Ups and downs Featured

5:33am EDT July 19, 2002

(Ups) to the Fed. A surprise New Year's gift of a one-half percent cut in the interest rate put a charge into an otherwise sluggish economy. Whether this is the beginning of a trend to stave off a recession or simply a bright spot on a slowly sinking ship will be played out over the next few months.

(Downs) to LTV Steel. Sure, cheap foreign steel added to the giant steelmaker's woes, but the company's management should bear much of the blame. Buying two tube-makers and increasing debt levels in 1999 certainly didn't help a firm that not only hadn't seen a profit since 1997 but also watched steel imports rise 33 percent in 1998. Workers should be upset with company brass and concerned about their jobs.

(Ups) to Hawk Corp. Leaders at this friction materials manufacturer understand the importance of patience when dealing with foreign markets. The company hired a senior management team in China more than a year ago to help get Chinese operations off the ground. Production began at the new Chinese plant on Jan. 2, 2001.

(Downs) to DaimlerChrysler AG. The automotive giant plans to end production of the Jeep Cherokee sport utility vehicle later this year and replace it with a new Jeep Liberty. While DaimlerChrysler is looking to spark declining sales of the Cherokee -- down 14 percent in 2000 from 1999 -- which is a smart business move, there's one simple reason to take issue with the decision. It's the vehicle I drive, and I like it.

(Ups) to Cleveland-Cliffs. The 153-year-old iron mining company proved you can teach an old dog new tricks by enlisting technology to slash the number of its vendors from 200 to 32. Along the way, it realized a savings of more than $45 million and plans to trim its purchasing costs by 20 percent within two years.