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Loose change

By Times staff writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published October 20, 2002

WADDLE THIS WAY: AFLAC's squawking duck has become a closely guarded business asset. An executive vice president creates and enforces decrees for every use of AFLAC's spokesduck, which helped the insurance company nearly double its sales growth last year to 29 percent. For instance, an edict says the duck will use no props. The word duck is barred from agents' e-mail addresses. And duck costumes are a no-no, as are duck Christmas ornaments.

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SILICON VALLEY SLUMP: Some staggering statistics from Silicon Valley: More than $1-trillion has been sliced from the market value of the area's 150 largest companies since 2000. And nearly 90,000 Santa Clara County jobs have disappeared in two years.

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THEY COULD, BUT THEY DON'T: Investors want to find value in the stock market but typically don't bother to do their homework. Online marketing research company InsightExpress polled 300 investors in July. While 82 percent agreed it was their prerogative to investigate companies they want to invest in, most admitted to not doing so.

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SAVINGS ON THE DOCKET: Private arbitration is not as cost-effective and time-efficient as proponents say, according to a report by Public Citizen. The consumer group found that for most low-income individuals, going to court remains a cheaper and faster way to resolve legal and contractual disputes.

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SWEET, COLD FISH: Thirteen years ago, a Japanese confectioner transformed his outrage at waste of a regional specialty fish into a profitable trend. Yoshiaki Sato's fish ice cream was a hit. Subsequently, so was his ice cream made from sea slugs, whale meat, soft-shelled turtles and cedar chips. Other regions have picked up on his lead. Among exotic regional ice cream flavors: pickled orchid, eel, shrimp and chicken wing.

-- Compiled by Cathy Keim from Times wires.

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