Trade Talks Founder
Talks aimed at another round of global trade liberalization appeared on the verge of collapse as negotiators in Geneva failed to agree on an agenda for a crucial meeting next month in Hong Kong. The key sticking point: Europe's refusal to consider dramatic reduction in farm protections and subsidies, as demanded by developing countries as a condition for opening their markets. Meanwhile, China agreed to limits on growth of its clothing and textile exports to the United States over the next three years to between 10 and 16 percent.
Trying Times for France
France declared a state of emergency after more than two weeks of violent rioting by angry youths, most of them children of African and Arab immigrants. The turmoil was the latest blow to a system that, claiming to deliver economic and social justice, has left ethnic minorities politically powerless, culturally alienated and welfare-dependent. While the government offered a palliative of more social services, that would do little to address the fundamental problem of rampant unemployment caused by suffocating taxes and inflexible labor laws.
Signs of a Slowdown
The Washington housing market showed signs of cooling. The number of homes sold has fallen, from 3 percent in Prince George's County to 30 percent in Fairfax, while the price of the average sale has dipped slightly. More houses are on the market, and they are sitting unsold for longer periods. Meanwhile, Toll Brothers surprised investors by reporting that orders for its luxury new homes were essentially flat for the third quarter, with steep declines in the West and Mid-Atlantic regions. Toll cited waning consumer confidence.
No AOL Deal for Yahoo
Yahoo pulled out of talks to purchase a stake in its smaller rival America Online. The Wall Street Journal reported that Yahoo had insisted on majority control, while AOL's parent, Time Warner, was reluctant to accept payment in Yahoo stock, having been badly burned by the post-merger drop in AOL stock in 2001. With Internet advertising sales booming and Time Warner under pressure from shareholders to boost its stock price, talks continued with two remaining suitors for the AOL portal and content, Microsoft and Google.
A Business Visionary
Management gurus come and go, but only one remained consistently fresh, authoritative, and wise for 60 years. He was the first to see management as a discrete discipline, something to be practiced more than book-learned. He was early in predicting the role of computers, the rise (and fall) of the Japanese economy, and the importance of teamwork and values-driven management. He was enthralled with innovation, skeptical of charismatic leadership and appalled by excessive executive salaries. Peter Drucker was 95.