NPR's business news starts with a new, multibillion-dollar chemical plant.
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GREENE: Exxon Mobil plans to build a huge chemical facility in Baytown, Texas. It reverses a company statement last year that said it has no plans for new chemical factories in the United States. According to Reuters, decades-low natural gas prices made the move too enticing to pass over. Natural gas is a key fuel in chemical production. By using its own natural gas, Exxon Mobil can run a chemical plant relatively cheaply.
OK, let's turn now to personal wealth. Today's last word in business is disappearing millions.
The number of millionaire households in this country declined in 2011. That's according to this year's Global Wealth Study from the Boston Consulting Group. It found the number of American households with a million dollars of investable assets shrunk by 2.5 percent.
The U.S. still leads the world in millionaires, but developing countries are gaining ground. Other countries added nearly 200,000 millionaire households in 2011.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki recently held one of his traveling Cabinet meetings in the disputed city of Kirkuk in an effort to show Iraqi Arabs on the edge of the Kurdish-controlled north that he's working on their behalf, too.
But the fact that he felt obliged to bring in large numbers of heavily armed troops for the event illustrated the tension plaguing Iraqi politics.
A decade ago, investors thought Greece would flourish on the euro. Money poured in, and banks started lending it out. Thefilos Papacostakis, a bank teller at Alpha Bank in Thessaloniki, got to hand out a lot of that money.
Last month, Thefilos says, his bosses called him in for a meeting. They told him things were about to get worse. When countries are in this kind of trouble, the bosses said, people panic and pull their money out of banks.