Money in a Minute: Headlines for March 24, 2011

JAPAN: Toyota tells U.S. plants ‘prepare to shut down’

A shortage of car pars made in Japan might mean Toyota has to shut down some plants over here. “Word has gone out to all 13 of Toyota’s factories in the United States, Canada and Mexico,” CNN Money reports. “This does not mean that the plants will stop working…but that they should be ready in case the need arises.”

TECH: NY judge calls off plans for Google library

Google’s ambitious plan to put the world’s books online in a free massive digital library have run afoul of a New York judge. “A judge on Tuesday rejected a deal between Internet search leader Google and the book industry that would have put millions of volumes online,” the AP reports on Yahoo!, “citing anti-trust concerns and the need for involvement from Congress while acknowledging the potential benefit of putting literature in front of the masses.”

FOOD: High vegetable prices should drop soon, grocers say

The recent run-up in vegetable prices – nearly 50 percent in some grocery stores – should see a drop in the next few weeks. “Vegetable prices shot up last month after cold weather in the southern U.S. and Mexico destroyed much of the winter vegetable supply,” USA Today reports. “Costs should be coming down soon, though, as crops farmers planted after the winter freezes start to reach stores.”

DRUGS: U.S. branded drug prices soar as generic pressure rises

Brand-name drugs of all kinds are seeing massive price hikes. “Prices for the 15 best-selling drugs rose by much higher rates in 2010 than they did in each of the last five years,” MSNBC reports. “Two thirds of the drugs saw double-digit price hikes, well above inflation of 1.6 percent in 2010.”

BOOKS: Barnes & Noble said to be likely to end search for buyer without a sale

Will Barnes & Noble follow Borders into bankruptcy? The nation’s largest bookstore chain has so far failed to find a buyer despite a months-long search. “Interest from at least seven potential buyers waned,” Bloomberg reports. “A few private-equity funds determined Barnes & Noble is relatively unproven in digital sales and would have to compete in that area with companies such as Apple, Amazon.com, and Google.”

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