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Leading Economic Indicators



Some dermatologists have created significant divides between their "medical" patients (acne, cancer) and their beauty-treatment patients (plastic surgery, Botox), with the latter offered luxurious waiting rooms, frequent telephone contacts and more personalization of treatment. One doctor told The New York Times in July, "You have to class it up for those patients," who pay their own way and with minimal paperwork. Besides, said another, "If you do an extreme makeover on someone, you are a hero."

In a July Newsweek review of "faith-based" mutual funds (whose managers invest only in companies whose work does not offend their particular spiritual values), big short-term losers included one Mennonite fund emphasizing pacifism (eschewing high-performing military and energy stocks), but big winners lately were Islamic funds. Not only do they screen out the "sin" companies (tobacco, alcohol) and sellers of pork products, but they avoid financial-services stock (based on the Quran's prohibition against borrowing or lending if interest is charged) and thus were unscathed by the initial mortgage-market meltdown.

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