The low-rent district

By most measurements, Moscow is one of the world's most expensive cities. For example, according to the respected international consulting service Mercer Human Resource, it currently ranks third, behind Tokyo and London. So it should come as no surprise that the Kremlin and the State Department have just negotiated new terms for Spaso House, the US ambassador's residence since 1933, that almost certainly call for more money - although embassy officials won't confirm it. How do we know this? Because at today's exchange rate between the Russian ruble and the US dollar, the luxurious address has been costing the federal government ... $2.50 a year.

Take a bow, Finland. your economy has done it again

For the third time in four years, Finland has been selected as the nation with the most competitive economy by the World Economic Forum, an independent organization based in Geneva. That may surprise people who know only about Nokia because they own one of the Finnish company's cellphones. But, beyond that, Finland is cited for its speed in adapting new technology, its proactive business climate, and for nurturing a culture of innovation. The results of the 2004-2005 Global Competitiveness Report are based on a survey of more than 8,700 business leaders in 104 countries, who assess business environments based on such factors as macroeconomic management, the quality of public institutions that underpin the development process, and the level of technological readiness and innovation. The countries ranked as having the most competitive economies:

1. Finland
2. United States
3. Sweden
4. Taiwan
5. Denmark
6. Norway
7. Singapore
8. Switzerland
9. Japan
10. Iceland
- Associated Press

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