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Marketplace Scratch Pad

Top o’ the mornin’

Paddy Hirsch Aug 6, 2009

Looks like a slack day for the US, markets-wise, although Hong Kong’s Hang Seng and the Nikkei both ended up, and European markets are also looking better today. Oil is down, but so are sales reports from US retailers. The jobs news is good – or better than expected, at least: the number of Americans filing claims for jobless benefits fell 38,000 to 550,000 last week.

Beep beep
Looks like the Senate has come through on cash for clunkers. The AP quotes Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid saying Democrats and Republicans agreed to vote on the plan today, along with a series of potential changes to the bill.

If you go to the doctor’s office feeling like death, but the doc’s quickie test tells you it’s not the swine flu, get a second opinion. Quick tests for swine may fail more than half the time, a report in the Journal of Clinical Virology says.

Service charge
When it comes to tracking the recession, some countries want to know about every economic transaction made. That’s EVERY transaction, gentlemen! Bloomberg has a story about the Bank of Japan counting brothels in Hokkaido to help determine demand for “services”, which appear to be one of the bight lights of the local economy. The number of sex parlors in the Susukino red-light district in Sapporo, Hokkaido’s capital, more than quadrupled over the past 20 years.

Hit the road, Joe
The Wall Street Journal reports that some coffee shops are restricting laptop use. This feels like a pretty thin story – examples are confined to a handful of independent cafes in New York. The story says the trend is “accelerating” amongst independents, as writers hog up tables, drain power, and prevent turnover. One cafe, Cafe Grumpy, has never allowed laptops, but bookstores like Borders and B&N don’t seem set to fallow this “trend.” As one customer put it,

Good luck staying open when you’re turning half your clientele out on a Friday night.

Or at 6 am on a Thursday morning (I’ll take another double espresso, please).

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