Blinder discusses jobless rateThe U.S. unemployment rate...

BUSINESS DIGEST

May 18, 1994

Blinder discusses jobless rate

The U.S. unemployment rate could decline to about 6 percent from the current 6.4 percent without igniting inflation, Alan Blinder, President Clinton's nominee to the Federal Reserve Board, said yesterday.

That position puts him at odds with some analysts, who contend that a 6.4 percent rate is a "natural" rate and that any further reduction in the jobless rate would cause inflation to accelerate.

His comments came in written responses to questions from the Senate Banking Committee.

Nordstrom issuing Visa card

Nordstrom Inc. yesterday became the first major retailer to issue a Visa credit card that would compete with its own store card.

The department store, in the middle of aggressive national expansion plans, is the first to employ the concept called co-branding, which is designed to build customer loyalty and capitalize on a well-respected name by offering an incentive to use the card.

Customers who spend $1,000 a year with the Nordstrom Visa would get 1 percent off Nordstrom purchases for that year. Consumers could get a maximum 5 percent off store purchases after spending $5,000 on the card.

Merry-Go-Round hires executive

Merry-Go-Round Enterprises, which recently said it would divide its stores into four main operating units, has hired an executive from apparel concern Bugle Boy Industries to run two of them.

Lou Spagna, formerly president of Bugle Boy's retail division, was named president of the division that includes Merry-Go-Round's Dejaiz/Attivo stores and its Chess King/Garage stores, the company said yesterday. Mr. Spagna, described by the company as a 22-year retail apparel veteran, has also worked in management for Melville Corp. and May Department Stores Co. Merry-Go-Round has been operating under protection of Chapter 11 bankruptcy since January.

Possible Olympia & York deal

The investment fund run by Leon Black, one of America's most aggressive deal makers and richest men, moved a step closer this week to taking control of Olympia & York Cos. (U.S.A.), the largest holder of commercial real estate in New York City, executives of Olympia & York said yesterday.

In the last month, Mr. Black's group, Apollo Real Estate Investments, has bought pieces of Olympia & York's $5 billion debt held by a group of banks.

The group's purchases this week, according to an executive of Olympia & York, give it "a strategic position to make a serious play on the U.S. company" by taking control of the debt of five of Olympia's 11 core properties in New York City." Apollo already holds a 37 percent interest in two other buildings that are part of its core operations.

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