What the Nation's Leading Papers Said This Week

The Fed. The markets. The weakening economy. And let's not forget the suddenly worrisome trade deficit

by Eric Hübler

Forget everything you learned during a six-year bull market. When The Washington Post’s quarterly mutual fund review snaps its fingers, you'll wake up and behave as you once did -- diversifying your portfolio, for example.

The Chicago Tribune’s take on the Jan. 3 stock rally is that it might as well never have happened: The indexes ended down for the week, suggesting that the Fed's rate cut was more than justified.

The New York Times’ (free registration required) fund review reaches the same conclusion as The Post’s – that value isn't valueless after all. Also: Media reporter Felicity Barringer turns what could have been a rewritten press release about layoffs at New York Times Digital into a probing story.

APPLE SOURS. While big papers focused on the effect of the Fed's rate cut on investors, The Orlando Sentinel got the real story: How it might affect local businesses. The St. Louis Post Dispatch, meanwhile, concluded that the time is nigh for mortgage shoppers.

The more things change... Dan Gillmor of The San Jose Mercury News says Apple Computer is again headed for obscurity. (Macheads will want to read this Seattle Times review of the soon-to-debut OS X, however.) Turning to a technology with a future, the Merc sees a miracle: Internet by satellite.

Here’s another story we’re doomed to read every few years: The Cleveland Plain Dealer says the trade deficit is ballooning, meaning that what’s good for American consumers is bad for American manufacturers, particularly steel makers. The Cincinnati Enquirer elaborates on steel's troubles.

What do mad cow disease and bioengineered plants have in common? Absolutely nothing. Yet the European public has added the former to its already long list of reasons to oppose the latter, according to The Los Angeles Times.

MODEL-LESS BUSINESS. You already knew that energy prices are leaping. Did you know, however, that utilities could be doing something about it? The Denver Post says wind power is suddenly cost-competitive.

Impartiality shouldn’t imply ignorance, and in the case of Magdalena Jacobsen, it doesn’t. In a profile of the mediator between American Airlines and its flight attendants on a labor contract, The Dallas Morning News says Jacobsen’s experience as both a flight attendant and an airline executive has earned her respect from both sides.

What, oh what, went wrong with Employee Solutions, a company once lauded in The Arizona Republic and national publications? I'll tell ya what. Read the seventh paragraph of this article. Now, can you say what, exactly, was the company’s business model? Thought not.

Money may or may not be the root of evil, but some of it certainly is the fruit of evil. The St. Petersburg Times says bankers and regulators don’t think they can stop money laundering, but they’re trying.

AMAZIN' AMAZON? Talk about vertical integration! A Maryland entrepreneur wants to establish a helicopter ferry service that, for some clients, could be cheaper than using the roads, says The Baltimore Sun. The Minneapolis Star Tribune tells of another startup based on a simple goal: odor removal.

From the never-would-have-thought-of-that-in-a-million-years file: What happened to the food aboard the U.S.S. Cole after the ship was bombed? It rotted something awful, until a Milwaukee company got a contract to clean it out, says The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

This Boston Globe article about Amazon.com reminded me of the bring-out-your-dead scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail: Its stock price tailspin notwithstanding, Amazon in many ways remains a huge success, and Jeff Bezos remains the prophet of a new retail age, the article argues.

Lately, more and more workers have gotten stock options. Now, some companies are extending the once exotic perk to union workers, says The St. Paul Pioneer Press.

DRUG WITHDRAWALS. Plenty of towns think they can milk travelers for their sustenance. The difference between success and failure in tourism often isn't local scenery, but the locals' knowledge, The (Portland) Oregonian says.

Yanking a product off store shelves always means something wrong has happened. When the product is a pharmaceutical, you're talking tragedy. The Philadelphia Inquirer says drugmakers have withdrawn 11 products in four years after they were shown to do more harm than good.

They make the stuff sound like heroin! The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says the town has discovered the highs and lows of Red Bull, an extremely caffeinated “energy” drink.

Finally this week: The Kansas City Star’s Jerry Heaster ruminates on a sobering milestone: becoming the oldest person at his workplace.

Hübler reports for The Denver Post

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