Almost every Friday, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. shuts down a bank or as many as seven banks. I call it “Failure Friday.” Last week, Failure Friday it Denver, which got me to talking about this very long trend on Denver’s NBC affiliate 9News with anchor Eric “UDAMAN” Kahnert.
Archive for January, 2011
Financial reports from America’s biggest banks last week were mixed at best.
With most of the industry’s giants reporting declining revenue, it’s clear banking isn’t growing any better than the economy.
Click here to read my column in The Sunday Wall Street Journal.
Globalize It / Comments Off
If China was serious about assuaging our fears of commercial domination, it would buy more of our junk.
Click here to read what I mean.
Workplace / Comments Off
America’s labor unions lost 612,000 members in 2010, leaving only 11.9% of the workforce unionized, vs. 12% in 2009, according to a report out today from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Click here to read the full report from the BLM.
It’s a grim story for unions with only 14.7 million members now, compared 17.7 million union workers in 1983.
Why do Americans shun unions at a time when they may need them the most? We are all so easily discarded with unemployment stuck at over 9% for more than 20 months.
Many unions represent public employees and better-paid public employees can mean higher taxes.
There’s also the perception that unions helped destroy many of the companies that employed their members, including GM and Chrysler. That’s going to be a hard one for unions to shake.
And then there’s the corruption factor. Many union leaders, as they gain power, become just as self-dealing, manipulative and dishonest as the executive teams they challenge. They’re not looking out for the people. They’re building fiefdoms, like all the other power-crazed maniacs that run the world.
Unions should be welcomed as legitimate players in the market. Collective bargaining could be a way to efficiently organize labor. Somebody needs to put the brakes on out-of-control CEO pay and the shipping of American jobs overseas. But it should be pretty clear by now that the unions have failed.
Media / Comments Off
In case anyone is still wondering about the management shakeup at MediaNews, it’s been taken over by a hedge fund since it’s bankruptcy restructuring and there’s a new management putting it’s own people in charge.
Dean Singleton is out as MediaNews’ CEO, but the good news is that he will remain with the company as executive chairman as well as publisher of The Denver Post and The Salt Lake City Tribune. His longtime sidekick, and former CEO-heir-apparent, Jody Lodovick is gone. And three directors of the MediaNews board have been replaced.
It’s pretty much the way it goes with these deals. Singleton, who had always run MediaNews, now works for Alden Global Capital. Alden is part owner of another newspaper company wrung through the bankruptcy process, Freedom Communications.
The Wall Street Journal reports the two companies may be merged, and Singleton hints at opportunities for consolidation.
(FYI: I have been employed by both Freedom and MediaNews, and I can only wish these companies the best in these difficult times. Singleton, especially. He’s the one who gave me the opportunity to launch my column and blog, as well as his top editor, Greg Moore. They usually published whatever I wrote, even if they had to do it with a grimace. And now that I’m at Dow Jones, they still run it.)
Singleton may be down, but he’s not out. He still owns part of the company.
Michael Roberts of Denver’s alternative weekly Westword has reported the best interview of Singleton, so far. Click here to read Robert’s interview with Singleton.
And click here to read more in The Denver Business Journal.
(PHOTO: Al Lewis and Dean Singleton at the Society of American Business Editors and Writers conference in Denver, April 2009.)
The good news is, the market is improving for homebuilders.
That’s because 2010 was the second-worst year the industry has seen since 1959 – 2009 being the worst.
Builders broke ground on 587,600 homes in 2010, inching above the 554,000 started in 2009.
Of course, with foreclosures and unemployment at record highs, and credit as tight as it’s been, it’s hard to believe America needed another million-plus homes built in the last two years.
It’s also hard to believe the economy is really recovering without housing – since it was the housing bust that triggered the fall.
Courts / Comments Off
There ought to be a 12-step program for people who are addicted to writing abusive emails.
Commodities trader and money manager Vincent McCrudden is “a good and decent man,” according to his attorney. But you wouldn’t believe what he writes in his emails.
McCrudden has apparently been sounding off this way for years, but this time it’s landed him in jail.
His attorney says what regulators see as profanity-laced death threats aimed at them are really just “bad metaphors.” You know, just getting a little hot-headed behind the keyboard. We’ve all done it, right?
Click here to read my column. If you’ve ever written an email you regret, you’ll probably feel better about it now, knowing you didn’t go quite this far.
Courts / Comments Off
Turns out Bank of America, with all its foreclosure woes, wasn’t the most sued company in America last year.
Thanks to ongoing asbestos litigation, General Electric and Goodyear beat it out, according to a tally by Institutional Risk Analytics.
Bank of America even beat out Toyota and BP.
Click here to read IRA’s full report.
Retailing / Comments Off
Holiday spending was better than last year, but does not yet mark a full recovery. I talk about it with 9News anchor Eric Kahnert.
Wall Street / Comments Off
The Justice Department’s crackdown on insider trading keeps expanding.
Now it looks like there’s a whole industry devoted to recruiting inside tips and passing them on to hedge funds. It’s even got a sanitized name, “expert networking.”
If you are one of those who think the stock market was nothing more than a rigged casino, well, here’s yet another piece of evidence that you may be absolutely correct.
Click here to read my column in the Sunday Wall Street Journal.