What the Nation's Leading Papers Said This Week

Factory floor fears of a recession, plus: CDs tied to stocks, steel's never-ending travails, and the man who would -- one day -- rule computer retailing

Let’s start this week with an economic wake-up call: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel interviews factory workers who are painfully aware how vulnerable they are to a possible recession.

Do highly-paid executives really need interest-free home loans... and should shareholders pay for them? This is the sort of question investors may ask as sinking stock prices lay bare outlandish perks, suggests The New York Times (free registration required). Also: young people have become serious investors, and old people valued employees.

Nine percent unemployment is good? For Europe it is, and it’s a signal that the Continent's economic growth may soon surpass that of the U.S., says The Washington Post.

JARRING TIMES AT JANUS. Would you buy a new car from this man? E-trepreneur Scott E. Painter admits to The Los Angeles Times that his previous ventures have failed. Yet there's investor interest in his next outing -- a startup automaker called Flint.

A residential gateway isn’t a shack with a security guard. It’s a computer that links all the electronic gadgets in your house -- or could one day, says The San Jose Mercury News.

Good mutual funds “kick the tires” of the companies they buy. Who kicks the funds’ tires? The Denver Rocky Mountain News offers this Q&A with managers at ailing Janus, who maintain that one bad year doesn't equal disaster. Also: praise for Janus CEO Tom Bailey’s tough-love letter to investors.

With utility regulation on many people’s minds this expensive winter, The Denver Post looks at how utilities get their natural gas -- spot purchases and long-term contracts -- and finds pluses and minuses to both. Also: how life changed for a rural couple when the FDA cleared their veterinary pain relief product for human use.

SUNSET FOR STEEL? Oregonians and Washingtonians are supposed to cut their electricity consumption by 10%. That will be difficult for businesses to do, says The Oregonian. A companion story looks at why microchip plants are such colossal electricity users.

Steelmakers have lots of problems, and foreign competition is just one of them, says The Detroit News. Also: if you thought George W. Bush likes unions, you're wrong. More on steel: The Cleveland Plain Dealer continues a series on LTV's travails with a profile of the judge who may hear the company’s bankruptcy case.

Pro-business forces have long blamed regulation for stifling growth, but to the National Association of Securities Dealers regulation itself is a growth industry. Two top NASD officials tell The Chicago Tribune why. Also: Harley Davidson succeeds by defying every retail rule; and gay publications compete for readers most publications don’t care about.

Once upon a time, workers didn’t have PCs -- just terminals hooked to central computers. That's making a comeback, with a new name: application service provider. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel profiles the tech evangelist known as the father of the ASP.

STOCK-LINKED CDs. If you’re bothered because mutual funds don’t disclose their holdings, The Boston Globe’s Charles A. Jaffe offers an idea: check how your funds did on Jan. 3, the day a Fed rate cut propelled many stocks. A fund’s performance that day offers important clues as to the management’s investing style, Jaffe advises. Also in The Globe: On a Silicon Valley recruiting trip, MIT management students are stoic upon learning they’ll probably have to work for a living. And a wonderful piece on ex-lancers: independent contractors who realize corporate wasn’t bad after all.

According to The Minneapolis Star Tribune, farmers and food processors have been too quick to ask: Please, sir, may I have some more? Mergers on both ends of the food chain are worrisome, the article says.

The Japanese have their keiretsu; we have clusters. The St. Paul Pioneer Press says policymakers want to replicate the success of Minnesota’s medical devices industry as an example of related businesses helping each other thrive.

What do Philadelphia and Austria have in common? They aren't Silicon Valley and probably never will be despite their efforts to incubate high-tech clusters, says The Philadelphia Inquirer.

... IT'S "SUPER'' DELL. You can have your cake and eat it too -- at least some of it. The St. Louis Post Dispatch discusses the pros and cons of certificates of deposit designed to give you the upside of stocks without the downside.

It isn't good when a pharmacist gets a hand-scribbled prescription for 20 milligrams of rqrtpksafmf. That’s partly why an Ohio company wants doctors to write prescriptions on hand-held computers. While that approach could eliminate errors, it’s too expensive for many doctors, reports The Cincinnati Enquirer.

The Salt Lake Tribune takes an admirably evenhanded look at its new boss: Denver-based newspaper mogul William Dean Singleton, for whom the bottom line is, well, the bottom line.

Finally this week, the Salt Lake Deseret News introduces us to the man whose ambition is to rule computer retailing: "Super" Dell Schanze.

by Eric Hübler

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