Money in a Minute: Headlines for Feb. 16, 2011

DEBT: Individual bankruptcies rose 9 percent in 2010

It’s no surprise, but it’s still depressing: “U.S. bankruptcies climbed 8 percent in 2010 over 2009, rising for the fifth straight year,” MSNBC reports. But if there’s any good news, “Business bankruptcies declined 7.5 percent.” They had tripled between 2006 and 2009.

INSURANCE: Insurer medical costs falling – 1st time in 10 years

Health insurance companies got richer in 2010, with their medical costs dropping 1.6 percent – and this is good news for us, eventually. “If it continues in 2011, it should help boost health insurer profits while also pressuring them to curb premium increases and give consumers some much-needed relief,” CNN reports.

STOCK MARKET: Deutsche Boerse, N.Y. Stock Exchange seal merger deal

Two of the world’s largest stock exchanges – Germany’s Deutsche Boerse and NYSE Euronext – will merge into a global powerhouse. The deal is still so fresh, they haven’t even chosen a new name yet. “The two companies unveiled the first details of a merger plan that would create the world’s largest stock exchange,” MSNBC reports.

AIRLINES: Delta, American boost some air fares by up to $120

Airfares are going up for the second time this month, but not for tourists. “Major U.S. airlines are raising the price of some tickets favored by business travelers again,” the Associated Press reports, “this time by up to $120 per round trip.”

HEALTH: As sales soar, experts warn about energy drinks

Energy drinks cost a lot more than soda, and they may be even worse for your health. “The beverages contain a hodgepodge of caffeine, sugar and dietary supplements such as vitamins and herbal extracts, whose effects aren’t well understood,” Reuters reports. Side effects can include “seizures, delusions, heart problems and kidney or liver damage.”

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