Marc Levinson

Wired To Succeed

BARBARA SCHMIDT IS NO novice when it comes to investing. A homeopathist in Berlin's tony Savignyplatz, she and husband Peter, a dentist, have been socking away retirement money for decades.

So Let's Be Friends

U.S. WARSHIPS COUNTER CHINESE warnings about elections in Taiwan. Washington threatens trade sanctions if China doesn't stop the piracy of software and CDs.

Back To Normal

SOME COMPANIES, IT SEEMS, JUST can't do anything right. Take Microsoft, the king of software. Last week, to great anticipation, the House of Windows announced its secondquarter profits.

How Low Should They Go?

FOR ALAN GREENSPAN, IT SHOULD BE the best of times. His Federal Reserve Board has done the all-but-impossible, squeezing inflation while bringing unemployment near rock bottom.

The End Of Easy Money

MCDONALD'S HAS BUILT ITS BUSIness on happy faces, and not just among kids going gaga over Big Macs and fries. Investors, too, have feasted beneath the golden arches.

The War On Work

Bill Clinton loves it. George Bush expanded it. So did Ronald Reagan, who called it "the best anti-poverty, best pro-family, best job-creation measure to come out of Congress." With bloodlines like that, the Earned Income Tax Credit shouldn't be in the news.

Rush To The Exits

Talk about a bargain! In the 1980s, the Wall Street tower known as Financial Square cost more than $400 million to build. Last week the elegant skyscraper overlooking New York Harbor changed hands for a third that much.

Rough And Ready

If it feels good to get into a toyota and step on the gas, well, it should. A special heel pad, buried beneath the rug and the floor mat, helps the driver's foot rest easy on the pedal.

Exiled On Wall Street

The securities and exchange commission is investigating. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission is curious, too. Washington, the town that can't live without crisis, is hyped.

It's Raining Phones

GARY PFUND IS NO TECHNOPHOBE. The 87-year-old hotel manager is at home with his home computer, and he takes a cell phone on out-of-town drives. When GTE Corp.

Watching The Tide Rise

Buaban Wanmoon wanders around Laksi Plaza in Bangkok with a hot-dog-on-a-stick in her hand. There's nothing remotely like this vast, air-conditioned shopping mall in Buaban's village in northern Thailand -- and even if there were, the scant living her parents eke out from growing rice and manioc wouldn't let them enjoy it.

How Chicago Lost The Future

On a warm Chicago evening, the wheeling and dealing continues after the sun goes down. A skeleton crew staffs the 15th-floor trading room of Dean Witter all night, working the phones, buying marks and selling yen, keeping a close eye on computers silently registering new economic data from Australia and the morning gold price from Zurich.

Scorecard: Making the Grade on Trade

WHEN HE SIGNED ON AS Bill Clinton's trade representative 16 months ago, Mickey Kantor promised big changes. ""The stale debates between free trade, protectionism, managed trade have no meaning in the real agenda of negotiating agreements and making sure agreements work,'' he says.

Sorry, No Crisis Here

NOBODY CARES WHY markets rise. But it's a fundamental theorem of economics: when markets quake, something must be to blame. Today's favorite culprit is derivatives, high-tech, high-controversy financial products that are ringing cash registers-and alarm bells-around the world.

Surf's Up

IN THE DEPRESSED SUMMER OF 1992, Rick Devine had one of those Silicon Valley ideas. Parents, he discerned, are uneasy about their children's taste in computer games, but have no simple way to test the products.

Quick And Dirty 101

GOT A CAUSE? START A think tank. Pick a weighty name, something like Heritage Foundation or Economic Strategy Institute. Get a tax exemption and give yourself a title.

The Noise Is The News

If words were deeds, Bill Clinton's trade policy might well be revolutionary. Within the past month alone, his administration has blamed Europe's subsidized plane maker Airbus Industrie for hard times in the U.S. aircraft industry; threatened retaliation against European procurement rules; demanded changes in the proposed free-trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, and warned Japan to buy more computer chips from U.S. firms.

The Roaring '90S?

For any other president, it would be a welcome gift. What can beat low inflation, falling interest rates and solid economic growth? But for Bill Clinton, the timing could have been better.

The Supply Police

Companies that make tools and building materials usually love to take orders from Home Depot. But last month the Atlanta retailer demanded more from its 300 foreign suppliers than the customary shipments of wrenches and lumber.

Let's Make A Deal

For two years American International Group had played by the rules. Eager to sell travel insurance at Tokyo's teeming Narita airport, AIG had courted Japanese officials over sake and sushi, worked the maze of government agencies and filed mountains of forms.

Bailing Out The Jobless

Long before she became a well-known writer, Margaret Walker Alexander walked the streets of Depression-era Chicago, looking for work. After seven months of searching, she pulled down a job with the government's Works Progress Administration in 1936.

Stormy Weather Ahead

There's no doubt that Jack Smith's first task at the helm of General Motors is to chop costs with a vengeance. But even if Smith succeeds in radically transforming the world's largest company, GM's fate isn't entirely within his control.

THE HAND WRINGERS

Times are tough, jobs are scarce and the stock market's struggling. But not everyone is suffering: perhaps because misery loves company, the stagnation of the 1990s has created a roaring bull market in doom and gloom.

SALVATION TOO SOON?

"The Big Fix." "Inside Job." "Bankrupt." These recent book titles don't begin to convey the malfeasance, corruption and plain old incompetence that caused the near meltdown of the nation's thrift and banking industries.

The Fat And Happy '80S

Remember the 1980s? The decade of Ronald Reagan's presidency is already receding into history as the second Gilded Age - a time when, amid prosperity, many Americans became worse off.

Honey, I Shrunk The Bank

The battered banking industry has turned the corner: most major banks posted higher profits in 1991's fourth quarter, and bad loans are finally receding. But at the Park Avenue headquarters of Citicorp, the nation's largest banking company, red ink is still flowing copiously.

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