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Loose change

By Times staff writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 29, 2002

CYBERSPACE BONDS: As part of a government effort to go paperless and reduce costs, the Bureau of Public Debt is talking about eventually issuing savings bonds entirely through online accounts. The timing remains under debate, and any plan would require Treasury approval. "Our intent is to leave as few people behind as possible as we go into the electronics age," bureau spokesman Stephen Meyerhardt said.

AD AUDIENCE: Kids see more television commercials for beer than for sneakers, gum or jeans, a study has found. It also found underage viewers are more likely than adults of legal drinking age to have been exposed to a quarter of the beer commercials aired.

LOYAL CUSTOMERS: Credit card companies, with all their member points and perks, are the new leaders in customer loyalty program participation. In an InsightExpress poll of 500 people, 27 percent said they belonged to a credit card issuer's loyalty program, followed by 19 percent loyal to airlines and their frequent-flier programs.

SAVE THE PENNY: People are attached to pennies, but the attachment may be economic rather than sentimental. Almost two-thirds of respondents to a Gallup poll say the mint should continue producing pennies. And 56 percent oppose rounding cash transactions to the nearest nickel, saying they fear retailers would take advantage of the system to always round up.

$157.3-BILLION: That's the total amount of debt companies, including long-distance provider WorldCom Inc. and cable-TV operator Adelphia Communications Corp., defaulted on in 2002, according to Standard & Poor's. For the record, that's a record.

-- Compiled by Cathy Keim from Times wires.

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