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  • Gross: Mismanagement 101

    The dollar's woes reflect the world's collective verdict on the ability of the U.S. to manage the global financial system.
  • Honey, I Shrunk The Car

    Gas costs are up. So is Third World consumer demand. The result: a new breed of cars that are cooler, cheaper and incredibly small. Goodbye, Hummer.
  • To Your Credit

    The best new card offers are reserved for small-business owners.
  • Hit Me With Your Best Shot

    It's easy to find the perfect shot of espresso at a neighborhood café. But for those who prefer to drink their first cup of the day in PJs, home brewing is iffier. Thankfully, a range of new luxury machines are up to the task. They offer plenty of the pressure required to make espresso and they're also good at making the crema on top.Near the top end, Saeco's Primea Cappuccino Touch Plus prepares two cappuccinos or latte macchiatos at once using a built-in grinder to grind beans, a colorfully illuminated touchscreen and nanotechnology to clean itself ($2,900; Illy Francis Francis X6 is the iconic Italian espresso machine that has added pizzazz to kitchens for 20 years. It now uses premeasured Illy paper pods (about 70 cents apiece) instead of loose grounds to make each cup ($500; De'Longhi Lattissima is a one-touch phenom that uses a choice of 12 espresso pods (made by Nestlé's Nespresso, about 45 cents each; to effortlessly make all...
  • Endless Santa: Netflix Of Toys

    Every parent knows toddlers have short attention spans, especially when it comes to toys: they quickly tire of what they just got and want new stuff. But who can afford that? One entrepreneurial Houston mother of 15-month-old twins has a solution: BabyPlays, which applies a Netflix rental model to educational playthings aimed at the diaper set.Lori Pope pulled some $250,000 out of the oilfield supply business she already owns to launch the Web start-up last fall. With a warehouse of 6,000 toys, offers various membership plans that allow parents to rent toys as long as they want, and then send them back for different toys. At $37 a month, the cheapest plan allows families to keep four toys at a time. The most expensive plan is $65 a month for 10 toys.Pope shops for playthings she thinks are safe, stimulating and sturdy. She sterilizes and shrink-wraps each toy before sending it out. Her business plan calls for 12,000 toys by summer and profitability in 18 months, but...
  • Bigger Than At Times Square

    The advertising industry is always looking for the next big idea. So here's one that spans more than five acres: London-based Ad-Air Group is placing gigantic flat ads in deserts and farm fields adjacent to airports. Captive airline passengers who glance out the window on takeoff or landing won't be able miss them.In October, the firm unveiled its first ad, what it calls "the largest advertisement in the world," near Dubai International. CEO Andrew Ward says that the site particularly appealed to the large real-estate company that placed the ad because it's a key spot for catching the attention of people doing business in Europe and Asia. Within weeks, Ward expects to announce two new ads in London and two in Paris, and then ads this summer in Atlanta, Phoenix, Denver, Tokyo and Beijing.The huge ads, which will cost companies at least $1 million, are low tech and not expensive to produce. They're digitally printed on pieces of PVC mesh that are assembled on frames that sit a few...
  • Samuelson: OPEC's Triumph

    For nearly half-a-century, the organization has been a cartel in name only. Now it may be the real deal.
  • Does Aromatherapy Work?

    Aromatherapy adherents will tell you that basil can clear headaches and lemon can be an antidepressant. The idea that scents can be used medicinally has become so widely accepted that so-called "essential" oils, or highly concentrated plant scents, have found their way into a slew of lotions, candles, sprays and massage products promising to help you sleep, wake you up or relieve your stress. But do they work?While it's true that a pleasant smell can put you in a good mood, new research casts doubt on some of the reputed healing powers of aromatherapy. Researchers at Ohio State University found that lemon and lavender oil had no physiological effect on study subjects, despite lemon's reputation as a stimulant and lavender's as a sleep aid. They taped cotton balls that had been dipped in lemon oil, lavender oil or water to subjects' noses and conducted a variety of tests ranging from pain response (dunking feet in cold water) to mood studies (completing psychological tests). Although...
  • Russia's Democratic Path

    The West underestimates the prospects for the gradual emergence of a democracy in the land of Stalin and Lenin.
  • Asia's Achilles Heel

    As China and India lose control of their economies, they are failing to provide reliable power to their citizens. How will they manage to curb carbon emissions? 
  • Affording Your Dream Kitchen

    Marc and Nicole Lombardi got a $45,000 renovation for just $7,000 by successfully auditioning for a home-improvement show. Here's how.
  • Samuelson on Stagflation

    We're not there yet, but the Federal Reserve may be steering us back to the 1970s by underestimating the danger of higher inflation.
  • Borrowers: Out In the Cold

    It's no longer just people with bad credit who are feeling the squeeze. Americans with good credit at all income levels are now caught in a full-blown credit crunch.
  • Twilight of the Media Moguls

    John Malone helped build a generation of media titans like no other—only to cut them down to size and reveal them as mere mortals. Just ask Barry Diller.
  • Not Made In Japan

    Once upon a time, the country was a leader in technology. Now it's struggling to find its place in the digital age. Can an entrenched corporate culture change?
  • Let It Snow, Let It Snow

    Betting on the weather may not sound like a business plan, but it's what farmers, ski resorts and utilities do all the time. Now they're turning to new financial products to hedge the risk. "Every November or December we get nervous," says Eliot Peyser, CEO of Manhattan's Weatherproof Garment Co. So this year he bought $10 million of insurance to protect against a warm winter.The insurance policy, arranged by weather-hedging specialty firm Storm Exchange of New York, is a step beyond the weather-futures contracts that have traded on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange since 1999. Those contracts track heating and cooling days, as well as snowfall, for many cities. The theory is that prices are set by a market balanced between buyers who want bad weather, like shovel manufacturers, and those who don't, like builders. The contracts have become a big business of their own: last year, $19 billion in weather contracts were traded. That's a deluge—or a windfall—depending on the hedger's...
  • Toys Go Tech...and Green

    As Toy Fair 2008 kicks off in New York City, high-tech and eco-friendly toys dominate the buzz.
  • Real Estate: Downsizing

    How moving from a 6,000-square-foot custom home to a 370-square-foot recreational vehicle helped quell one family's 'House Lust.'