By JEFF HARRINGTON
Times Staff Writer
Step away from that smartphone. Siri can't help you with this one.It's time for the Times' fifth annual Biz Quiz, an exercise in business and political mental gymnastics that was born during the peak of the financial crisis.
Back in autumn 2008, pundits were warning about an impending fiscal cliff, the country was fixated on a presidential election that could change the world as we knew it, and the Tampa Bay Rays were making a surprising September push into the postseason.
And now? Well, 'bout the same. Except it's not a shock the resurgent Rays are still in the playoff hunt.
So, let the game begin. And may the odds be ever in your favor.
1. What's the state's new official tourism slogan?
a. "It's all about the optics." b. "Hurricane-free seven years and counting!!" c . "Florida: Come for the sunshine; stay because you ran out of gas money." d. "Vacant wintertime rentals available. Cheap!" e. "Must be the sunshine."
2. Match the quote with the speaker: Vice President Joe Biden; Pinellas County Commission candidate Janet Long; political strategist James Carville; Florida pizzeria owner Scott Van Duzer; travel researcher Chad Church.
a. "He was so warm and so genuine, I just had to hug him." b. "It's the Middle Class, Stupid!" c. "This is no malarkey. You come to the White House. I'll buy you a beer." d. "The firefighters have really taken advantage of 9/11 and what happened then and capitalized on it and the emotion." e. "Two hundred percent growth. That's just off the charts!"
3. Progress Energy Florida, which is about to take on the name of new parent Duke Energy, has spent $1.1 billion so far on ____.
a. Buying Twitter followers. b. A proposed nuclear plant in Levy County that may never get built. c. One Direction tickets. d. Discount fashion apparel at Tampa's newest H&M store.
4. Which local business leader decided to step down?
a. Conrad Szymanski, president of Beall's Outlet and Burke's Outlet stores. b. Richard Wainio, CEO of the Port of Tampa. c. Chuck Sykes, CEO of Sykes Enterprises. d. a and b. e. a and c.
5. Why were members of the Florida delegation to the Republican National Convention so peeved?
a. Their bus got lost on the way to the Tampa Bay Times Forum. b. They thought Charlie Crist was supposed to speak. c. They had to stand because their empty chairs were reserved for invisible guests. d. They learned they have to host the convention again four years from now.
6. True or False: Tampa Bay has created more jobs over the past year than any other Florida metro area.
7. State-run Citizens Property Insurance recently triggered negative publicity by:
a. Cutting many customer discounts after a sweeping reinspection of policyholders' homes statewide. b. Letting executives stay in posh hotels and spend upward of $50 apiece on meals, dining on such fare as rack of venison, sea bass and Dungeness crab. c. Pushing to hike sinkhole rates 50 percent in Hernando, Hillsborough and Pasco counties. d. Not punishing some top executives who broke company rules by using corporate credit cards to pay for alcoholic beverages and personal expenses. e. All of the above.
8. What was blogger Lou Mongello referring to when he said: "Nobody saw this coming. The nostalgists are losing their minds."
a. Quarter beer night at the Trop. b. Dick Greco's plan to come out of political retirement again to challenge Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. c. Disney's Magic Kingdom offering alcohol within the park for the first time in its 41-year history. d. The city of Clearwater's plan to build a duplicate of St. Petersburg's famous Pier.
9. What product launch, capitalizing on some national exposure, debuted at the Westfield Brandon mall?
a. The 100.7 MiX Match Game. b. The MiX Bikini. c. The MiX Thong. d. The iPhone 5.
10. Pick the biggest and smallest number:
a. Profit the U.S. government expects after its bailout of beleaguered AIG. b. At $200 apiece, revenue from kickoff weekend sales of the iPhone 5. c. Quarterly revenues of Tampa Bay's newest public company, Outback Steakhouse owner Bloomin' Brands. d. Assets of C1 Bank, which is relocating its headquarters from Manatee County to downtown St. Petersburg this fall. e. How much the Federal Reserve will spend to buy mortgage-backed securities every month under its latest "quantitative easing" program.
11. Based on the latest U.S. Census projections, approximately what percent of children under 18 are living in poverty? ($22,811 is the poverty threshold for a family of four with two children.)
a. 7 percent. b. 12 percent. c. 17 percent. d. 22 percent.
12. Which did not just reach an all-time high?
a. Credit union membership in Florida. b. Coupon redemption. c. Use of food stamps in the Tampa Bay area. d. Ridership of Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART). e. All of them hit new records.
13. Tampa Bay was singled out in a national report as _________.
a. The Most Dangerous Metro for Pedestrians and Bikers. b. The Most Financially Distressed Metro. c. The Emptiest City (based on percentage of vacant homes and rental units). d. All of the above. e. None of the above.
Within a trillion dollars or so, what's the estimated total loss of American wealth since Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy on Sept. 15, 2008?
1. e. Replaces the slogan: "Your Florida Side is Calling."
2. Give yourself a point for each correct match. Biden: c. (Speaking to a deputy fire chief in Pennsylvania); Long: d. (In comments to the Tampa Bay Times' editorial board); Carville: b. (Others probably said it as well, but it's the title of a book Carville co-authored with Stan Greenberg); Van Duzer: a. (Explaining why he gave a huge bear hug to President Obama, lifting him a few feet off the ground); Church: e. (Talking about revenue-per-room growth that Tampa Bay hoteliers received during the Republican National Convention).
6. False. Orlando just wrestled back that crown; Tampa Bay is second.
7. e. Citizens also got heat for proposing a 12 percent average increase in its personal lines accounts and an 11 percent increase in coastal accounts. A Republican legislator has called for an audit into the insurer's controversial plan to loan $350 million out of its reserves to private insurers. Plus, plans to remove a 10 percent cap on rate hikes for new customers, limit water-loss damages to $15,000, discontinue builders risk insurance and end coverage for some mobile homes have all sparked public outcries as well — leading Citizens to abandon some of the ideas … but we ran out of room.
9. b. New York City businessman Frank Scozzafava appeared on ABC's Shark Tank in May to ask investors for $50,000 to help fund his new bathing suit business, MiX Bikini. He used the money to open a kiosk at the Westfield Brandon mall, the first in the country. The product is interchangeable bathing suits in which you pick the patterns, colors and style.
10. Worth Two Points if both answers correct: Biggest: e. (The Fed is kicking in another $40 billion a month) Smallest: c. Bloomin' Brands ($981 million in quarterly revenues). The rest of the lineup: about $12 billion in profits from AIG; projected iPhone 5 revenues of $1 billion-plus (about 5 million units); C1 Bank assets of $2.2 billion.
11. d. Other notable stats: 15 percent of the entire U.S. population is in poverty, with 44 percent of them classified as "deep poverty" below half the poverty line.
12. b. After five years of growth, coupon redemption fell 11 percent in the first half of 2012.
13. e. Thankfully. But, sigh, we did come in second to Orlando for pedestrian-unfriendliness; second to Orlando in a ranking of financial distress; and ninth among "emptiest" cities.
Bonus Answer (Worth two points): Better Markets, a pro-financial reform Wall Street watchdog, "conservatively" estimates the post-Lehman loss of American wealth since 2008 at $12.8 trillion. So if you guessed anywhere between $12 trillion and $14 trillion, give yourself a couple of points … and a couple of aspirin.
How to calculate your score
0 to 4: Really? Didn't your mother tell you not to text, drive and take a quiz at the same time?
5 to 9: Not bad. Almost as uplifting as a presidential bear hug.
10 to 15: You've got what it takes to be successful. Ever thought about getting into the newly revived market around here for flipping houses?
16 to 20: Expect a call from the Obama and Romney campaigns. They both need someone sharp to prep them for the debates.
Jeff Harrington can be reached at (727) 893-8242 or email@example.com.