Gambling With the Future

Corporations in the U.K. have become grimly familiar with watching stock markets go down, then down some more. London's FTSE 100 index has fallen about 48% from its all-time high at the end of 1999 — and about 9% just in the first month of 2003. Obviously, the most painful dip for any company is one in its own share price. But when market bears roam as widely and fiercely as they have for nearly three years, they can harm even firms whose own shares are doing well.

Why? Because in the U.K. almost half the work...

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