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"We have a few little glitches in the road here."--President Clinton, on the Asian financial crisis, in a statement made before he reevaluated its seriousnessEDITED BY ROBERT McNATTReturn to top

REPUBLICANS PAY THEIR UNION DUES

WITH BIG LABOR'S KEY ROLE in defeating the fast-track trade bill, you'd think Capitol Hill Republicans would be in no mood to grant small favors to unions. But when it comes to the Export-Import Bank, labor and Republicans found they have something in common.

And to make the alliance even odder, credit Representative Bernard Sanders of Vermont, the only socialist member of the House, as the matchmaker. Ex-Im, which guarantees loans to U.S. companies to finance exports, seemed headed for oblivion earlier this year, as critics decried it as an unneeded corporate subsidy. In May, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney warned bluntly that the labor movement--a long-time supporter of Ex-Im--would turn on the agency "if the bank becomes more concerned with helping corporations stay competitive (in an increasingly global labor market) than with creating jobs for American workers." That scared Big Business, which likes the support that companies can get from Ex-Im. So it pushed Congress hard to reauthorize the bank. And Sanders, a friend of labor, worked an amendment into the reauthorization bill that would reserve a second seat for unions on the Export-Import Bank's 15-member advisory board.

Both unions and Republicans supported the bill, which President Clinton is expected to sign soon, saving Ex-Im and adding to labor's clout at the bank.Douglas Harbrecht EDITED BY ROBERT McNATTReturn to top

MATCHMAKER, FIND ME AN MBA

PUBLISHING TITANS SOFTBANK and International Data Group love to beat each other to the punch covering technology. But now Softbank, owner of PC Magazine, and IDG, publisher of Computerworld, are teaming up in the hot market in MBA recruitment.

Both companies' venture arms have invested in MBA Central, which uses E-mail and the Net for matchmaking. So far, some 175 companies have paid up to $2,000 for a list of candidates, who E-mail in resumes not knowing the employer's exact requirements. If there's a match, MBA Central notifies the job-seeker, 20,000 of whom have signed on.

In 1996, Softbank Technology Ventures staked $1 million on the Palo Alto (Calif.) startup. In a new round of financing in November, MBA Central brought in IDG Ventures, for about $1.5 million, and others. IDG Ventures' managing general partner, Patrick Kenealy, sees cross-selling potential in the marriage of MBA Central's database and IDG's mailing lists. So does Softbank. MBA Central CEO Jeffrey Hyman feared problems between the two, "but if I had sensed an issue, I would have secured other funding."Jennifer Reingold EDITED BY ROBERT McNATTReturn to top

SEVEN DIAPERS FOR SEVEN BOTTOMS

KIMBERLY-CLARK, MAKER OF Huggies, and Procter & Gamble, creators of Pampers, have duked it out for years for the right to swathe the most baby bottoms in the $4.3 billion retail disposable diaper market. So the first U.S. septuplets, born to Bobbi and Kenny McCaughey in Iowa, provided a classic battle in the diaper wars.

The winner is P&G, by default. Just a few hours after the septs arrived, a Procter rep was on the phone offering free diapers and wipes for all seven kids until they are potty trained. For the past 20 years, in fact, P&G has routinely offered dipes and wipes to families with multiple births of three or more. But in this case P&G was so eager to be associated with the historic births that it dropped its usual restriction to limit the offer to a few months. BUSINESS WEEK estimates the cost of the diapers and wipes at $8,500 for three years.

Kimberly-Clark, the No. 2 diapermaker, did not pitch the McCaugheys. Then again, Kimberly-Clark has announced 5,000 job cuts. Maybe one of them was the person who should have called Iowa.Peter Galuszka EDITED BY ROBERT McNATTReturn to top


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