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"Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you" -- Paul Simon, lyrics to Mrs. RobinsonEDITED BY ROBERT McNATTReturn to top

Suddenly, a Flood of Black Investing

HERE'S A TWIST ON BLACK POWER. African Americans, benefiting from rising incomes, are showing an increasingly keen interest in the stock and bond markets. Forget stereotypes that depict African Americans as financially naive. A recent study of wages and salaries by Target Market News, a Chi-cago-based marketing newsletter, found that black household investment in stocks and bonds grew from 3% of pretax income in 1995 to 9% in 1997, a 200% increase.

According to BUSINESS WEEK calculations based on U.S. Census Bureau data and Target's figures, black households pumped an average of $2,967 into the market in 1997. While that's believed to be far less, per household, than what white Americans invested, the total value of black-owned investments was $13.6 billion, quadruple what it was two years earlier, says Target Market News.

Bigger salaries are key to the growth in black investment, says Ken Smikle, editor of Target Market News. Average black household income from 1995 through 1997 grew by 3%, with more affluent African Americans doing even better. As long as that income trend lasts, expect black investors to become a bigger part of the market.EDITED BY ROBERT McNATTReturn to top


Black Household Investment

1997 $2,967

1996 2,324

1995 960


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Will the U.N. Sell a Seal of Approval?

HUMAN-RIGHTS GROUPS ARE UPSET OVER A SERIES OF ALLIANCES that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is forging with Dow Chemical, AT&T, Pfizer, and 17 other multinationals. Each company is forking over $50,000 to help fund meetings for a new UNDP-created group, the Global Sustainable Development Facility (GSDF). But activists charge that the cash, which may give companies the right to use GSDF logos in ads, only serves to give the U.N.'s imprimatur to private industry.

The Transnational Resource & Action Center ( has already posted UNDP documents that describe the "worldwide recognition" that corporations will gain "for their cooperation with the UN/UNDP." Those documents also broach the possibility of a "specially designed logo for the GSDF initiative."

GSDF manager Andrei Marcu denies that the UNDP is selling out: "We are not here to sell the logo or become agents for corporations." The fees, he says, merely facilitate project meetings. And the new logo? It has yet to be designed. The U.N.'s famous crossed olive branches surrounding a world map, as well as the UNDP logo, are explicitly off-limits. But a GSDF logo? Corporations will happily flaunt that.EDITED BY ROBERT McNATTReturn to top

U.S. Innovation Ain't What It Used to Be

THE U.S. ECONOMY IS THE ENVY OF THE WORLD, in part for its ability to come up with new products. But that lead in innovation may not last, warns a study from the Washington-based Council on Competitiveness, a nonprofit study group founded by former Hewlett-Packard CEO John Young in 1986.

Economists Michael Porter of the Harvard B-school and Scott Stern of Massachusetts Institute of Technology compared 25 nations on an overall "innovation index" based on research and development funding, among other factors. The U.S. topped the charts in the 1980s and 1990s. But if current trends continue, by 2005, the U.S. will trail Japan and such upstarts as Finland, Denmark, and Sweden because of inadequate spending on basic research and education and a shrinking percentage of technical workers.

The picture is gloomy in such areas as advanced-materials science and solid-state physics, key to a host of information technologies. Software is also vulnerable. "This [report] is a warning shot across the bow, signaling that we are living off past innovations," says council President John Yochel- son. The report's findings will be used to support hikes in science and education spending.EDITED BY ROBERT McNATTReturn to top

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