"I'm telling my people to make some loans with some hair on them." --Henry L. Meyer III, CEO of KeyCorp, who thinks it's an opportune time to step up lending to the bank's corporate customers With health-care premiums expected to rise 14% to 19% next year, business will be hit hard. The exception: companies that have brought their health-care programs in-house. Once viewed as philanthropy, the practice is now getting attention as a major money-saver. "A lot more companies are realizing they can save money by taking more control of employee health care," says Dr. Wayne Lednar, Eastman Kodak's (EK) corporate medical director.
At Quad/Graphics, a printer with 14,000 employees, the company's own doctors and nurses offer primary care on-site, and the company has a small network of specialists. Over the past four years, Quad's health-care costs have risen just 6% annually. That means their health-care spending is now 17% less than the industry average. "Our plan saves us money, cuts down on the bureaucracy associated with managed care, and employees love it," says John Neuberger, a director at Quad.
At software maker SAS Institute, on-site clinics saved $1 million in 2000, when SAS last did a comparison. Eastman Kodak and SC Johnson also have brought some of their health care in-house. As premiums jump, it may not be long before others do the same. Waiting for Wall Street to repent? It could take a while. On Dec. 3, regulators forced five firms--Goldman Sachs (GS), Morgan Stanley (MWD), Citigroup's Salomon Smith Barney (C), Deutsche Bank (DB), and U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray (USB)--to pay $1.65 million each for failing to retain and store e-mail properly. They're supposed to keep electronic communications for three years and make sure they're easily accessible for two.
The $1.65 million penalty is piddling to the huge banks. It's only a bit more than the $1.35 million earned, on average, by a senior managing director in a year. Besides, playing by the rules can be far costlier. Merrill Lynch (MER) paid $100 million in May to settle with New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer after he found a trail of e-mail, dating back to 1999, that pointed up conflicts of interest.
Yet the banks are whining. The Securities Industry Assn. complains that regulators need to better specify which e-mail, exactly, firms must retain. Hard to imagine why there's so little trust in Wall Street. In 1989, lise buyer spent a weekend visiting Santas in malls. As a retailing analyst, she thought it was the best way to find out which toys would become hot sellers. Buyer heard all about Ninja Turtles and endured plenty of funny looks, she says. "Who stands in line to see Santa with no kid?"
BusinessWeek reporters, that's who. Our own poll of Santas predicts a banner year for Bob the Builder: Every Santa we visited said that toys based on Bob, star of a children's TV show, were favorites. "That's a good thing for society," says a San Mateo (Calif.) Santa, a.k.a. James Davis. "It means [kids] are thinking of building things instead of blowing things up." In Atlanta, boys ask for video games and Power Rangers, while girls want Barbies and laptops. Chicago's a hot spot for Thomas the Tank Engine and Britney Spears CDs.
A New Jersey Santa, a.k.a. Raymond Beesley, says kids often ask for things without knowing quite what they are. Like vacuum cleaners. "They're always being told to clean their rooms, and they see ads with spotless rooms and vacuums, and that's what they want," he says. Maybe Santa can sweep the chimney while he's at it.
Job Search Only wing tips, white shirts, and humble attitudes need apply. While brokerages slash thousands of jobs for sell-side analysts and bankers--70,000 such cuts have been made since January, 2001--they're on the lookout for specialists in today's lucrative fields. Bond desks and wealth-services groups are hiring, as are hedge funds--with more than 200 new funds launched just last year. But according to a November survey from recruiter Russell Reynolds Associates, those doing the hiring are all saying the same thing: No hotshots, please.
"Superstar solo acts" won't get your foot in the door, says Nicholas Hurd, managing director at Russell Reynolds. After seeing the troubles caused by the likes of Credit Suisse First Boston's (CSR) Frank Quattrone and Salomon Smith Barney's (C) Jack Grubman, firms no longer want any department to be too closely linked with any one personality. Even mutual-fund companies such as Putnam are promoting management "teams" rather than star fund "managers."
Besides toning down the bravado, seasoned Wall Streeters looking for jobs must lower their salary expectations, the survey says. Firms are keen on candidates who aren't primarily motivated by money.
What? A job on Wall Street for the pure joy of it? The times, they are a-changing. Baby boomers have never been content to go through life quietly, and it looks as if they will be no different in death. Undertakers are reporting a boom in "themed" funerals, where clients design services celebrating the deceased's passions--from hunting to cooking. "Baby boomers seem to want to gain possession of the funeral service and forgo the traditional," says David Walkinshaw of the National Funeral Directors Assn. With boomers getting involved in the planning, the NFDA says that half of funerals now have themes.
Such services can be as elaborate as the Burbank (Calif.) ceremony for a boxer that featured a real boxing ring. Others simply include personal memorabilia from the dead person. Wade Funeral Home in St. Louis, like other funeral parlors, is building permanent sets to accommodate some themes. Mourners in "Big Mama's Kitchen" can share the deceased's favorite recipes, cooked on the spot. Wade's parent company, Perpetua, plans to expand in the Midwest and East by building 50 funeral homes with sets, including real fish ponds for fishermen.
Themed funerals don't have to cost more, since the coffin is no longer the center of attention. At a themed funeral, "instead of a $3,000-to-$5,000 casket, the family might spend $295," on it, says funeral director Michael Kubasak. What's more, family members and friends often provide the props. For the boxer, says Kubasak, the ring was supplied free by his old gym. The number of side dishes served with meals is declining, which means Americans are eating fewer fruits and vegetables. Here's how the average American's diet has changed since 1990: