Archive for the 'business' Category

Jon Stewart goes “mad” on Jim Cramer?

For those who missed The Daily Show last night it was awesome… Jon Stewart took it to Jim Cramer and CNBC on the lack of “financial reporting” on their supposed “financial news” cable network.  Not to be a spoiler… but there are some great video clips of Cramer off air.  Take 20 minutes of your day and watch this episode!

Jan. 22, 1984: Dawn of the Mac

Wow – has it really been 25 years?  Apple’s famous Super Bowl ad aired 25 years ago today.  Created by Chiat/Day, the ad showed a woman running through gray hallways with sickly gray people invoking George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, to throw a sledgehammer at a TV image of Big Brother, meant, in this case, to represent IBM. It ends with the promise, “On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like 1984.”

Interestingly, Apple recently announced gains in market share beating analysts estimates and its stock is up 8% (in spite of Steve Jobs failing health).  Meanwhile, Microsoft missed earnings and, for the first time, announced that it’s laying off 5,000 people.  Its stock is down 12%.

Stock Market Returns Since 1825

Came across this great graphic in the Economist (with data from Value Square):

The total return of the S&P 500 index fell by nearly 40% in 2008, the second-worst performance by America’s stockmarket since 1825, according to calculations by Value Square, a Belgian asset-management firm. Comparisons to the Depression are clear: only in 1931 and 1937 were there similarly abysmal losses. The firm looked at various predecessors of the S&P 500 from 1923 onwards, and for earlier years took data from a working paper by Yale Management School on the returns of companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Since 1825, 129 years saw rising returns, whereas 55 suffered falls—four of them in this century.


Wishing on a Tsar

Fight Club’s upcoming bout is on “Time for a Model Change” by Graeme Maxton and John Wormald, two car industry veterans and writers for the Economist.  So, I thought it was fitting that this morning’s Business View in the Economist was an entertaining review of current status of Detroit bail out.

gremlinThe automakers are arguing that unlike the airlines, bankruptcy would be devastating for two reasons: 1) airline tickets are short term commitments 2) the car industry has a long supply chain with 3 million workers.  And, as Jon Stewart deftly pointed out with a Hot Wheels version of the AMC Gremlin he drove in high school, that unlike the Financial Services bail out, at least the automakers produce something useful (even though they lose $2K/car they sell).

So, all this has led to the need for a Car Tsar.  The Economist (link above) gives us a little background on the various Tsars [or Czar (derived from Caesar) originally meaning Emperor in the European medieval sense] we’ve had since 1982:


The first such tsar is believed to have been America’s Drug Tsar, first described thus in 1982, who had a mandate to oversee America’s war on drugs, which included activities by several government departments. Since then, the term has been used on many occasions to describe officials with grand cross-departmental responsibilities. Even the Bush administration has had a war tsar, a bird flu tsar, and a bank bailout tsar, while Al Gore reportedly declined Mr Obama’s offer to make him the climate tsar.

The word “tsar” is used because its sounds powerful, though government tsars often find the opposite is true in practice. For one thing, they tend to be appointed during a crisis, and are often invested with unrealistic expectations. Also, having responsibility for activities in several government departments often turns out to mean no power over any of them.

Still, if there is car tsar he will have a huge advantage over other tsars: namely the threat of handing the whole mess over to someone with real power—a Chapter 11 bankruptcy judge, and nobody wants to face the sayonara tsar.

GOP Lobbyist Jack Abramoff Sentenced to 4 More Years – I’m betting on a pardon!

A federal judge on Thursday sentenced former GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff to four years in prison for his role in trading expensive gifts, meals and sports trips in exchange for political favors.  Abramoff will serve this sentence concurrently with his current jail sentence of defrauding of American Indian tribes and corruption of public officials.  After college Abramoff ran for College Republican National Chairman where he was quoted as saying “It is not our job to seek peaceful coexistence with the Left, our job is to remove them from power permanently.”  If you would like a refresher on all of the details make sure to check out the section… Overview_of_criminal_and_political_investigations.

Anyone want to place a bet on whether George Bush will pardon Abramoff before he leaves office in January?

With the Eyes of an Immigrant


In the December 24th issue of Newsweek, Fareed Zakaria writes an interesting essay on the power of personality in presidential politics.  While the Republicans are competing for who is most anti-immigrant, Zakaria points out that Barack Obama is able to see America with the eyes of an immigrant. 

Born to a Kenyan father, growing up with an Indonesian step-father, then living in the “multi-cultural swirl of Hawaii,” Obama has a different perspective.  Zakaria points to examples in corporate America, where Vikram Pandit heads Citigroup, Indra Nooyi heads Pepsi; in order to run a global company, you have to have a global perspective.  Why wouldn’t you want that perspective from a person running the world’s only super-power?

Getting Paid is the Name of the Game

Check out this “Not the Daily Show with Some Writer” for a perspective on the writer’s strike:


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