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Biz bits

The health of companies and the wealth of nations once were closely linked, but not anymore, the Economist says.

By wire services
Published March 5, 2006

THE HEALTH OF COMPANIES and the wealth of nations once were closely linked, but not anymore, the Economist says. "Companies are no longer tied to the economic conditions and policies of the countries in which they are located," especially in Europe and parts of Asia, the magazine says. The reason is globalization. "The world's 40 biggest multinationals now employ, on average, 55 percent of their work forces in foreign countries and earn 59 percent of their revenues abroad," the magazine reports.

TEN MEDICINES have been removed from pharmacy shelves for safety reasons since the start of 2000, compared with 16 withdrawn in the 25 previous years. And there have been twice as many warnings in the past two years as in the previous quarter-century. According to Fortune, all of this might lead one to conclude that the drug approval process is broken. But another conclusion is possible: The approval process has instead become a "quest for certainty" about drug safety.

THE AARP has developed a generation gap, says Smart Money, the personal finance magazine from the Wall Street Journal. The longtime friend of America's elderly population "is fast becoming a marketing juggernaut that sells products and services to baby boomers," the magazine says. William Novelli, chief executive of the organization, concedes that focusing on baby boomers is a risky move. "But we'd be insane" not to try, he says.

IN THE FUTURE, your environment will respond to your needs and moods through "ambient intelligence," the Futurist reports. But it won't be a world of "clunky robots, of gears and circuitry bursting forth from the walls." Rather, sensors in your bed will monitor your sleep and control the amount of light and sound you need. Biosensors imbedded in your coat will monitor your health and caloric intake. A mirror will detect changes in your health over time. But people may resist one high-tech item - bathroom floor tiles that check your weight.

TRAVEL INSURANCE can protect your investment when vacation plans go awry. But how do you decide if the extra cost of a policy is worthwhile? As with any insurance, consider how much you can afford to lose, advises David Lytle, editorial director at A $500 plane ticket probably is not worth ensuring, but a $10,000 package vacation would be hard to swallow if a natural disaster strikes or the tour company goes belly up. Lytle cautions not to buy insurance from a company you've booked your travel with. If they do go bankrupt, you can tack that extra sum onto your losses.

Compiled from Times wires and Web sites.

[Last modified March 5, 2006, 21:16:04]

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