Already a Bloomberg.com user?
Sign in with the same account.
What do you have when your income puts you in the top third of U.S. households? Not much, say some of those making an annual salary of at least $75,000. A recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center asked more than 1,500 people to describe themselves as either "haves" or "have-nots" in American society. Of those in the upper third, 19%, almost one in five, said they were have-nots. That's up substantially from what their counterparts said about 20 years ago, when just 7% categorized themselves as have-nots in a Gallup Poll. One explanation: Cornell University economist Robert Frank says that since then most income gains have gone to households at the very top of the income pyramid, so even people in the highest third feel poor by comparison. No word from Pew on the number of have-not millionaires. Halloween aside, it's a scary time for candy. Concern about childhood obesity is gnawing at demand, says Chicago researcher Mintel International. From 2005 to 2006, sales at Halloween grew 21% but dipped at Christmas (by 24%), Valentine's Day (6%), and Easter (3%). And from 2001 to 2006, candy revenues fell 14%. An exception: dark chocolate, thought to have antioxidant properties. It's "the new red wine," says Tom Vierhile of Productscan Online. Interested in owning a piece of Stalinist history? For $350,000, you can take delivery of the 65-ton armored train car once used by Lavrenty Beria, head of Stalin's notorious secret police, the NKVD. The rail carriage, whose interior appears worn but serviceable in photos, was recently put up for sale on Iz Ruk v Ruki (From Hand to Hand), a Russian Web site (www.irr.ru) commonly used to sell real estate and secondhand automobiles.
The seller, who will provide only his screen name, Kirill, says he represents the railcar's current owner, "a private individual" in Georgia (where Beria was born) who somehow acquired the item in the early 1990s, when Soviet state property was up for grabs.
Kirill says he has received numerous offers from the listing, including one from Poland. The German-built wagon was constructed to protect Beria from the bombs and bullets of would-be assassins as he traveled the Soviet Union in the 1930s to supervise Stalin's reign of terror. The World's Easiest Problem-Solving Class, a book for middle- and high-schoolers, has become an adult best-seller in Japan, rising as high as No. 2 on Amazon (AMZN
) Japan. Author Kensuke Watanabe, until recently a McKinsey consultant, says he wanted to teach Japanese kids to "use critical thinking skills more." His 117-page paperback offers two case studies: a kids' band looking to increase concert attendance and a teenager saving to buy a computer. Both use "business" graphics like logic trees, along with cute drawings. Daisuke Tanaka, who runs the business section at a flagship Maruzen book chain outlet in Tokyo, says adults like the "simple terms" used to explain concepts. McKinsey has not officially endorsed the book, noting that Watanabe??ho is looking for an American publisher??rote it "in a private capacity." A TV documentary about Nazi-era misdeeds of the Quandt family, BMW's controlling shareholder, has stunned Germany, triggering press coverage about "a fortune stained in blood." In response, the long-reclusive family, worth $34 billion, says it will fund research on the role of patriarch G??nther Quandt and son Herbert (both deceased), who used slave labor at their company, Accumulatorenfabrik, to make batteries for Nazi rockets. Neither was prosecuted at Nuremberg because of lack of available evidence. On Oct. 5, five days after German public TV aired The Silence of the Quandts, in which concentration camp survivors testified to atrocities and deaths at the factory, the family said it was "moved" by the film and recognized that their history from 1933 to 1945 has "not been sufficiently cleared up." After the war, the battery company flourished, creating a fortune tapped by Herbert to buy BMW in 1959. Like many other German companies, BMW, which the film does not implicate, long ago opened its wartime archives and contributed to funds for forced-labor survivors. Forget the gym break. The Walkstation, which Steelcase (SCS
) will launch in November, is designed to keep you on the corporate treadmill, literally. The Grand Rapids (Mich.) office-furniture maker says the $6,500 adjustable module, which includes room for a chair in some models, is the first in a line of office gear aimed at helping desk jockeys get healthier. Created with Dr. James Levine, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic, it has a roller belt that moseys along at a no-sweat 1 to 2 mph, "about the same pace that people walk between their cars and the front door," says Levine. In a small study published last month in the British Journal of Sports & Medicine, Levine and colleagues found that 14 obese workers using a prototype of the machine burned an average 100 calories an hour. Steelcase says Wal-Mart (WMT
) is trying out three Walkstations at its Bentonville (Ark.) offices.