Meet David Heitner who left his job as a retail broker to start a commercial cleaning company. Click here to read my column about Heitner.
Archive for November, 2009
Economy Stupid / Comments Off
Few economists, analysts and leaders seem to consider the devastation that is occuring right beneath our feet amid a prolonged period of unemployment.
What does the economy look like when more than 10% of the working population is unemployed, for years, and years, and years? What is the wear and tear on the social fabric? What is the drain on government resources?
Enthralled with indicators juiced mostly by government spending – such as Gross Domestic Product – many seem content to say the market is growing. As government money flooded the system, even the stock market rebounded to more than 10,000 on the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
But unemployment remains higher than many of us have seen in our lifetimes. It’s 10.2%, officially. But when you consider factors like people who’ve stopped looking for work after hopless pursuits, or taken part-time jobs, or are chronically underemployed, the numbers start to look more like 20%, approaching Great Depression levels.
So what effect does this have? We’ll find out if government stimulus spending slows.
World Bank President Robert Zoellick stated the obvious on Wednesday.
“You’re going to have problems with delinquencies of credit card loans, consumer loans, people won’t be able to pay their mortgages,” he said told reporters in Singapore. “Some banks are going to continue to be troubled by bad loans.”
All the things our bailout-happy leaders are trying to stop.
Click here to read more from The Associated Press.
The random musings of Danny Bogar, who was president of Stanford’s brokerage operations, offer a lot of insight into what people surrounding R. Allen Stanford were thinking: Nothing.
“If you are sitting around during our current economic crisis, wondering what you are going to do next, keep one thing in mind. The key to your success now and in the future is to understand clearly what your purpose is,” Bogar writes.
What’s his purpose? He calls his blog “Value Added Leader.” But where’s the value at Stanford? Or for that matter, where’s the principal?
Click here to read my column on Bogar.
Click here to read Bogar’s blog.
Food For Thought / Comments Off
McDonald’s has been a big winner in the U.S. recession as more consumers flocked to cheaper restaurants. Click here to read the details from the Associated Press
So does this mean the economy has gotten better? Or has it gotten worse? With 10% unemployment maybe too many people can’t even afford the Dollar Menu.
One person who just knew this would happen was Pierre Lassonde, chairman of Toronto-based royalty company Franco-Nevada Corp. When I interviewed Lassonde in August 2003 – when gold hit a lofty $375 an ounce – he told me gold had no where to go but up. Way, way up.
Is sure wish I would have listened more carefully. Gold has nearly tripled since then. How many other investment classes have tripled since 2003?
A bet on gold – to some extent – is a bet that world’s the crazy financial schemes will eventually come to an end. Increasingly, central banks seem to be taking that bet, with India buying 200 metric tons of gold this week. How much higher can it go from here?
I thought I’d check in with Lassonde to see what he had to say now.
Click here to read my column.
And here’s the column I wrote about Lassonde in 2003:
Are you satisfied with your life?
That’s the question posed by a new Harris Poll.
Philosophically, I find it an absurd question. What does satisfaction really mean when every second after birth we just that much closer to our demise?
Some people are satisfied just to be watching a ball game on big screen TV and eating a bag of pork rinds. Others need private jet service to the game and a skybox.
“I can’t get no satisfaction,” say they Rolling Stones, and they have been doing every decadent thing rock stars can do, for decades now.
According to Harris, fewer people are satisfied now than they were in years past, when the economy was employing more people. But despite our nation’s economic problems American’s remain upbeat about their lives.
Here are some tidbits from the survey:
*88% of all adults are satisfied with their lives, and 54% are very satisfied. But these numbers are lower than four other Harris Polls since 2003.
* 40% feel that their lives have improved over the last five years.
* 27% feel their lives have gotten worse.
*30% of people aged 62 or higher feel their situation has improved vs. only 20% who feel it has deteriorated.
* 54% majority of adults believe their personal situation will improve over the next five years. That’s down from 65% in 2005.
* Optimism fades with age. 82% of Echo Boomers (aged 18-30), 64% of Gen X and 54% of Baby Boomers believe their situation will improve. Only 21% of people 62 and older believe this.
* Republicans are more likely than Democrats to be very satisfied with their lives (63% vs. 49%). But they’re less likely to believe their situation will improve in the next five years (52% vs. 63%).
Blues guitarist Jason Green was jamming last week at the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association’s annual meeting in New York for folks who’d just heard U.S. Secretary Timothy Geithner speak.
His audience was sipping from open bars and dining on shrimp, crab claws, and heavy hors d’oeuvres. Often, though he plays for people as they scramble for trains in the subway.
Click here to read my column on Green, who’s been playing the blues for Wall Street.
Companies / Comments Off
Walt Disney Co. in August agreed to buy the comic book giant for $4 billion.
I thought it sounded like a funny deal then, sort of like Bambi meets Godzilla. Plus, it valued Marvel’s characters, many of whom are quite obscure, at $800,000 a piece. For a good laugh, click here to read my column from when the deal was announced.
Much of the slide in Marvel’s earnings, however, was attributable to lower film revenue and licensing sales. Part of that was coming off last year’s huge films, ”Iron Man” and “Incredible Hulk.” Another part may be that Disney wants to keep the intellectual property rights for itself.
Click here for the financial details.
The whole deal reminds me of a Marvel Next Avenger named Pym. His power often manifests subconsciously, causing him to shrink when faced with conflict.
Autopia / Comments Off
Click here to read the details from the Associated Press.
OK, so much of this is because of Cash for Clunkers and rampant cost-cutting, but still, it’s a profit from a U.S. automaker.
(PHOTO: Ford CEO Alan Mulally at Detroit’s Auto Show in January. By Al Lewis.)