GDP Shrinks by 3.8% in Q4

Friday, January 30, 2009

From CNBC:

The economy shrank at a 3.8 percent pace at the end of 2008, the worst showing in a quarter-century, as the deepening recession forced consumers and businesses to throttle back spending.

But, as Clusterstock points out, the drop in real final sales was greater at 4.9%.

The country made up the difference by stuffing unwanted goods onto store shelves

No surprise, but still not pleasant to see. What do you think about Q1? I’m going with 6% drop in GDP. Who wants to go lower?


Bank of America Defers 2008 Bonuses

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


It’s an effort by their CEO, Ken Lewis, to save his job, but it’s still a great move. The bankers there are, apparently, furious, especially in light of the Merrill Lynch bonuses paid out under the cover of night before BoA overpaid for Merrill.

From the Financial Times:

“This is going to cause an uproar,” says one BofA executive familiar with the matter. “There will be cash-flow issues for families.”


Oh, the bankers are furious. The money gained by destroying the economy and their business is all tied up in yachts and summer homes. Oh, the bankers. Quick, run and hide. The bankers are angry.

I have an idea. Why don’t the bankers quit? BoA is obviously not paying to retain top talent. So, top talent, go elsewhere.

Finally, someone, somewhere is being punished. I expect a lot more of this in the future. Prison, financial ruin, regular take-home pay. I hope these bankers have to send their kids to – horror – public school.

There is No Shame is Self-Publishing

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A little article today in the New York Times about the still growing business of self-publishing.

It has become increasingly common and is, like online dating, no longer something to be ashamed of. The traditional publishing industry is crumbling in large measure for the same reason that newspapers continue to do so. They are victims of the democratization of media.

You are now the gatekeeper. Writers should utilize all the tools at their disposal to reach their audience without the stifling interference and failing business model of big publishing.

In a tangentially related editorial, David Swensen and Michale Schmidt, write about newspapers seeking endowments and not-for-profit status to survive. A brilliant idea this commentator has been suggesting for a couple of years.

Cuomo Targets Merrill Lynch Bonuses

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has subpoenaed John Thain and Bank of America CAO, J. Steele Alphin.

Get ’em Andrew! Vote Cuomo forever!


Friday, January 23, 2009

Everything I read in the paper this morning is infuriating to me.

David Brooks writes of the pork laden stimulus bill coming out the House. I need to read more about it, but it seems like a disgraceful piece of Congressional crap. Obama must veto and veto again until they get it right.

Also on the op-ed page, Robert Zoellick wants more money for developing countries. Why? So it can be pissed away into the Swiss bank account of the son of some tyrant? So he can drive a Mercedes and wear a gold watch? How many years has the world been pouring money into Africa, for instance? Where is the real, lasting improvement?

Then, inside, I read about a youth detention center that guards essentially ran as a criminal racket. A boy died and now his mother is suing the city for $20 million. That’s my money. I don’t want this woman (and her ambulance chaser) to get rich because of these jackasses.

Further in, a woman named Susan Dominus writes a column about Caroline Kennedy’s failed bid for the Senate. Her point seems to be that CK deserved a shot (even though she was the wrong woman) because it would have demonstrated that women who have been out of the workplace to raise kids can still do the job. T.S., honey. How about giving me a shot at the Senate seat? Because I work, I don’t deserve it? This bit about women not getting opportunities in the workplace after the kids is so tired and vaginocentric that it’s offensive. Hey, I’d love a high paying job that I’m not trained for and haven’t given any thought to in 20 years (Sarah Palin, anyone?). Isn’t making money to support children beneficial to society? Didn’t I learn valuable managerial skills? (Btw, did you notice Paterson actually appointed a qualified person to the job?…and she has a vagina!) I bet there are a lot of working women who found CK’s chutzpah off-putting.

Wait a sec, I have an idea.

I write a blog. I want to be appointed to Susan Dominus’s job. I’ve never been a reporter, per se, but I’ve done a lot of similar work in the writing type field. I know I can do a great job. And hey, she’s a woman. Shouldn’t there be more men writing her column?

Sorry. There’s more, but I’ve run out of gas. Maybe I’m just in a bad mood, but these people are destroying my sense of hope.

Microsoft Books $4 Billion; Will Layoff 5000

Thursday, January 22, 2009

From CNBC:

In the latest quarter, its earnings fell to $4.17 billion, or 47 cents a share, from $4.71 billion, or 50 cents a share, a year ago.

Revenue edged up slightly to $16.63 billion from $16.4 billion from a year ago.

This is a disgrace. This is a company that mints money. They posted a $4 billion quarterly profit (albeit less than the same quarter a year ago) and they’re going to layoff 5,000 people??

Why? They can’t find the money? Whatever happens in coming quarters, Microsoft is going to be turning a big, fat profit. This is as unpatriotic, as heartless, a move as a company can make. To be clear…they are extremely profitable. This move is undertaken to boost the stock price (I own it), which has languished for-seemingly-ever. I understand that the market thinks Microsoft’s model is doomed and that Google and Apple are going to lead us into a brave new world of computing in its myriad forms, but give me a break. It’s 4 billion dollars a quarter! Every quarter! Microsoft can buy it’s place in the brave new world.

And will.

They are not going anywhere and will be turning profits for decades to come. Watch.

In the meantime, they’ve got to get their heads screwed on correctly. Save the jobs. Move people around and let them innovate.

And while you’re at it, start paying a big, fat dividend.

Thoughts on the Obama Inaugural

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

If I had time, I’d organize these into an essay…but I don’t, so…

1) There is a terrific irony in the Obama victory. His candidacy was sealed, in my opinion, by the Sarah Palin pick. Palin may have solidified the GOP wingnut “base,” but she cost McCain the sensible, conservatively-inclined middle – including a great many so-called Reagan Democrats. Palin’s candidacy was a stand-in for the Southern strategy that has been so effective for the GOP. She appeals to the proudly ignorant, to the uneducated masses, to all those who are threatened by America’s multiculturalism. It was her candidacy, the very real possibility of the worst of us ascending to the highest office in the land, that ultimately made voters either reject her, or, at the very least, stay home. In other words, ignorance helped usher in a new dawn in America. Sarah Palin, with a massive assist from W., was finally enough to bring about the day when education bested ignorance.

2) This is likely beaten to death everywhere, but I haven’t been reading a lot about the inaugural, so I’m going to take my shot and write about the dynamism of American democracy. Where else, indeed? Really, no where else – not in this way, not at this time. I do not like American triumphalism, that perpetual pat-ourselves-on-the-back that pours forth among Rupert Murdoch’s propagandists, but in this case, it is well deserved. America truly is the world’s first microcosmic global community. Here we have everyone, people from all over the world, finding opportunity, living lives unimaginable in their homelands, becoming Americans and, without limitation, it now seems, seeking to fulfill their highest aspirations. This is what gives me hope for America. This is why I don’t bet against us now. Because, for all our faults, we are always ready to begin again anew. America has grown on its ancient wounds a stronger fiber and possibility is now effused with light and momentum. This is the dynamic character of a free and ever adaptable people. We are down now. But we are not out. We are never out. This election has proved that again.

3) More later…no time to write now…