Sunday, May 23, 1999


Starkist asked to produce tuna-free tuna

        The best way to make tuna dolphin-safe is not to make tuna from tuna. That's the philosophy behind a proposal sent to Starkist Foods in Newport by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

        The animal-rights group has petitioned the canned-tuna company to consider an alternative to its extensive tuna lineup that poses no threat from fishing to dolphins or tuna — veggie tuna.

        PETA says it's possible to produce a delicious, soy-based, tunalike product that could be used in place of the real thing in almost any recipe.

        There's a growing market for such a product, PETA said in a letter to Starkist, pointing out that there are more than 15 million vegetarians in the United States.

        PETA has even come up with a name for the new fish-free tuna — Tuno. — Randy Tucker

Efficiency hard on needy
        Alan Greenspan sings the praises of the rise in productivity among the nation's businesses. They're producing more at less cost, allowing them to pay higher wages without raising prices. A great deal.

        But not for everyone. Take the FreeStore/FoodBank in Over-the-Rhine, which provides food to low-income families.

        “We have lived off the screw-ups of corporate America for a number of years, and they're making less mistakes, and we're the losers,” said Cris Carsman of the FreeStore/FoodBank.

        A bakery might bake its bread a few degrees hotter than is optimal. The bread is fine, but it doesn't meet the company's standards, and so the batch is discarded. The FreeStore/ FoodBank has been able to obtain a lot of food under those conditions.

        But businesses are pushing for greater productivity and are eliminating waste. That means less food is being discarded. “They tell us they've tightened their controls, and they've become more productive, and they don't have as much to give us,” she said.

        The FreeStore/FoodBank now needs to buy more food outright, she said. John Byczkowski

Cinergy makes blah list
        Cincinnati's Cinergy Corp. has the dubious distinction of being in Boston money manager John Dorfman's “Do-Nothing Club.”

        Mr. Dorfman, who writes an investment column for Bloomberg News, looked at 1,180 stocks with a market value of more than $1 billion and found 24 that were within one percentage point of where they were through the 12 months ending May 14 — hence the “Do-Nothing Club.”

        Of course, Cinergy has attributed much of its weak stock performance to the market's uncertainty over the course of deregulation in Ohio. And Mr. Dorfman said a study he once made of the biggest winners and losers over 12 months found that the best performers in the next 12 months were often among the middling performers in the previous 12. — Mike Boyer

Don't bank on Fed's bias
        Can the Federal Reserve keep its word? It depends.

        The Fed last week announced a change in its bias, indicating it was leaning toward raising interest rates given “inflationary imbalances” in the economy.

        Fine. Thanks for the warning. But the brokerage firm Goldman Sachs found the Fed doesn't always do what it says.

        If the Fed indicates it will lower interest rates, it usually does: Since 1983, when the Federal Open Market Committee shifts its sentiment toward lower rates, it has actually done that by its next meeting 60 percent of the time, and rates have fallen within six months of those meetings 77 percent of the time.

        But when the Fed says it is leaning toward raising rates, as it did Tuesday, it makes good on its word only a third of the time by the next FOMC meeting, and about half the time within six months.

        “It is apparent that Fed officials like to use (a shift in bias toward raising rates) to talk down bond prices, but often they do not follow through by actually tightening monetary policy,” said economist Bill Dudley. —John Byczkowski

        Items for Tipsheet are gathered by Enquirer business reporters and compiled by Lisa Biank Fasig of the business staff.


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