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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, April 24, 2010

BUSINESS BRIEFS
Treasury chief says financial bailout may be $400B cheaper


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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Nissan plans to manufacture about 50,000 Leaf hatchback electric cars during its first year of production.

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WASHINGTON Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is telling Congress the administration believes the final cost of the government's heavily criticized financial bailout effort could be as low as $87 billion.

Geithner made the new estimate in a letter yesterday to congressional leaders that was obtained by The Associated Press. A year ago, officials were estimating the bailout could cost as much as $500 billion.

The new estimates are part of the administration's lobbying campaign to get Congress to pass sweeping financial overhaul legislation.

HEALTH INSURER AGAIN STALLS HEFTY CALIF. RATE INCREASES

LOS ANGELES Thousands of Anthem Blue Cross policyholders who faced steep rate increases on May 1 will get at least a temporary reprieve, as California's largest for-profit health insurer extends a two-month postponement prompted by public outrage over the proposed increases.

But there was no word from the insurance company how long this new delay will be.

Anxious policyholders have been waiting to hear from the Los Angeles company about a jump in their premiums of as much as 39 percent. A spokeswoman for Anthem's parent, WellPoint Inc., said this week that the insurer's 800,000 California members who buy individual policies will see no difference in their bills at this point.

State law requires insurers to notify policyholders 30 days before altering rates, meaning Anthem could not impose higher premiums until the end of the May at the earliest.

20% OF NISSAN LEAF FLEET RESERVED FOR DEC. RELEASE

LOS ANGELES Nissan Motor Co. said yesterday that buyers have already reserved more than 20 percent of the first year's production of its Leaf electric vehicle.

About 6,600 U.S. consumers have paid the $99 reservation fee, and 3,700 in Japan have done the same. Nissan said it will make about 50,000 Leaf cars the first year. The automaker has said it wants to have about 40 percent of production reserved by December, when the car goes on sale.

Nissan began taking reservations for the Leaf on Tuesday.

The all-electric hatchback will cost $32,780. But government subsidies are available, including a federal tax credit of $7,500 for electric vehicles.