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Biz bits

By wire services
Published July 24, 2005

IS AMERICA BECOMING the 97-pound weakling of the world economy, pushed around by China? Fortune calls that "the nation's new anxiety," as Asian nations loom ever larger on the global economic landscape. "The problem isn't Chinese companies threatening U.S. firms. It's U.S. workers unable to compete with those in China - or India, or South Korea," Fortune senior editor-at-large Geoffrey Colvin writes. This isn't the first time Americans have been worried about an Asian economic threat; recall Japan's rapidly expanding economy in the 1980s. Says Colvin: "We adapted and prospered, as we always had - and Japan didn't."

THE RECENT TERRORIST ATTACK in London marked a "new phase in the terror war" that is spotlighting a burgeoning worldwide business, BusinessWeek says: homeland security experts. It says a growing crop of security consultants - armed with a background in law enforcement, intelligence or technology - has sprung up to help major corporations increase their defenses. It says consultants are raking in millions in fees as companies gird for the worst.

A RECENT SURVEY found the average American worker admits to wasting 2.09 hours per day at work. If you are wasting a lot of time at work, ask yourself some questions. Do you need more responsibilities? An employee is obligated to tell his boss that he has available time and needs more work to do, says Bill Coleman of, which specializes in compensation information. Is it time to look for a new job? Wasting time at work could be a signal of your unhappiness. Perhaps it's time to put your time and energy toward work you'll enjoy, rather than suffering through work you do not.

SUMMER IS A SMART TIME to put tax-planning strategies into place, financial experts say. Ways to lower your adjusted gross income in the 2005 tax year include identifying portfolio underperformers. When you realize a loss on the sale of stocks, bonds or mutual funds that you've owned for more than a year, you can deduct the losses against capital gains, resulting in tax savings. Or convert nondeductible interest into a tax break by getting a home equity loan to pay off high-interest credit card balances. The interest on home equity loans is deductible, up to certain limits.

YOUR IDEA OF RETIREMENT may be lolling on the beach or working in a less demanding job. Whatever the scenario, planning is important - financial planning as well as planning what to do with your time and where to live. BusinessWeek's annual retirement guide in its July 25 issue helps you to think through these issues and others.

Compiled from Times wires and Web sites.

[Last modified July 21, 2005, 21:15:02]

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