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BUSINESSFINANCIAL Berkshire Bank Kicks Off ‘Season of Giving’ PITTSFIELD – Berkshire Bank, America’s Most Exciting Bank® is excited to announce its second annual “Season of Giving” holiday campaign. Berkshire Bank employees will complete a variety of community service related projects throughout cities and towns that Berkshire Bank serves. Berkshire Bank employees are also inviting the public to join with them to support local children and families in need this holiday season. More than 200 Berkshire Bank employees are expected to participate in the holiday “Season of Giving” effort with all of the service

projects benefiting non-profit organizations and families across Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut and Vermont. The projects were organized by local bank employee committees, who select volunteer activities the bank participates in. In addition to these local projects, Berkshire Bank has teamed up with the American Red Cross to participate in their Mail for Hero’s program in which bank employees send holiday cards to servicemen and women currently serving overseas. Pioneer Valley “Season of Giving” projects include:

Department of Children & Families and local Boy’s and Girl’s Clubs – All Berkshire Bank branches in the Pioneer Valley, MA have teamed up with the Department of Children & Families and local Boy’s and Girl’s Clubs to collect gifts for local families in need. Donations are being accepted at any Berkshire Bank location in the Pioneer Valley, MA. The public is invited to stop by their local office to see which items are needed from the “Giving Tree.” Bank employees will also volunteer their time with a variety of local non-profit organizations during the holiday season.

Lori Gazzillo, Director of Berkshire Bank Foundation stated, “We wanted to do something special to give back to our communities this holiday season. Part of what makes us America’s Most Exciting Bank® is our company’s commitment to our community including the work of our employees through our Employee Volunteer Program. We hope that our month-long ‘Season of Giving’ initiative will inspire others to give of their time, treasure, and talents to make our communities a better place to live and work.” In 2012, Berkshire Bank employees completed 95 volunteer projects

in which over 50% of the bank’s employees participated donating over 37,000 hours of service to help their local communities. The Volunteer Program is another way for the bank to give back to communities it does business in, in addition to the nearly $2 million it gives away annually through its charitable foundations and corporate support. Berkshire Bank was named by the Boston Business Journal as one of Massachusetts Most Charitable Companies and honored with the New England Financial Marketing Association’s Community Champion Award.

World stocks boosted as U.S. unemployment falls

A worker on the track gestures to the engineer of a Metro-North Railroad commuter train pulling into the Spuyten-Duyvil station in the Bronx borough of New York, on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2014. The station reopened Wednesday, three days after a nearby derailment killed four people. (AP Photo/Jim Fitzgerald)

Senators: Put cameras on train tracks, engineers VERENA DOBNIK Associated Press NEW YORK (AP) — A week after four people died in a New York commuter train derailment, two federal lawmakers proposed Sunday that trains nationwide be outfitted with cameras pointed at engineers and at the tracks. “I know you’re going to hear from Metro-North that there are costs, but the costs of these audio and visual recorders is minuscule, in fact negligible, compared to the hundreds of millions of dollars that this tragic incident will cost Metro-North in the end,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut who joined New York Sen. Charles Schumer for a news conference at Manhattan’s Grand Central Terminal. Last Sunday, a Metro-North Railroad train approached a curve on the tracks just north of Manhattan going 82 mph — nearly three times 30 mph speed limit. Rail cars careened off the tracks, with the front car ending up inches from the water where the Hudson River meets the Harlem River. A lawyer and union leader for the derailed train’s engineer, William Rockefeller, have said the train’s hypnotic motion may have caused him to experience a “nod” or a “daze” at the controls. The Democratic lawmakers are urging

“Shame on the operators of this railroad for failing to move forward with a recommendation that is so cost effective. Keep people alive.” — SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL

the Federal Railroad Administration to demand the implementation of a measure they say might prevent the kind of deadly Metro-North derailment that also left dozens of people injured. The National Transportation Safety Board first recommended installation of the audio and video recording cameras in locomotives and operating railway cabs five years ago. The railroad administration issued a statement saying that safety was its “highest priority” and 2012 was the safest year in railroading history.

“We support the use of cameras in cabs to further improve safety,” the agency said, adding that it continues to work with the NTSB on the investigation into the New York accident. The NTSB said it has a “long history of advocating for improvements stemming from fatal accidents.” “In an era where the average citizen has a device in their pocket capable of recording audio and video, installing cameras in locomotives for accident investigation and prevention purposes simply moves the railroad industry into the 21st century,” NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman said in a statement. Schumer said fatigue was suspected in two other collisions — one in Iowa, in 2011 and another in Newton, Mass., in 2008 — and might have been proven if cameras were present. He said such images might have caught behavior patterns that could have been prevented in the future. “Get on board and implement these recommendations now,” Schumer said, directing his comments to the Federal Railroad Administration, which has the power to demand the changes. The railroad administration has yet to take any regulatory action See Cameras, Page 7

Survey: Fed economic stimulus will end in 2014 NEW YORK (AP) — The vast majority of business economists believe the Federal Reserve will begin to pull back on its massive economic stimulus program in the first three months of 2014, according to a November survey done by the National Association of Business Economists. The survey also showed a majority of economists believe the United States’ economic recovery will accelerate next year. NABE surveyed 51 economists between Nov. 8 and Nov. 19 and found that 62 percent of respondents believe the Fed will pull back on its bond-buying program in the first quarter of 2014. Another 30 percent believe the Fed will begin to reduce its bond buying in the second quarter of 2014. Combined, nine out of 10 economists believe the Fed’s stimulus program will wind down next year, after being place in its current form since December 2012. The Federal Reserve has been buying $85 billion in bonds each

month in an effort to keep interest rates low and stimulate the economy. The central bank was widely expected to taper its bond purchases in September, but decided to wait and see more evidence whether the nation’s economic recovery is sustainable. In its survey, NABE said its forecasters expect the U.S. economy will grow faster next year than in 2013. The organization forecasts that the country’s economy will grow at a 2.8 percent annual rate in 2014 versus the 2.1 percent annual rate it is expected to grow this year. The partial shutdown of the federal government in early October likely had a modest impact on economic growth, NABE said. Of the forecasters polled by NABE, 73 percent said that the October shutdown likely reduced U.S. economic growth in the fourth quarter by 0.5 percent or less. Fewer than 25 percent of economists believed the shutdown had no impact on the U.S. economy or even helped the U.S. economy.

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Global stock markets were mostly higher Monday as signs of U.S. economic recovery offset concerns that the Federal Reserve may reduce its monetary stimulus this month. In Europe, Britain’s FTSE 100 was flat at 6,550.08 and Germany’s DAX gained 0.5 percent to 9,316.73. The CAC-40 in France, however, dipped 0.1 percent to 4,124.47. Futures pointed to gains on Wall Street, with Dow and S&P 500 futures both up 0.1 percent. The U.S. on Friday reported a fourth straight month of job gains, with 203,000 new jobs created in November. The unemployment rate fell to 7.0 percent from 7.3 percent. The strengthening job market focused investors on the improving economy instead of concerns about a possible reduction in the Fed’s stimulus at its Dec. 17-18 policy meeting. A run of strong economic data last week had already cemented belief among investors that the Fed would back a so-called tapering of its $85 billion in monthly bond purchases. Earlier this year, fears of the stimulus withdrawal had caused jitters in the markets as the monetary injection has helped to shore up stocks for several years. “The jobs data followed on from several other firm U.S. data releases over the week, highlighting strengthening signs of recovery. Equities reacted well, rising as fears over tapering were outweighed by concrete signs of recovery,” Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong said in a market commentary. Improvement in the U.S. economy, which is the world’s largest, could be a boon for export-reliant Asian nations. Japan’s Nikkei 225 surged 2.3 percent to 15,650.21 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 0.3 percent at 23,811.17. Benchmarks in mainland China, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Indonesia also rose. India’s Sensex jumped 1.7 percent to a record high after sweeping victories for India’s probusiness opposition party in state elections suggested it will win national polls in May. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 bucked the trend and dropped 0.8 percent to 5,144.40. Some analysts said the jury is still out on the timing of stimulus reduction. Singapore-based Mizuho Bank Ltd. said markets may be wary that upcoming U.S. budget negotiations could stumble, which will be bad for confidence and that could encourage the Fed to leave the asset purchases in place. DBS Vickers in Hong Kong said U.S. inflation is still low, easing to 1.1 percent in November, and that the jobs data may not be strong enough to convince the Fed that the economy is on a selfsustaining recovery path. “Tapering will come but April still looks a good time frame to us, with risks to the far side rather than the near side,” it said. Benchmark crude for January delivery was up 26 cents at $97.91 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 27 cents to close at $97.65 on Friday. In currencies, the euro rose to $1.3726 from $1.3704 late Friday. The dollar fell to 103.09 yen from 103.04 yen.

New American Airlines to emerge as deal closes NEW YORK (AP) — American Airlines emerges from bankruptcy protection and US Airways culminates its long pursuit of a merger partner when the two complete their deal Monday and create the world’s biggest airline. The merger survived a challenge from the government and criticism from consumer groups, who fear it will lead to higher prices. It’s the latest in a series of mergers that will leave four airlines controlling more than 80 percent of the U.S. air-travel market See American Airlines, Page 7

Monday, December 9, 2013  
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