Magazine

Talk Show


"We have every confidence in Ron." -- Bausch & Lomb lead director William Waltrip, after TheStreet.com reported that CEO Ronald Zarrella did not have an MBA, as claimed on his r?sum? The Washington sniper has many people too scared to go out to restaurants--or even to the grocery store. Shops, particularly those in strip malls and with large parking lots, report that business is down by 25% since the first attack on Oct. 2.

As a result, grocery and take-out delivery services have seen a sharp rise in sales, forcing them to add new workers to meet demand. Because companies don't want to be seen as profiting from death, it's difficult to quantify all this. Yet grocery deliverer Peapod by Giant, for example, says it's now taking so many orders that it needs to add 20% more drivers and trucks. Consumers can't get their groceries right away anymore: Peapod's delivery dates are pretty much booked solid several days in advance.

And just imagine how many Domino's pizzas are being ordered these days, though the company declines to say.

Takeout Taxi, which delivers food from 125 restaurants to residents in Montgomery County, Md., reports that orders are up 20%. Drivers say that tips are higher, too. Says Takeout owner Richard Baran: "People really appreciate that our drivers are doing this." President Bush may have rejected the Kyoto Protocol, but U.S. companies don't have the luxury of sticking their heads in the sand over global warming.

Multinationals will have to meet restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions already being imposed in Europe. And as 185 nations currently meet in New Delhi to discuss steps beyond Kyoto, many U.S. execs believe similar curbs could be coming here, too. Such cuts "are very likely a reality all over the world," explains DuPont Vice-President David Findlay. "The sooner you start managing your business with that in mind, the better off you will be."

That's why U.S. companies are experimenting with emissions-trading programs modeled after the system that's already used to cut sulfur dioxide pollution. In a pilot program called the Chicago Climate Exchange, set to launch in 2003, companies will trim their own emissions or buy credits from others. Meanwhile, energy and environment broker Natsource is building a carbon "bank." Companies would deposit emissions cuts and get credit for them under various trading plans. Pentagon officials prefer not to talk about it, but Air Force One isn't as high-tech as you might think. The communications equipment on the President's plane was chosen for its ability to withstand a nuclear attack, not for its capabilities. And now, more than a year after the September 11 attacks, the sad state of Air Force One communications--and its inadequacy during the attacks--is starting to leak out.

While being flown to safety on September 11, President Bush was unable to hold a videoconference in flight, adequately monitor news coverage, or receive necessary data from key people on the ground. "The President was not happy," Admiral James Ellis Jr., commander of the U.S. military's Strategic Command said, according to Aviation Week (which, like BusinessWeek, is a unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies). "He couldn't even watch CNN." Once Bush arrived at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, StratCom's more advanced equipment put the President in better communication.

After September 11, money was immediately allocated to upgrade four Presidential planes. Total cost will be less than $50 million, and two are now finished, says Air Force Colonel Robert Hudson. No one wants an unhappy President--much less an out-of-touch one. China is starting to overtake the U.S. as the locomotive for economic growth in Asia. Already, it has unseated the U.S. as Taiwan's No. 1 export market, and last year it eclipsed Japan as South Korea's second-largest export destination, after the U.S. Indeed, insatiable Chinese consumers are gobbling up cars, chips, and just about anything else the rest of Asia can make.

The numbers are striking: Taiwan's exports to China jumped 80% in the first half of this year, the Philippines' exports to China nearly doubled, and those from South Korea, Malaysia, and Thailand have all seen double-digit growth.

Overall, sales to China from the rest of Asia could increase 55% to 85% by 2005, according to Salomon Smith Barney. "China is providing some of the best opportunities for economies in the region," says Philippine Finance Secretary Jose Isidro Camacho.

That's a good thing, because the U.S.--which is still Asia's top export market--has been in the dumps. In the first half of this year, exports to the U.S. from Taiwan, the Philippines, and Japan all dropped by more than 5%.

Sure, some of these exports to China still pale in comparison with those to the U.S. But maybe not for long. In 1994, three renegade Republicans were elected to the House of Representatives as part of the GOP class that broke 40 years of Democratic control. Steve Largent of Oklahoma, and Mark Sanford and Lindsey Graham, both of South Carolina, quickly earned reputations as fiscal conservatives who didn't mind voting against party leadership to hold the line on government spending. Sanford, in particular, took frugality to heart: During his six years in the House, he actually lived in his office. In part because of their shared ideologies, they became personally close: Graham and Largent (a National Football League Hall of Famer) are godfathers to Sanford's youngest son.

Largent and Sanford have since left Congress, but all three are back on the campaign trail this year--seeking higher office. Graham wants to succeed Senator Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.). Largent and Sanford are running for governor. Largent, at least, is likely to win his seat--he came out of the GOP primary in Oklahoma with nearly 90% of the

vote. Keen to own a sports franchise but a few hundred million shy of what it takes? There's a modestly priced alternative: a sports fantasy franchise. For about the price of dinner for two at the stadium, fantasy team owners can draft players and juggle lineups like real owners, either on their own or by joining leagues.

Once a cult activity among sports fanatics, fantasy games are going mainstream. About 15 million Americans now play fantasy football, baseball, basketball, hockey, or auto racing--up from 4 million in 1994, according to the Fantasy Sports Trade Assn. About half of them are doing it on the Web, playing for free on some sites and paying up to $250 a season on others, including ESPN.com, SportingNews.com, SportsLine.com, and Yahoo.com. On Oct. 22, SportsLine doubled previous revenue estimates for this year for its most popular game, Fantasy Football, to $8.5 million, in its first year of charging members to play. "People love demonstrating their knowledge of football, even arguing about it," says SportsLine CEO Michael Levy. "There's not a better way than by owning a fantasy team." Unless you can scrape up $700 million for the real thing, that is.


Cash Is for Losers
LIMITED-TIME OFFER SUBSCRIBE NOW
 
blog comments powered by Disqus