Asia has more millionaires than Europe, report finds

Booming Asia had more millionaires than Europe for the first time last year and is fast closing in on North America for the top spot, a report released Thursday said.

The Asia-Pacific region was home to 3.3 million people in 2010 worth $1 million or more, excluding their homes, an increase of roughly 10 percent from the year before, according to the 15th annual World Wealth Report by Merrill Lynch’s wealth management division and consultancy Capgemini.

The report’s findings illustrate how Asia’s economies are growing much more quickly than developed countries and, in the process, minting scores of new millionaires and billionaires. Asia’s growth has been powered by China and India, whose economies grew 9-10 percent last year while European and North American growth was in the low single digits.

Discover’s profit triples as more people use cards

Discover Financial Services says its second-quarter profit more than tripled as customers used their cards more and got better about making payments on time.

The Riverwoods, Ill., credit card company says net income leaped to $593 million, or $1.09 per share. That is well above Wall Street’s expectation for profit of 75 cents per share.

More use of Discover cards pushed sales volume up 9 percent and boosted the number of transactions the company’s networks processed.

Customers also got much better paying their bills, so late payments and write offs of uncollected balances both dropped sharply from last year. That let Discover release $401 million from the reserves it keeps to cover unpaid bills.

Critics say slogans on Nike T-shirts endorse drug use

Nike Inc. is being blasted for replacing its signature “Just Do It” slogan on some T-shirts with the phrases “Dope,” “Get High” and “Ride Pipe.”

The shoe and athletic apparel company, based in Beaverton, Ore., said the terms are part of the lingo used by the skaters, snowboarders and participants in other extreme sports that it’s trying to target with the shirts.

But critics say the slogans endorse drug use. Boston’s mayor has asked Nike to remove a display of the shirts. And an Oregon antidrug group condemned them in a letter sent to 1,500 people — including some at The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy — urging them to let Nike know they disapprove of the slogans.

Greece presses banks, low earners in debt crisis

Measures proposed by Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos to complete a $111 billion austerity package required to win a bailout were endorsed by officials from the European Union and International Monetary Fund, said a person familiar with the matter Thursday.

A “solidarity levy” of between 1 percent and 5 percent would apply to all Greek wage earners, with members of parliament paying the top rate, Venizelos said. Self-employed Greeks will have to pay a separate charge estimated at around $425 a year on average, he said.

The levy is included in measures worth $7.8 billion that had still be sketched out as part of the program. Other changes include reducing the threshold for paying income tax to $11,330 from $17,000, with people under the age of 30 exempt from the lower threshold. A small increase in heating-oil taxes will also be brought in, Venizelos said.

“The precondition for the vote of the medium-term plan is for this to be finalized and this was the matter for today,” Venizelos said.

Venizelos was in meetings over the measures Thursday with representatives of the EU, IMF and European Central Bank, before the bill is brought to parliament for a vote next week, a condition for receiving a fifth loan under an EU-led bailout and for future financing.