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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 Midday.

A fiscal deficit, high unemployment, and an economy that stalled in the last quarter. No, I'm actually not talking about the United States. Japan may be nearing its fourth recession in the past decade. The only bright spot in their current economy, exports - automobiles, semiconductors and machinery. These shipments to other parts of Asia and the U.S. have been the only fuel driving Japan's $4.4 trillion economy. But as America's $10 trillion economy also stalls, demand for these products is expected to weaken. Sony, who reported profits that nearly doubled for its last quarter, has warned it could definitely be marred by the U.S. economy and consumers holding a reign on spending.

And if you are at all wondering what the market did for the month of January, it wasn't good, thanks to those warnings that every company has issued. In all fairness, it's hard not to be cautious about the coming year. In the past two weeks, the threat of war with Iraq has gone from possible to probable, from maybe to when, with allies to alone, and that's enough to make any company wonder about the pace of its growth. Many companies like AOL suspect they won't even being growing. So, it's difficult for investors not to be fearful let alone muster up enthusiasm for the market. Technically speaking, yesterday's Dow close below 8000 proves to many the trend is down.

On a much lighter note, it's January 31st and you still haven't started that diet you promised yourself you'd start on January 1st. The reason, you don't want to be seen at the office with a can of Slim-Fast. Then everyone will know you're trying to diet. But your metabolism is slow and when people don't see you losing weight, they might suspect the truth that you go home and have pizza every night. Snapple to the rescue. Actually, Snapple-a-day - the new meal replacement drink on shelves next month - hopes to look more like Snapple then a weight-loss drink.
Now you have another month. For KERA Marketplace Midday, 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