Richard Ernsberger Jr.

BEHIND THE SMILE

The conclusion was, to say the least, surprising: a World Value Survey of people in 65 nations, conducted recently by an international group of social scientists and first reported in the British magazine New Scientist, decided that the world's happiest people lived in Nigeria.

Darkest Before The Dawn

The news couldn't be worse. Three years of recession or anemic economic growth, a megalomaniac attempting to build socialism in Venezuela, Argentina's debt default and collapse and--more recently--Bolivia's president run out of office by indigenous people fed up with his pro-business, pro-Washington agenda.

Dangerous Discovery

If there is one thing that the Democratic Republic of the Congo arguably doesn't need, it's oil. The country's northeast Ituri province, abutting Uganda and Rwanda, has been a hellish killing field for the last four years.

Can Lula Lead?

These are trying times for businessmen in Brazil, but Michael Haradom isn't suffering. He owns a prosperous agricultural-chemical factory in So Paulo ($50 million in sales last year), a handsome home and four cars.

Ready For A Role Change?

If you think your job is thankless, try working at the International Monetary Fund. Not so long ago the IMF was the pin-striped fireman of global finance, dashing from one national conflagration to the next, and mostly praised for its work.

Greek Revival

For too long, the words "Greek" and "diplomacy" were an oxymoron. Greece's populist leaders had a knack for picking the wrong friends and annoying the country's allies in NATO and the European Union.

Fortress America

America has long welcomed newcomers from foreign lands--Middle Eastern refugees, Latin American job seekers, Canadian shoppers, Asian students or European tourists who want to try a Budweiser beer and watch a Broadway show.

Start Your Engines

My family has a summer house in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. Twice every season, our serene lake days are disturbed by a sports event. Tens of thousands of rowdy car-racing fans suddenly appear in the rural community.

Qualcomm's Long March

Irwin Jacobs is obsessed with China, but he won't talk about it. Jacobs, 67, is a mild-mannered engineer and MIT professor by background. But he's also the chairman of Qualcomm, one of America's high-tech standard-bearers--literally.

Asia's Roaming Bulls

Pssst, here's a secret: the "wireless superhighway" is here. For years the world's big telecom companies have been racing to offer the first high-speed third-generation (3G) mobile-phone service.

Bigger Or Faster?

Former Boeing executive Tex Boullioun called the aircraft business "the sporty game," because you've got to place huge bets on new jetliners to win. A poker player, Boullioun would have loved the latest bids from the game's biggest rivals.

The Good China

The last time China invaded India, even the Himalayas didn't prove much of a barrier. Red Army troops poured across mountain passes in 1962, occupying a huge swath of Indian territory--some of which China still holds--and stopping only when their utter dominance was clear.

Strangling The Mekong

Great civilizations have flourished along the banks of the Mekong River. The Cambodian kings who once ruled most of Southeast Asia built their glorious temples near the shores of the Tonle Sap lake, the Mekong's pumping heart.

Attacking Free Trade

Stop. What's that sound? Could it be a street protest, circa 1968, that's coming down? Perhaps. At the end of this month, government trade ministers from around the world will gather in misty, caffeine-laced Seattle, Washington.

Growing Pains In Sweden

High-tech Scandinavia? forward-looking Sweden? Johan Stael von Holstein begs to differ. Sure, the Nordic countries have more Internet connections per capita than the United States.

Taking A Jab At Wal-Mart

While consumers and food makers fret about genetically modified food, grocery stores have another worry: how to stay alive in an industry that, like all the others, is rapidly consolidating and going global.

Customers Wanted--Fast

John Richardson is a ruddy Australian who has scaled Mount Everest--twice. Now the 55-year-old executive is engaged in another steep climb, this one in Washington, D.C. He's scrambling to save Iridium--a $5 billion satellite-communications system--from what could be a spectacular failure.

The French Exception

In the Paris headquarters of Axa insurance, just around the corner from the presidential palace, there is an old poster hanging on a wall outside the office of chairman Claude Bebear.

The Fixer-Uppers

JOHN MUSE IS A LANKY TEXAN, but these days he's roaming Europe. He spends the early part of each week flying around the Continent--Munich, Paris, Milan--shopping for companies that might benefit from some U.S.-style strategic thinking.

Fever In The Jungle

PROSPECTORS HAVE LONG known that there was gold in East Kalimantan province. In the rolling hills and jungle seven hours by speedboat up the muddy Mahakam River from the Indonesian mining town of Samarinda, Dayak tribesmen pan for it in the streams--when they're not hunting birds and proboscis monkeys with blowguns.

Get Out Your Earplugs!

Attention, parents: if you thought the video-game craze was abating, keep your earplugs handy. Though sales fell in 1991, a new high-decibel appeal to the teenage sensory system is about to be launched.