It was a brutal August for stocks around the world. U.S. equities posted their worst August since 2001, with declines ranging from 4% to 6% on the major exchanges. The reasons seemed simple enough: confidence in the economic recovery sank this summer as unemployment remained stubbornly high. Few investors and economists believe that the run of strong corporate profits can continue if the U.S. and other rich world economies sputter.
Book review: 'A World Without Islam'
One of the sadder consequences of the near decade of war and violence that has followed the attacks of 9/11 is that so many people are convinced that we are in a clash of civilizations divided along religious fault lines. The concept was popularized by Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington in the mid-1990s, but he didn't invent the idea; he gave it a name. Until 9/11, however, it was both debated and debatable. Since then, it has become a mainstream view in both the Western world and the Muslim world. The recent furor over the proposed Muslim center in Lower Manhattan, the rise of anti-Muslim rhetoric in Europe and the continued attraction of radical antinomian Islam in parts of the Muslim world attest to this situation.
The Two Jobs Reports
At the end of the first week of July, the U.S. Department of Labor released its monthly jobs report. It showed continued weakness in employment and helped trigger a new wave of concern about the health of the U.S. economy. On July 20, a different "jobs" report was released — this one by the CEO of Apple. In his company's second-quarter earnings announcement, Steve Jobs declared that Apple had surpassed expectations and posted record revenue and earnings. In addition to computers, Apple sold more than 8 million iPhones in the spring quarter and more than 3 million of its new iPad tablet devices. What's more, sales of the iPhone were up more than 60% from a year earlier.