Jan. 1 came -- and with it, a devastating blow to the economies of several poor countries, potentially wiping out millions of jobs -- you mention almost 30 million to be affected ("Who'll survive the textile trade shakeout?" International Outlook, Dec. 20). Since textile and apparel import quotas in the U.S. and Europe are now history, the only solution for the affected countries would be to form an association and clearly state to American and European consumers the importance of buying their locally manufactured goods, even at a marginally higher price. Who knows, the solidarity we are now witnessing may be translated in the consumers' acquiescence to spend a couple of dollars more and thus preserve jobs and dignity for so many.
Ruy Flaks Schneider
Rio de Janeiro
Why Taunt the European Union with the scurrilous headline "Will Microsoft wriggle free again?" right before the decision comes down (European Business, Dec. 27)? I would have hoped that BusinessWeek would remain neutral or even side with Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), perhaps the most outstanding company in the U.S., which is facing nothing more than politically motivated EU charges.
Your story "The bigger Gazprom grows, the further Russia backslides" (European Business, Dec. 20) correctly states there was a 100% increase in costs at the Russian gas monopoly in 2001-04. There is another important indicator. In the same period, cost of gas burned at compressor stations has doubled, while the Russian industrial price index increased by 70%. Gazprom is a textbook example of an inefficient monopoly.
It isn't just U.S. retailers that saw a big rise in online purchases in the run-up to this year's festive season ("E-tailing finally hits its stride," The United States, Dec. 20). In Britain, figures for online purchases have been doubling every 12 months as consumers fully embrace the ease and convenience that Internet shopping presents.
Despite the favorable predictions, online retailing is not without its hiccups, and retailers should not be complacent about their online offerings. Christmas and now the ensuing January sales offer the ultimate opportunity to increase sales, but shoppers do not have time for crashing or painfully slow Web sites. By taking a commonsense approach and working out the breaking points of e-services prior to deployment, retailers can implement sensible models to support demand, ensuring that bargain hunters and businesses can enjoy January sales to their full potential.
Regional Technology Manger
It never ceases to amaze me how much people can earn. But I am more interested in how much they are willing to give to charity ("The top givers," Special Report, Nov. 29). People who have an annual income of around $1.2 million may willingly give up $10,000 of their total earnings. Would the same person be able to donate $500,000 since most other people can actually get by on less than $10,000 per year? The percentage of individual earnings that is actually donated to charity provides a better indicator of how much that person is willing to sacrifice for the greater good of others.
Editor's note: BusinessWeek's ranking of philanthropists includes giving as a percentage of net worth, and we rank corporations by looking at cash and in-kind gifts as a share of corporate revenues.