First Monday: What's coming up in February

CALENDAR

Feb. 6 The Labor Department's monthly employment report is out, telling how bad January's job cuts were.

Feb. 12 The government's retail sales report will signal how much consumers are cutting back this year.

Feb. 16 Presidents Day. The deadline set by President Obama for Congress to pass his economic stimulus package.

Feb. 17 Chrysler reveals to the U.S. Treasury how it can be viable, to get $3 billion more in taxpayer money. Final review is March 31.

Feb. 19 President Obama visits Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. "Buy American" provisions in the stimulus package may make the president's first trip abroad less cordial.

Feb. 20 The consumer price index comes out, and economists will comb it for signs of deflation.

CHECK IT OUT

'Black Enterprise' Top 100

Managing a large business through the USA's worst recession in decades will surely test business leaders. Black Enterprise spotlights some in its "100 Most Powerful Executives in Corporate America" report in the February issue. Among the 22 black women in BE's 100 is Adriane Brown, CEO of Honeywell Transportation Systems, who believes the true test of leadership comes when market conditions are changing rapidly. "One of my greatest pleasures is seeing a customer recognize our team for accomplishing something that was once thought to be near impossible," she tells BE.

Euphoria's bad end

Bubbles bursting everywhere is the theme of a five-piece article in the January-February edition of Foreign Policy magazine. Five economists whose "prophetic warnings went unheeded" paint a gloomy picture of what's ahead for the global economy. Cascading traumas that started with the subprime mortgage crisis have extended beyond housing to encompass credit cards, auto loans and student loans, writes Columbia University's Nouriel Roubini in the lead article. Taken together, Roubini says, bursting bubbles have amounted to the biggest asset and credit bubble in human history.

'Seniority matters' this time

Older staffers are being spared so far in this recession, despite their higher salaries and medical costs. Unlike some previous downturns, younger workers are taking the hit. BusinessWeek reports in its Feb. 9 edition that many companies are picking and choosing who to cut so they don't lose experienced hands to voluntary buyouts. In fact, it says, the number of people age 55 and older with jobs rose nearly 900,000 from the start of the recession in December 2007 through last year. "Seniority matters," says Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes, who runs Boston College's Sloan Center on Aging & Work. That's a big change from the last serious recession, in 1990-91, when older workers, especially in manufacturing, were hit hard.

A tall seawater — no salt

With freshwater supplies shrinking, desalinating seawater could some day be a big business. The USA's desal industry has long been constrained by high costs, but technological advances "have recently brought it to a competitive brink," writes Jeff Hull in the February issue of Fast Company. The world market is now about $11 billion and is expected to hit $126 billion by 2015.

WATCH, LISTEN & READ

At the movies:The InternationalFeb. 13. Rated R. Columbia Pictures

As if the financial industry didn't have enough bad buzz, along comes a rousing and riveting thriller starring Clive Owen as an Interpol agent hell-bent on exposing the nefarious deeds of a corrupt international bank based in Luxembourg.

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