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Best Business Commentary
October 23, 2007
The 4-1-1 on directory assistance
Before you dial 411 on your cellphone, “think for a minute about what it will cost you,” says Jessica Dickler in CNNMoney.com. Calling directory assistance costs about $2 a pop, which can add up to “a lot of money for just a little information.” But you can “scale down your surcharges” by seeking deals with your carrier or by using a free service. Jingle Networks offers a free, ad-supported service at 1-800-FREE-411, and Google has its free 1-800-GOOG-411, but both rely on automated operators. For free and human, pay phones are “still the best 411 deal around” with the venerable 555-1212. “Just pack some Purell.”
An oil bubble?
Oil prices have “run up too far too fast,” says Irwin Kellner in MarketWatch, and yesterday’s decline “could be the start of something big.” First of all, there is neither a “shortage of oil in the markets” nor of the “capacity to refine it.” And “unless the temperature takes a sudden dive” in the Northeast, “the price of oil will” for sure. But it’s bigger than that. OPEC’s 35 years of price increases has led to new sources of oil, and now OPEC’s share of U.S. imports is “little more than 40 percent,” from 70 percent in 1972. Add to that “alternate fuels,” our move to a service economy, and greater conservation, and you get “bad news for oil.”
of The Week magazine.