The Big Picture
By Maryann Thompson

(Business 2.0) – FINANCE

VCs Bet on Biotech

Venture capitalists invested less than a fifth as much money last year as they did in 2000, but biotech is their new darling. The life sciences captured 27 percent of last year's $18.2 billion outlay, compared with just 6 percent of the $105.9 billion advanced three years earlier.

Venture Capital Funding by Industry

2000 2003

$105.9 $18.2 (in billions)

Biotechnology 4% 19% Software 20% 20% Telecommunications 17% 11% Medical devices & equipment 2% 8% Networking & equipment 10% 8% Others[*] 47% 34%

[*] Includes IT services, media, energy, and eight other sectors. Source: PricewaterhouseCoopers/Thomson Venture Economics/National Venture Capital Association Money Tree Survey

LABOR

Benefits' Bigger Bite

Employers held wage costs to a modest increase of less than 3 percent last year. The same can't be said for benefit expenses, which jumped more than 6.5 percent. Most of the increase came from soaring health-care and workers' comp fees.

Note: Data not seasonally adjusted. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

CYBERCRIME

The Online Underworld

According to the Federal Trade Commission, 55 percent of all fraud complaints filed with the agency last year were Internet-related, up from 45 percent in 2002. Of these, online auctions accounted for almost half. All told, U.S. consumers lost $200 million last year as a result of Internet fraud.

Most Common Internet-Related Fraud Complaints

Internet auctions 48% Shop-at-home & catalog sales 20% Internet access services 8% Internet information & adult services 6% Foreign money offers 4% Computer equipment & software 2% Business opportunities 2%

Source: Federal Trade Commission

GLOBALIZATION

A Balanced View of China's Trade

Imports from the People's Republic accounted for 23 percent of America's $470 billion global trade deficit last year. From the other side of the Pacific, however, China looks less like an exporting monster. The nation maintains only a modest overall surplus and actually increased imports by 40 percent last year.

2003 (in billions)

U.S. Exports to China $25 U.S. Imports From China $139

China's Total Exports $438 China's Total Imports $413

Note: Through November. Sources: U.S. Department of Commerce; PRC Ministry of Commerce