Monday, January 20, 2003

Money&Culture File from
NY Times

In the basement of his Standard Oil Building, just steps from Wall Street, where the Museum of American Financial History celebrates the wonders of capitalism, an exhibit wall is papered with gaily colored stock certificates carrying names like Enron, WorldCom and ImClone Systems. It's the dark side of the American dream. But the dot-com debacles and infamous bankruptcies of the infant millennium are as much part of the nation's financial heritage as scandals of the past and the stock market crash of 1929, says the museum, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution.Exhibits about that Black October Friday that ushered in the Great Depression, and accouterments like the plunging ticker tape record, have long been the biggest draw of this low-profile and literally underground museum, in its 15th year at 28 Broadway, where Rockefeller first moved into a smaller building in 1883, on same the site where Alexander Hamilton's law office once stood.

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Perhaps the keenest measure of impoverishment in Saddam Hussein's Iraq can be taken from the scenes at places like Liberation Square in central Baghdad. ... These days, Liberation Square — like similar sites in all Iraqi cities — has been transformed into a vast flea market. Here, the sellers — of household bric-a-brac, of plumbing fixtures, of postcards and old magazines, of 45- and 78-r.p.m. records, of plastic sandals, of anything with even vestigial monetary value — are not the illiterate underclass so much as the newly destitute middle class.

GALESBURG, Ill. — Throughout the 90's, this prairie town of 34,000 felt blessed because it managed to escape the scourge of factory closings that hit Peoria and Decatur and and other heartland communities. But when Maytag announced this fall that it was closing the area's largest factory, a refrigerator plant with 1,600 employees, the news hit Galesburg like a bomb. Despite this city's gritty optimism, home prices are slipping, shop owners are complaining about flat Christmas sales, and Maytag workers do not know what to tell their children.

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