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Leading Economic Indicators

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People With Too Much Money: A young, media-shy Chinese woman, identified only as "Mrs. Wang" and photographed in jeans, a T-shirt and baseball cap, purchased an 18-month-old Tibetan mastiff in September for a reported 4 million yuan (about $585,000). She ordered a motorcade of 30 luxury cars to meet her and the dog on their arrival in Xi'an, in Shaanxi province. The price is almost four times the previous reported high for the purchase of a dog (a cloned Labrador, by a Florida family).

Circular Reasoning: Surprisingly, the recession otherwise felt in the Phoenix area this year has largely spared one "profession": psychics. An October Arizona Republic report found that while longtime clients tended to reduce their use of astrology and related fields, their business was replaced by a new class of customers desperate to know the future -- those facing financial ruin because of bad home mortgages. (Few, wrote the reporter, seemed to sense the irony of purchasing questionable psychic services to overcome the consequences of questionable mortgage decisions.)

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