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Eric Wieffering

Deputy Managing Editor | Enterprise and Investigations | News
Phone: 612-673-1736

Eric Wieffering, deputy managing editor for enterprise and investigations, works with reporters and editors across the newsroom on short- and longer-term enterprise stories.

Wieffering's journalism career began in Massachusetts, where he covered city government on Cape Cod. His career as a business writer or editor in Minnesota spanned the stock market boom of the '80s, the technology bubble of the '90s, the housing bubble of the '00s, and the Great Recession. Wieffering directed the Star Tribune's metro news coverage for five years before moving into his current role. He and his wife, Ruth, live in St. Paul.
Recent content from Eric Wieffering
FILE - In this Nov. 2, 2009 file photo, a customer swipes a MasterCard debit card through a machine while checking-out at a shop in Seattle. Consumers

Wieffering: Time to get over debit card fees

The foot-stomping frenzy about debit card fees reminds me of a sandbox showdown between 2-year-olds.

For Thrivent and others, warnings were there

Dumb money.
Chingwell Mutombu of Golden Valley is a regular shopper at the Wedge in Minneapolis.

With billions in sales, some co-ops are big business

When Brent Heuth and a team of researchers at the University of Wisconsin decided to measure the economic impact of cooperative-owned businesses in the United States, they didn't figure it would be too hard.
In this Oct. 6, 2011 photo, Gan Golan of Los Angeles, dressed as the "Master of Degrees," holds a ball and chain representing his college loan debt du

Student loans are a great deal - for the government

Congress returns next week, and one of the first things on the agenda will be figuring out how to pay for the cost of keeping interest rates low on federally guaranteed student loans.

Wieffering: Start-up bill results in less-informed investors

The Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act is that rarest of Washington objects: a bill signed by President Obama, heartily endorsed by both Democrats and Republicans and championed by the likes of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
A United Parcel Service driver delivers packages from in Palo Alto, Calif., Thursday, June 30, 0211. Inc. said Wednesday that it

Wieffering: Tax-free sales give unfair edge to online sellers

Democrats and Republicans rarely agree on anything these days, especially when the conversation swings to taxes and the economy.
Best Buy headquarters in Richfield.

Wieffering: Best Buy needs an outsider as its next CEO

Brian Dunn is out as chief executive of Best Buy, but not for the reasons many thought would prove his ultimate undoing: Losing the loyalty of customers and the confidence of investors.
Simon Kallal, co-owner of 2nd Swing Golf with some of the store's inventory in the basement of the Hennepin Avenue store in Minneapolis.

Wieffering: With second chance, 2nd Swing finds the green

Simon Kallal's first golf venture, 2nd Swing, found water in 2006, when it was liquidated in bankruptcy.

Wieffering: Regional air carriers not immune to tough times

The future of the airline industry is beginning to look a lot like its recent past.
Wieffering: Tickets should be yours to use, or resell

Wieffering: Tickets should be yours to use, or resell

Beware monopolists claiming they have the best interests of consumers in mind.
Brian Dunn, Best Buy CEO

Wieffering: The Street is losing faith in Best Buy's CEO Dunn

An underperforming professional sports team knows it's time to hire a new coach when the current one "loses the locker room."

Wieffering: Health care overhaul aims to heal a creaky system

Americans may think that health care is a universal right, but for most people in the United States, it's a benefit that can be extended, altered or revoked on a moment's notice.

Wieffering: Rising gas prices not as evil as you might think

Americans believe deeply in the virtues of free markets. Except when they behave in ways we don't like.

Wieffering: Proceed with caution on 'reforms' of device OKs

The medical device industry is right. The approval process for new devices is badly broken.

School reform free-for-all has the cash flying

Education reform has all the hallmarks of a parent-led, grass-roots movement to fix failing public schools.

Making the case for lower corporate taxes

Corporate tax cut fever is in the air.

Wieffering: HEI in the pink but hardly tickled

HEI Inc. posted its first profit in three years Monday, and investors seem increasingly confident that CEO Mark Thomas is delivering on his turnaround plan for the Victoria-based technology firm. Since late December, HEI's share price has surged almost 30 percent.

Wieffering: For Lusso, luxury vision ends up in bankruptcy

The Lusso Collection, an Eden Prairie-based club that offered unlimited access to dozens of multimillion-dollar getaway homes around the world, promised members a "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous"-like experience.

Wieffering: Approval in St. Paul always seems to be conditional

St. Paul residents may wonder why their property taxes are going up in 2012 even as the amount of services and amenities the city can afford to provide goes down.

Property tax system needs reform, not quick 'fixes'

A decade ago, Minnesota legislators and business interests struck a grand bargain around property taxes.

Wieffering: Good pay, job security in two years instead of four

E.J. Daigle has a plea for America's moms and dads.

Jobs go wanting

Manufacturing companies are struggling to find enough people who can program and run the high-tech machines that cut metal and plastic components. But these precision manufacturing jobs are also among the highest-paying. Though the total number of jobs is expected to shrink in the next decade, demand for these skills is expected to remain strong.
3M chairman, president and CEO George Buckley prepared to address the crowd gathered for the 3M annual meeting in St. Paul's Rivercentre.

Wieffering: Buckley helped 3M rediscover its mojo

Chief executives don't usually get a victory lap, and some of them don't deserve one.

Wieffering: Fighting death's final indignity: The price tag

Death may not be proud, but it sure can be expensive.
Models pose by Mercedes Benz SLS AMG Roadster on display during the 2012 Taipei International Auto Show at the Taipei World Trade Center in Taipei, Ta

Basic instinct behind many consumer choices

It's the oldest trick in advertising's toolbox.

Wieffering: Clear choices are essential to surviving rapid change

One measure of a company is how it faces up to the kind of disruptive change that, left unchecked, could lead to its ruin.
The proposed Target Center renovation would include opening the building up to outside streets. This view is from N. 6th Street and 1st Avenue. N. Ren

Go long to measure the true cost of a stadium

Minneapolis city officials thought they were saving downtown in 1995 when they agreed to buy Target Center for $72 million.

Wieffering: Buffets Inc.: Revisiting a deal gone wrong

When Old Country Buffet tumbled into bankruptcy last week for the second time in four years, top executives of Buffets Inc. were quick to blame the restaurant chain's woes on weak spending by consumers.

Wieffering: Company prospers, and so do workers

Nobody, not even his 54 employees, would have blamed Jim Dow for selling Diversified Plastics, the Brooklyn Park manufacturing firm Dow founded 35 years ago, to the highest bidder.
At least one analyst said he doubts that a buyout of American Airlines by Delta Air Lines would fly past federal regulators.

Wieffering: Let's hope talk of American, Delta merger goes nowhere

Airlines raised ticket prices nine times in 2011, and they seem determined to maintain or exceed that pace in 2012. Earlier this week the nation's biggest carrier, Delta Air Lines, pushed through its second fare increase of the new year.

Wieffering: This business may look grim, but it plans to reap big profits

GWG Holdings makes money when its customers die, and as the prospectus for its $250 million debt sale makes clear, sooner is better than later.

Eric Wieffering: Devil is often in details of executive paychecks

Listen closely and you can already begin to hear it stirring: The collective sound of jaws hitting the floor as companies reveal the take-home pay of their top executives.

Wieffering: For some, recovery may never come

Most conversations about the beleaguered housing sector focus quickly on one topic, prices. As in, "Will they ever stop falling?"
Hundreds of job seekers waited in line to search for job opportunities at the Minneapolis Career Fair in Bloomington, Monday, September 12, 2011

Look anew at Minnesota's job creation challenge

Minnesota begins 2012 in much the same shape it began 2011: Slowly repairing the ravages of the Great Recession, brandishing an unemployment rate that suggests the state is doing better than the nation as a whole.
The Cabela's super store in Owatonna, during the installation an 8-ton bronze sculpture of two whitetail bucks by artist Dick Idol.

Vibrant economies aren't found only in cities

Count Mankato, Owatonna and Willmar among the state's economic hot spots, according to ia just-released analysis of Minnesota's outstate economy.
A Supervalu truck in the Supervalu distribution center in Hopkins.

Supervalu has a tough time living up to its name

Every investor's portfolio has one: an established, even profitable company stuck in a state of permanent turnaround.
A Ford assembly line worker reached for a pneumatic wrench to install a part on the hood of a pickup truck.

Wieffering: Fate of Ford plant was settled long time ago

The closing of Ford's Twin Cities Assembly Plant in St. Paul marks the end of an era in Minnesota's economic history.
A jet takes off from an MSP runway as seen from Fort Snelling National Cemetery.

Wieffering: At MSP, some cracks in the fortress hub wall

Clearly, Dan Boivin does not understand the role of a lap dog.
Scott Augustine, left, CEO of Augustine Biomedical+Design, was testing a new pillowcase when he observed how forced-air warming changed airflow in an

This medical device rivalry is getting a bit heated

Physician/inventor Scott Augustine isn't given to nuance. Once, outside a courtroom, he denounced a federal investigation of Medicare fraud, saying, "The government didn't have a…
Enron’s headquarters in Houston. Enron went under 10 years ago Friday.

Wieffering: Enron's fall is a lesson we still can't seem to learn

Enron's bankruptcy 10 years ago Friday taught investors to trust no one. Not senior executives, not the analysts, not the accountants, and definitely not the regulators or Wall Street bankers.
Larry Barenbaum

Wieffering: Retailer tries to reconnect with its best customer

Mary, Larry wants you back.
A section of the Conservatory buckles after construction crews imploded the building .

Downtown Minneapolis dropped off shoppers' list

Not much has changed about the Holidazzle parade since it first snaked its way down the Nicollet Mall in 1992.

Wieffering: Now isn't the time to kill tax cut, benefits for jobless

Here's a topic to toss around the dinner table this Thanksgiving, even though it wades into the dangerous territory of economics and public policy.
In this Oct. 4, 2011 photo, Blake Andrews with Verizon, left, visits with prospective employees during a job fair, in San Antonio. The United States a

Four years after roof fell in, a few good signs

If Upper Deck made trading cards for countries, here's what the vital statistics for the U.S. economy would have looked like four years ago this month, on the eve of what we now call the Great Recession.
“Doors open at 12 a.m. Friday .” There’s a lot of that going around these days.

Wieffering: Early store openings reflect new retail reality

Black Friday is no longer the busiest day of the holiday shopping season, but its event-like trappings -- 3 a.m. openings, time-limited sales available only in stores -- are vitally important in bringing people to the store and creating momentum for the rest of the season.

Average debt of graduates

AVERAGE DEBT OF GRADUATES Four-year, public U. of Minn. Duluth $30,998 MSU, Moorhead $29,410 Winona State $29,123 Four-year, private MCAD $44,385 Crown College $38,042…
FILE - In this Oct. 6, 2011 file photo, Gan Golan, of Los Angeles, dressed as the "Master of Degree," holds a ball and chain representing his college

Paying for college, mortgaging your future

During the housing boom, qualifying for a loan was as easy as drawing a breath.
Anti-austerity protesters scuffle with riot police during a student parade in Athens, on Friday, Oct. 28, 2011. The student march, in commemoration of

Those troubles across the pond floating our way

From afar, the economic crisis in Europe seems like a puzzling and sometimes amusing sideshow.
Job seekers attend the Minneapolis Career Fair held Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2011, in Bloomington, Minn. Fewer people applied for unemployment benefits last

Don't blame the unemployed for the jobs crisis

A new culprit has emerged as a major source of the nation's long-term unemployment crisis: the jobless themselves.

Wieffering: Returns aren't in on Best Buy's VC venture

Shareholders of Polaris and Best Buy reacted predictably last week to news that the companies had each made a bet on the future of electric motorcycles.

How many dreams fall prey to health care costs?

Alex Danovitch's business has nine employees, Andy Johnson's has 90. One firm is four years old, the other 11. One is in south Minneapolis, the other in St. Cloud.

Pricey benefits

Most Americans get their health insurance through an employer, and the average annual premium for family coverage has more than doubled in the past decade.

Less than meets the eye in Dayton's business loans

Gov. Mark Dayton's decision to deposit another $100 million in Minnesota's community banks is a sincere but ultimately symbolic gesture that will do little to spur new small business lending in the state.

Wieffering: The best plan to boost jobs: Invest in workers

It seemed fitting that the co-author of a depressing bestseller about America's economic decline would deliver the keynote speech at Gov. Mark Dayton's daylong conference about Minnesota's broken down jobs engine.

Benefits of trade outweigh cost - eventually

Trade makes nations wealthier.

Wieffering: Medical parts maker recasts itself as device developer

The pall over Minnesota's medical device industry seems notably absent in the Chaska offices of Lake Region Medical.

Generation Me not the only loser in this recession

The effort to crown the Great Recession's biggest losers seems to have settled, momentarily, on the least likely of candidates: young people with college degrees.
An operator of a fruit and vegetable stand near Denver holds a California-grown cantaloupe for sale at her business on Friday, Sept. 16, 2011. Federal

Every trip from farm to table brings risk

In just the past two months, food companies and government safety agencies have issued recalls for hamburger, lettuce, tomatoes, avocados, cheese, smoked salmon, spinach dip, ground turkey and cantaloupes.

Wieffering: Teamsters candidate brings new perspective

Sandy Pope says things you might not expect to hear from a union leader.
Light-rail construction along University Avenue makes getting to the Dubliner Pub difficult.

University Avenue shops wait it out

2014 may prove an agonizingly long time to wait for some of the 800-plus businesses along the 11-mile Central Corridor line.

Wieffering: In health insurance, choice doesn't come free

Some day in the not-too-distant future the company-sponsored health plan will be as rare as the company-funded pension.

Fixing economy requires more work on housing

Only 2 percent of President Obama's speech to Congress on Sept. 8 dealt with the plight of underwater homeowners, but those 72 words could do as much or more for the flagging U.S. economy as the entire $447 billion jobs bill.

Toro took the bull by the horns to succeed

Investors, professional and amateur alike, are always trying to spot the next big thing. Maybe it's that Silicon Valley social media start-up, or a Boston biotech company that's in early clinical trials or a newly resuscitated shell company with some promising claims in the oil fields of North Dakota.

Calculating 9/11's toll on U.S. economy

Economically, the U.S. feels much less secure than it did in the months and years before the attacks.

Wieffering: Fed alone can't put people to work, restore confidence

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke offered no new clues Thursday about what steps the central bank might take to boost the U.S. economy, but he did use the occasion to send Washington a message:

Fledgling economic group bags timely speaker

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke comes to Minnesota on Thursday with the U.S. economy teetering on the brink of another recession and investors and policymakers around the world hanging on his every word.

Jobless over a year: Real people and real pain

Most of us know Gaylene Adams only as a number.

When the better choice is devil you don't know

One of the hardest things for a child to learn is that the easiest choice is not always the best one.

North Dakota enjoys the spoils of full employment

You'd never get a Minnesotan to acknowledge it, but there's a lot of North Dakota envy going around these days.

At times, even General Mills can't tame the online beast

U.S. companies will spend more than $1 billion on social media marketing this year. They will employ all manner of digital technology to try to deepen their relationships with customers, including bombarding us with tweets and imploring us at every turn to like them.

Social Security's problems are solvable

Few government programs invite more magical flights of fancy than Social Security.

Feds making a return visit to MTS Systems

Lessons apparently don't stay learned at MTS Systems.

Small firms hit twice when clients go bankrupt

When one of his biggest customers went bankrupt, Corby Pelto allowed himself to entertain the notion that the court-appointed trustee overseeing the case might help his Minneapolis-based insurance services firm recover some of the $18,000 Pelto was still owed.
Tim Penny

Growth need not be a casualty of austerity

The stock market is not the economy, and it's not even the most reliable indicator of what will happen in the economy. Back in October 1987, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 22 percent of its value in a single day. It would be another two years before stocks recovered, but the U.S. economy? It grew 4.1 percent in 1988. The recession that everyone feared was imminent didn't arrive until 1990.

Protections for sugar company, but not its workers

American Crystal Sugar Co. paid out nearly half a billion dollars last year to the 2,800 sugar beet farmers who own the co-op. This year, it's likely to be $750 million or more.