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It's Only Money

By Maxine Shapiro, KERA 90.1 business commentator

Dallas, TX – It's Friday so "It's Only Money," a review of the big and not-so-big stories of the week. I'm Maxine Shapiro with KERA Marketplace Middays.

Well, let's see, last week the stock market liked it when the Rigas family of Aldephia was being taken away in handcuffs. Investors loved it. But this week, when we saw the same picture with different faces, the market went south. It was those naughty boys of WorldCom who were arrested yesterday for securities fraud, for allegedly partaking in the largest corporate fraud in history. Now, word is out today that the thought of going to jail just doesn't please these two former financial officers, so they might use their "get out of jail free" card by cooperating with authorities. Maybe, no pleading the Fifth. Hmmm.

But it was the negative economic data that put a damper on the market. The Commerce Department reported on Wednesday that after revisions were made, the recession of last year was deeper than the original numbers had suggested. And the debate of whether or not it really was a recession was over. Instead of the two months of lower GDP, it was three, and that satisfied the textbook definition of a recession. The manufacturing sector saw a major slowdown in July. It was the lowest amount of activity since January. Up until July, the future was looking bright for manufacturing. New orders were on the rise. But last month, they saw the largest monthly drop in these orders since October. And today, non-farm payrolls reported 6000 new jobs. Compare that with June when 66,000 new jobs were added to the payrolls, you get a pretty bleak picture of the job market. Now the national unemployment rate remained the same at 5.9%.

And do you really want me to mention that Exxon Mobil's profits fell 41%? I didn't think so.

But here's something to look forward to: Texas Opryland, scheduled to open in Grapevine in 2004, is two month ahead of schedule. That's 1900 new employees. Stay healthy and happy. For KERA Marketplace Middays, I'm Maxine Shapiro.

Marketplace Midday Reports air on KERA 90.1 Monday - Friday at 1:04 p.m. To contact Maxine Shapiro, please send emails to mshapiro@kera.org.