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Global Briefing: Aug. 13, 2001

3 minute read
Desa Philadelphia

Dead Musicians Society

Recording artists sardonically observe that in their business, nothing succeeds like death. For better or worse, a musician’s demise often means more sales. Record companies are hoping that trend holds for three giants who have died in the past six weeks. Music Club has released John Lee Hooker…Is Hip: His Greatest Hits by the legendary Mississippi blues guitarist. Country guitar god Chet Atkins’ new release, A Master and His Music, is on the BMG/RCA label. No postmortem releases by trumpeter and Latin-jazz innovator Chico O’Farrill have been announced, but his greatest stuff is on Cuban Blues: Chico O’Farrill Sessions, a 1996 two-disc release from Universal/Verve.

The Big Fridge Goes European

Americans who visit Europe often envy the neighborhood shops. And what do Europeans covet in return? Big refrigerators. They want them because they’re working longer hours and don’t have time for daily shopping, and they can afford them because they’re earning more. European sales of American-size refrigerators are growing 10% a year. And many are sold by U.S. firms. Says General Electric spokesman Terry Dunn: “Americans take big fridges for granted, but in Europe it’s like owning a BMW or a Jag.” Market research led GE to pitch its offerings to local tastes: stainless-steel finishes for the British and Dutch, warm colors for the Italians, artsy images for the French and Spanish.

MORE CEOS ARE CHECKING OUT

CEOs get the big bucks when times are flush, but in today’s sluggish economy and stock market, more and more of them are out of a job. During the first six months of this year, 555 chief executives left or lost their job, according to a survey by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, the job-placement firm. That’s a 22% increase over the departure rate during the first half of 2000. “There is so much scrutiny now that it is very hard to hide mistakes,” says John Challenger, chief executive of CGC. When a company’s stock drops for several quarters, “the CEO is going to walk the plank.” Tech executives led the exodus for 11 months through May, but they have since been joined by CEOs from a diverse group of companies, including Maytag and Advantage Schools.

California Caviar?

Overfishing has depleted stocks of sturgeon in the northern Caspian Sea, and in response, Russia and several of its neighbors recently restricted their harvests of the caviar-bearing fish. That could offer an opportunity for U.S. producers of caviar from pen-raised sturgeon, led by the pioneering Stolt Sea Farm of Elverta, Calif. But do the texture and taste measure up? We asked the executive chefs of two of New York City’s top seafood restaurants–Rick Moonen of Oceana, pictured, and Marcus Samuelsson of Aquavit–to sample unmarked servings of Russian Osetra caviar and Sterling Classic brand, produced by Stolt Sea Farm. Neither could tell the difference. “The quality of the farm-raised caviar has increased,” says Moonen. “They can rival some caviars coming from the Caspian.” And the domestic eggs are a bargain at $30 per oz., vs. between $50 and $60 for the Osetra.

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