Guilty of Economic Chaos

Evidence that California--one way or another--finds a way to remain an albatross around the neck of the national economy comes courtesy of the economists at Minneapolis regional bank Norwest Corp.

In a "Financial Market Strategies" newsletter published on Friday, economists at the bank include a section titled "Economy: O.J. Simpson Trial and Its Effects."

According to the newsletter: "Too many people are watching the O.J. Simpson trial and not shopping. This is similar to the 'CNN effect' during the Gulf War in 1990."

To its credit, the bank economists don't blame Simpson exclusively.

"The rain in Calfornia hasn't helped retailers either. The Wall Street layoffs, Orange County bankruptcy and the Mexican fiasco are also contributing to an economic slowdown."

Get Your Kicks Buying Them

Route 66 may no longer run officially from Chicago to L.A., but you can still spend a fair amount of money on it.

A cottage industry has grown up around the nostalgia movement surrounding the famed highway.

For starters, there is a Route 66 magazine published out of Laughlin, Nev. (the magazine's post office box is even 66).

In Winslow, Ariz., a company called "Roadworks" sells for $20 pairs of Route 66 earrings made to look like the road signs for the highway, as well as Route 66 pendants for $13 also made to look like the signs. The company sells a commemorative Route 66 silver belt buckle for $110.

In Edmond, Okla., a company sells Route 66 commemorative purses.

Then there is a 53-minute video commemorating how the Burma Vita Co. made the famous Burma Shave ads that used to dot the sides of the highway.

Maybe He Needs an 800 Line

Jerry Brown, employing the same kind of marketing logic that makes $29.95 seem like a lot less than $30, has cut the price of the San Francisco home that he has been unable to unload.

Last fall, the former governor put his home--a converted firehouse in San Francisco's Pacific Heights section--on the market for $1.4 million.

Unable to get that much, Brown cut his asking price to $1.2 million last December.

Now he's cut it again--by $5,000--according to San Francisco real estate agents.

The new price: $1,195,000.

Briefly. . .

A Florida company is selling for $299 a "pure 24-karat gold plated" reproduction of a 400-ounce gold bar stored at Fort Knox. . . . Circle of Cash: At Walt Disney's annual meeting in Florida last week, Vice Chairman Roy E. Disney said "The Lion King" would be the most profitable movie of all time, with about $800 million in profit from its box office, video sales, merchandising and other sources. . . . You figure it out: The Future News Index, a quirky forecasting newsletter published out of Santa Monica, on the new all-time high set by the Dow industrials: "New all-time highs. A correction. Then what? Watch out for the period from Friday the 3rd through the 6-7th."

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