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Bratislava Is Not Detroit, Just So You Know

As they continue their pleas for a federal bailout (hopefully while forgoing end-of-the-year bonuses and use of corporate jets), the figureheads of major U.S. automobile companies took a little left jab to the jaw from, of all places, Slovakia! "We're in a good position to grow," says Maria Novakova, secretary-general of Slovakia's Automotive Industry Association. "Frankly, we don't want to be compared to D ...

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Tonic for the China syndrome

The dispatches from the front lines of the global economic catastrophe have taken on a markedly schizoid quality during the past few days. In Washington, U.S. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson executed yet another of his patented two-and-a-half backwards somersault, triple-salchow maneuvers. We haven't received any scoring for Hank's performance yet, presumably because the judges are waiting to see if he brea ...

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Recipe for success in tough times

The deepening economic malaise makes it imperative that businesses seize every potential revenue-generating opportunity that presents itself in coming months. The companies that succeed will be the ones that stay on top of their game, pay attention to fundamentals, and maximize the use of their resources. One such fundamental is the face-to-face meeting. We are pleased to report that early in 2009 commercia ...

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Magician makes $250 billion disappear

Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson emerged from his bunker in the epicenter of the financial crisis today to give us an update on his recent efforts to keep the U.S. economy afloat. In an upbeat Op-Ed piece in The New York Times, Paulson reported that he has successfully ''deployed a $250 billion capital injection'' and stabilized the financial system. The $250 billion that Paulson ''deployed'' came from the e ...

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The New Silk Road

It was announced today that the central Asian country of Kazakhstan will receive $700 million from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to construct a 2,715-kilometer transport corridor being dubbed the "new Silk Road." This massive, $6.7 billion road-building endeavor, if successful, will be a boon to the fledgling nation's growing infrastructure. The transport corridor will run from Khorogos, a city on Kazakh ...

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Red, white and blue states

Abraham Lincoln was the first president to refer to America as ''the United States'' instead of ''these United States.'' When he dedicated a cemetery in 1863 at the site of the bloodiest battle of the Civil War, Lincoln posed an existential question to the American people. Standing on the broken fields of Gettysburg, PA, where more than 50,000 of his fellow citizens had perished, Lincoln wondered aloud whet ...

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Pity the fool

When Alan Greenspan presided over the Federal Reserve for 18 years, he periodically appeared before Congress to mutter some ethereal bromides about the state of the U.S. economy. Greenspan's pronouncements were greeted as Yoda-like pearls of wisdom. Every mumbled word from this financial deity was reverentially parsed ad nauseum by a herd of financial analysts; every time he raised his eyebrows and creased ...

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Live from Germany, It’s Monday Night!

This afternoon, I had the privilege of interviewing Volker Hoff, the minister of federal and European affairs for the German state of Hessen. We met in a deluxe, circular conference room adorned with a glittering chandelier and a balcony overlooking the grandeur of Hessen's capital, Wiesbaden. Hoff and I were joined by Bernd Kistner, head of foreign trade for the Hessian Ministry for Economic Affairs, as we ...

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Crimson tide swamps Birmingham

The fiscal tsunami triggered by the collapse of Wall Street's investment banking giants is poised to drown an entire county in Alabama. According to a report in Fortune magazine, Jefferson County, AL, which includes the city of Birmingham, is on the verge of filing for Chapter 9 protection in what would be the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. Fortune says that Jefferson County has fallen ''hope ...

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You’ve got a new partner, Bjorn

In the opening scene of one of our all-time favorite TV series, mob boss Tony Soprano is chasing a guy through a Jersey parking lot with a baseball bat. The guy owes Tony some vigorish.Vigorish is local vernacular for the weekly interest payments that loan sharks charge to their borrower community. These payments don't actually reduce the amount owed, they are kind of an ''insurance policy'' -- as in, you p ...

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