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George Bailey's myth

The generous hero banker of It's a Wonderful Life would never understand credit unions, the modern-day cousins of the Bailey Building & Loan. Instead of lending most of their deposit dollars to members, they have slowly begun to learn the fine art of investing the money instead.

Callahan's Credit Union Report, a trade publication, says that from 1970 to 1976 credit unions put less than 10 percent of their share deposits in investments. By 1992, the figure had risen to nearly half.

Cheating on air fares

More businesses use deceit to get the best deals on air fares. A survey of 200 companies by Corporate Travel magazine shows nearly half think it's okay to use low-cost "meetings fares" offered by airlines for business travel even if there's really no meetings. Nearly half the respondents feel travel agencies should "do whatever it takes" to get them the lowest fares.

Corporate Travel attributed the practices to travel cutbacks among travel agent clients, spotty enforcement of ticketing rules and a lack of ethics.

Club Vietnam?

Are Americans ready for Vietnam as a mainstream tourist attraction? Probably not, says Travel Weekly, a trade newspaper.

Once an exotic destination for Europeans before the fighting began, Vietnam is impoverished, lacking in amenities from hotels to rental cars. But as the country opens up it is attracting a growing number of tourists, with bookings going strong into 1994, Travel Weekly reports. But few of those travelers are Americans, particularly war veterans, who "simply have not materialized in any numbers."

Take that, Fido

A super self-defense spray used by mail deliverers to repel dogs is now peddled as the answer to violent crime. Lund-Tech Marketing, a Cape May, N.J., company that sells the "Defiance" protection aerosol, says one burst of the non-mace chemical fired from 8 feet completely disables an attacker for 15 minutes.

A Vanguard truce

The Vanguard group of mutual funds and the small Vanguard Adviser newsletter have declared a truce. The big Vanguard, which has 4-million shareholders, sued the little one, which has 20,000 subscribers, to stop it from using the Vanguard name.

The newsletter will now call itself the Independent Adviser for Vanguard Investors and will carry a disclaimer that it is not affiliated with the Vanguard funds. The funds said they were concerned about customer confusion.

The Vanguard group also has agreed to restore the newsletter's access to information. The Adviser had been getting the silent treatment since publishing Vanguard chairman Jack Bogle's 1991 compensation ($2.6-million plus bonuses) and critical reviews of some Vanguard products.

The newsletter is published by the Fund Family Shareholder Association in Boston, (800) 933-0304.

Kids, call home

Maybe it's just more kids calling home for money, but long distance traffic volume jumped 7 percent during the first quarter, says a report from Fitch Investors Service Inc. AT&T, MCI and Spring all had strong gains in call volume, sales and profits in spite of the lackluster economy.

_ Compiled from reports by the AP and staff writer Helen Huntley.

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