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Leading Economic Indicators



Unlike their American counterparts, debt collectors in Spain are legally allowed to humiliate deadbeats in front of relatives and neighbors, and are thus quite successful, according to an October Wall Street Journal dispatch from Madrid. One collector's employees make flamboyant house calls in "top hat and tails" and another's are dressed as Franciscan friars, and yet another collector sends bagpipe players to announce the debt to the entire neighborhood. One debtor hurriedly paid off his daughter's wedding tab when the collector found the ceremony's guest list and began billing each attendee for his or her "share" of the debt.

Though laid-off workers in the U.S. do much grumbling about their high-flying CEOs, some dispatched employees in India are apparently more hardcore. Two CEOs of international firms' Indian subsidiaries in the city of Noida were beaten up (one fatally) in separate incidents shortly after announcing mass layoffs in September. Sixty-three people were charged with the murder, but no suspects have been arrested in the other incident.

Leading Middle East Economic Indicators: At Ada Barak's spa in northern Israel, patrons (for a fee of around $80) can relax for a session in which snakes, large and small, crawl over their bodies, massaging and even nibbling. It's "something deep and peaceful," wrote a Time magazine reporter in October.

U.S.-educated Palestinian Nadim Khoury is introducing Taybeh (Arabic for "delicious") lager from a microbrewery in the West Bank, according to an October Agence France-Presse dispatch, and so far has encountered little resistance from the 98 percent Muslim population. "(E)veryone drinks beer," he said.

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