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Leading Economic Indicators

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Contrary Thinking: Three U.S. finance professors, working with business data provided to the government of Denmark, concluded that a company's profitability usually falls following a death in the CEO's immediate family. However, the professors found (according to a September Wall Street Journal report), that profitability slightly increased if the family death was that of the CEO's mother-in-law.

The Tata Group, a Mumbai, India, company that handles customer-service calls for several U.S. firms, has outsourced some of its work to a firm in Ohio (according to an August Fortune magazine report), on behalf of a client that insists on operators knowledgeable about American geography.

The makers of Veet Hair Removal Cream sponsored a survey this year for people to vote on which celebrity female has the sexiest walk and, to lend the promotion some respectability, hired Cambridge University professor Richard Weber to explain a strut's sexiness via measurable physical characteristics. Weber eventually quit the project, according to a September report in London's Guardian, in part because Veet named Jessica Alba No. 1 when the results he saw showed Angelina Jolie the winner. Weber used such calculations as waist-to-hip and thigh-to-calf ratios to explain Jolie's apparent success: Jolie's "slightly larger waist may give her the torso strength with which to produce a better angular swing and bounce to the hips than (smaller) stars such as Eva Longoria (and Alba)."

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