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The Blackberry Torch 9800 smartphone is seen after being unveiled at a news conference August 3, 2010 in New York City. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The Blackberry Torch 9800 smartphone is seen after being unveiled at a news conference August 3, 2010 in New York City.

(Mario Tama/Getty Images)

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RIM customer base hits new mark, results cheer investors Add to ...

"On household leverage, we're not so bad - compared to the worst example in the developed world," said economists Derek Holt and Gorica Djeric. :.. We only look good compared to the U.S., and that may well not last. As the U.S. deleverages and brings household debt as a fraction of assets and incomes lower, Canada has popped its leverage ratio three percentage points higher ever since the federal government liberalized the mortgage insurance sector in the spring of 2007. Then it reached a plateau in late 2008 through 2009, and very recently began marching upward again."



U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geither

Geithner criticizes China U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner shot out at China today, criticizing Beijing's pace of currency reform. "We are very concerned about the negative impact of these policies on our economic interests, and are pursuing a carefully designed, targeted approach to address these problems," he said in testimony in Washington.

But Mr. Geithner suggested his government still won't take the leap and slap China with the label of currency manipulator. Though the yuan is undervalued and China is moving toward a more flexible rate is slow, naming China as a manipulator would "not be a particularly effective tool," he said.

The yuan, also known as the renminbi, has appreciated in the past few days, and one has to wonder whether Japan's move will complicate the issue further, given the mounting anger over China. "A spurt of renminbi appreciation in the last few days may not be enough to dampen growing anger in Washington at how slowly the Chinese currency has moved since the de facto peg was loosened in June," said Mark Williams, senior China economist at Capital Economics in London. "Japan's decision to intervene in currency markets may make it harder to place multilateral pressure on China, but will not be a bar to the U.S. Congress acting on its own."



FedEx to cut 1,700 jobs FexEx Corp. today doubled its first-quarter profit and boosted its earnings outlook, but it fell shy of analysts' estimates, putting pressure on its shares, and announced plans to cut 1,700 jobs and close 100 facilities. The giant courier company, considered a bellwether of the economy, earned $380-million (U.S.) or $1.20 a share in the quarter ended Aug. 31, compared to $181-million or 58 cents a year earlier. It also forecast earnings per share for the quarter ending in November of $1.15 to $1.35, short of the $1.36 expected, according to estimates from Thomson Reuters. Chief Financial Offricer Alan Graf Jr. said the courier expects to see strong demand at least through December.



Microsoft scores with latest in Halo series The new Halo: Reach videogame from Microsoft Corp. is off to a strong start. The software giant said today the latest in the popular Halo series posted sales of $200-million (U.S.) on its launch. That sets the stage heading into the Christmas shopping season for Microsoft's new gaming system.



University blocks social media for week There are college abstinence movements, and then there are abstinence movements of a different kind. A small university in Pennsylvania has, for one week, blocked IP addresses and access to Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and instant messaging. The goal of the Harrisburg University of Science and Technology is to force its faculty and students to think about social media when there's no access.

"Our goal is to challenge people to think about how they came to rely on it," the university said on its website, announcing this week's move. "We too have used lots of social media, some successfully, some of it not so successfully. University faculty, in particular, use social media to communicate with colleagues about curriculum ideas, but what if they had to rely on face-to-face meetings? We wondered would the process take longer, or would the outcomes be any different."

Backed up by a Social Media Summit and panel discussions, the university said it "hopes to move the conversation about social media to a more strategic level. Many organizations use ads on social media sites, for example, but do not recognize how social media can be used for training and education, business innovation, and political advocacy.



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