During my three-mile walk yesterday I was stopped by Leslie Engel, a young Pikesville woman who said, "I loved something you once wrote in a Thanksgiving column and wish you'd repeat it this week." She added, "You wrote, 'Home is where someone is waiting for you,' and every time I visit my parents we talk about that." I'm happy to oblige and appreciate the kind sentiments about Ticker that she expressed.
GIVING THANKS: Although the economy is ailing, here are a few things people may give thanks for this week: Lowest mortgage rates in 14 years, new-car loan rates dropping, relatively high (6.3 percent) interest rates on Series EE savings bonds (free of state and local taxes), good performance this year for most stocks, mutual funds and retirement funds, proliferation of helpful financial columns and radio talk shows, widening information about retirement investing, etc.
CAREER AILING? "Quick Cures for an Ailing Career" in Working Woman, November, is worth reading. Excerpts: "Every job has a half-life. In a period as short as a year or as long as 20, an employee's effectiveness diminishes. . . . Symptoms of that affliction are boredom, sense of worthlessness. . . . Executives at the later stages of boredom should bail out fast. . . . Those who haven't gotten there should look for work (either within or discreetly outside the company) while their jobs are still going well. . . . Managers should show powers-that-be that they're on their side, differentiating from peers when possible."
BALTIMORE BEAT: Referring to USF&G CEO Norman Blake, Business Week, dated today, says, "Blake had managers walking the plank at Chicago's Heller Financial, which was then primarily a secured lender to corporations. Soon after arriving in 1984 he sacked most of its top management. His new team shifted Heller's lending away from corporate customers, where it often competed against more powerful banks, and got into leveraged buyouts. Result: Heller moved from a 1984 loss of $182 million to a profit of $102 million in 1989."
MARYLAND MEMOS: The locally-produced coast-to-coast TV program "Wall Street Week with Louis Rukeyser" marked its 21st birthday Friday. (Invited in 1970 to be one of the show's original panelists, I declined, fearing the program would be just another occasional local financial outing, only to scramble back on board when the show became an instant success six months later.) . . . Nutech Laundry and Textiles, Hyattsville, is written up as No. 457 in INC magazine's "500 Fastest Growing Companies," December issue. ("CEO Jack Robinson says his firm has taken the guesswork out of the laundering process.")
BALTIMORE & BEYOND: Legg Mason CEO Raymond A. "Chip" Mason is written up in Warfield's, Nov. 20. ("Pick your markets carefully, be a contrarian, don't overload your company with expensive non-revenue producing personnel, bring new perspectives to your board every few years.") . . . Our Daily Bread soup kitchen's Thanksgiving wish list includes oatmeal (lots of it!), kidney beans, fruit juice, lots of sugar, tea bags, cash. Phone 539-2744 for delivery details. . . . "Be more popular at work by helping colleagues. Popularity pays off; people root for colleagues they like." (Robert Half International) . . . "Children who live with smokers are twice as likely to be in poor-to-fair health as children who live in non-smoking households." (National Center for Health Statistics).