WE'RE STILL NO. 1, BUT WITH SIGNS OF WEAKNESS: The United States topped world competitiveness rankings for the 15th straight year, but its economy is showing the same signs of weakness that sank booming Japan in the early 1990s, according to an annual survey released Thursday. Asian tigers Singapore and Hong Kong ranked just behind the United States, as they did last year. Switzerland jumped two places to fourth, while Luxembourg rounded out the top five most competitive national economies, said the Lausanne, Switzerland-based IMD business school, publisher of the World Competitiveness Yearbook. The study lists 55 economies according to 331 criteria that measure how the nations create and maintain conditions favorable to businesses. The U.S. position was cemented by its domestic economy, which is the world's strongest, topping all others in its amount of investments, stock purchases and commercial service exports. The United States also ranks as the easiest place to secure venture capital for business development and dominates all other economies in key technology criteria such as computers in use, according to the report.
FORD ANNOUNCES PICKUP RECALL: Ford Motor Co. is recalling more than 655,000 Ford F-150 and Lincoln Mark LT pickup trucks to fix a hose that could affect the vehicles' braking power. The automaker is issuing the recall of 2005-06 versions of the trucks with 5.4 liter 3-valve engines. That's according to a posting Wednesday on the Web site of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Dealers will replace the hose at no charge to consumers. Owners are expected to be notified in late June, and the recall is expected to begin in July. For more information, owners can contact Ford at 800-392-3673 or go to www.ford.com.
TOY SELLERS ESTABLISH NEW CONTENT STANDARDS: The nation's biggest toy sellers are requiring their suppliers to meet new standards that limit the amount of lead and other metals and compounds in toys and children's products, getting ahead of federal legislation. The House and Senate have passed versions of a wide- ranging bill to overhaul the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The bill contains language that would toughen current standards for products used by children. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. spokeswoman Melissa O'Brien said Wednesday that the nation's largest retailer crafted its requirements so that they meet or exceed standards in the working legislation. The bill has not yet moved to a conference committee, where the House and Senate would work out differences between versions of the bill. Wal-Mart, the top toy seller in the United States, said products meeting the new standards will be on the shelves for the holiday shopping season. Wayne, N.J.-based Toys "R" Us Inc. also imposed tougher standards for its manufacturers for orders placed around the start of the year. A spokeswoman for Target Corp., the nation's No. 2 discounter, said the company distributed new specs for its toy brands in April and that after Jan. 1, only items meeting updated standards will be on shelves.
MAN CHARGED WITH DEFRAUDING HOMEOWNERS: A Madera County man faces more than 200 charges of defrauding California homeowners with an elaborate scheme to take advantage of their credit card debt. Jeff Allan McCoon of Oakhurst faces111 felony charges in Sacramento County accusing him of defrauding about 50 homeowners since 2005. He also is set for a July hearing on 132 felony counts in Orange County. Sacramento County prosecutors say McCoon used his Palm Springs- based Pacific States Credit Co. to find property owners with credit card debt. They say McCoon falsified documents and filed liens against their properties. He then allegedly demanded that property owners pay him to remove the liens before they could sell or refinance their homes. McCoon, 42, is in Sacramento County Jail on charges of filing false liens, attempted extortion and grand theft. He did not enter a plea during a court appearance Monday.
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1, 2: Ranks of manager (20 percent) and educator (11 percent) as the two most prevalent careers among the $1 million to $5 million group of millionaires, according to a report by Spectrem Group.
1, 2: Ranks of entrepreneur/ business owner (30 percent) and senior corporate executive (17 percent) as the most prevalent careers in the $25 million and higher category.
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