Motor wunderkind Wolfgang Bernhard is back at Daimler – yet another recycled auto exec back in a top job at a company he once worked for. Paul Ingrassia’s new book, Crash Course, details how the insularity of the Detroit auto makers contributed to their downfall as complacent chiefs and enabling boards shut their eyes to reality. The European auto industry is no different, as the demise of DaimlerChrysler – orchestrated by clubby continentals – demonstrated. Bernhard did some fine work at Volkswagen – and, back in the day, at Chrysler – but not enough, judging by the fact that Chrysler landed in bankruptcy and is now the least likely of the Detroit Three to survive. Daimler itself is headed by another retread – albeit a very smart one named Dieter Zetsche. But as savvy as he is, Zetsche presided over Chrysler’s downhill slide only to ascend to the top Daimler spot after Juergen Schrempp (aka the architect of the Chrysler takeover) was pushed out. What’s heartening is that Ford and General Motors are now headed by non-automotive outsiders. Under former Boeing exec Alan Mulally, Ford’s showing terrific progress. It will be interesting to see how GM fares under former AT&T boss Ed Whitacre.
Archive for February 5th, 2010
“Domino’s Pizza crust to me is like cardboard.”
I’m not quoting a friend or family member – I’m quoting a Domino’s Pizza commercial, in which Domino’s focus group participants denigrate everything about the taste of the chain’s signature product. To trumpet a revamping of its pizza recipe in December, Domino’s put out commercials in which its marketing and product executives listen with dismay to withering criticism: for example, Marketing Director Karen Kaiser saying, “Whoa, this one’s really bad – ‘worst excuse for pizza I’ve ever had.’” Others: “The sauce tastes like ketchup”; “totally void of flavor’; “boring, artificial imitation of what pizza can be.”
Credit Markets, Financial Markets, Greece, Investing, United States, Wall Street / Comments Off
You can talk about the January predictor (so goes the first month, so goes the U.S. stock market for the year, maybe) or the Super Bowl predictor (a circumstantial sometimes accurate parallel between who wins a football game and the direction of the U.S. stockmarket).
One fact is clear: volatility is back.
It’s not just evident in U.S. equities markets, but in stocks and bonds around the world. There are flighst back to safety because ofte sovereign debt worries about Greece, Spain, Ireland and Portugal.
(I find the derisive acronym being bandied about for these four nations, PIGS, particularly distasteful. It’s noted only once here just to register that distaste.)
There are worries about the growth prospects in the U.S. and the sustainability of a nascent recovery.
After a period of market stability and optimism and we-avoided-a- catastophe sanguinity, the action Thursday and today reminds us all too much of the wild swings that hit us so hard in the fall of 2008 and lasted into the spring of 2009.
Today in U.S. stocks was one to remember. After Thursday’s 2.6% drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the venerable 30-stock index is down modestly at this writing. It hovers just below 10,000. Earlier today it was below 9,900, cracking technical support levels as it dropped.
There is still some minutes of trading left in the week, so who knows how it will wind up.
As the dollar strengthened, oil has taken a terrific tumble. After falling 5% just on Thursday, the price of a barrel of crude oil fell another 2.7% today, finishing at about $71.20.
As a former colleague would say in the face of this sort of market action: fasten your seat belts.