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PODCAST: An orc victory and stock uncertainty

Cell phones are seen on display at the Sprint Nextel cell phone store.

The slowing global economy hit McDonald's in October. The Golden Arches saw worldwide sales fall for the first time since 2003. U.S. jobless claims fell last week, but officials caution against reading too much into the numbers, since the storm could have kept folks from filing in the northeast. And the U.S. trade deficit got smaller in September. U.S. exports held up better than many economists had expected.

President Obama set some interesting milestones with his re-election. No president since the Great Depression has been re-elected with unemployment this high. He's only the second to be awarded a second term with unemployment over 7 percent -- the other was Ronald Reagan.

In his victory speech Tuesday night, Obama mentioned climate change, and that has the energy industry wondering what's on the agenda of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Chinese Communist Party convened its 18th Party Congress today. The event will end with President Hu Jintao handing power to China's next leader. The transition is being closely watched all over the world, in part because of the implications for China's economy.

Another quick China sidebar here: It's never been easy to become a commercial airline pilot -- nor should it be. But in China, Hainan airlines has introduced a new requirement for its recruits: body odor. The Shenzhen News, says Hainan candidates with discernable BO will be dismissed immediately. Photos show pilot recruiters sniffing the armpits of would-be pilots, inspiring me to draft this slogan for them: "Hainan Airlines: Nothing Special in the Air."

Sprint has just announced it is buying the customers of "U.S. Cellular" which is a big provider in the Midwest. The investment will boost Sprint's capacity there. And this week AT&T announced it will invest $14 billion over the next three years to beef up its wireless and broadband services. Seems like good news for wireless customers, but could also be bad news if you're a fan of the old fashioned, landline phone.

Along with the Democratic gains at the national level, the election brought some changes to state legislatures. Democrats took control of both houses in Maine, as well as in Minnesota -- Democrats now control all of state government there for the first time in 20 years. Democrats also took back the Houses in Colorado, New Hampshire, and Oregon, and the Senate in New York.

In California, voters beefed up Democrats to a two-thirds majority -- a supermajority -- in both the Assembly and Senate. That's a situation the state hasn't seen since 1933, and it has some important implications.

And finally, voters of course handed Barack Obama four more years, and tilted Congress a bit more toward the Democrats. Lesser known is that they also elected the first orc. Colleen Lachovicz was running for state senate in Maine. And her opponent decided to make an issue of her online gaming hobby. Specifically: Lachovicz online is a green-skinned, level 85 orc assassin in "World of Warcraft." Suffice it to say, the attack was repelled, and the orc emerged victorious. Critics suspecting sorcery at work might continue to make something of her vote total, though, which I happened to notice was 8,666.

About the author

Jeff Horwich is the interim host of Marketplace Morning Report and a sometime-Marketplace reporter.

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