Having used my Kindle 2 for a couple of days, I can offer some thoughts on it. There are lots of reviews of the device around the place so I will focus on one aspect that is close to home – how it functions as an e-reader for newspapers.
This is not intended as the Kindle’s main use, which is to read electronic versions of books. However, you can subscribe to various papers and magazines, including the FT, and they are wirelessly delivered every morning. In the FT’s case, since the Kindle is currently a US-only device, it is the US edition. Read more
As an orange juice consumer, I have observed the uproar over the new Tropicana cartons with bemusement. Even before a revolt blew up, I wondered what on earth Tropicana was thinking. Read more
My FT column this week is on Rupert Murdoch: Read more
After attending the Kindle 2 launch the other day, I decided to buy one and so I have been awaiting its arrival, which is due fairly soon (or any minute now, to judge by the online reviews which are springing up).
In the meantime, I have been amusing myself by tracking my Kindle’s cross-country progress via UPS from the Amazon warehouse in Indiana where it was originally held. Read more
You cannot be half-pregnant, is the saying. The question with the US government’s likely conversion of some of its $45bn of preferred shares in Citigroup into an equity stake of up to 40 per cent is: can you claim half-paternity?
Somehow, I doubt it. The US administration does not want to nationalise troubled banks such as Citi and Bank of America but this move feels like a compromise that will not satisfy anyone and will probably lead to more intervention. Read more
Nespresso, Nestle’s brand of espresso coffee and coffee makers, seems to be going from strength to double strength, according to the company. The brand’s annual sales grew 30 per cent last year, taking them past the SFr2bn mark well ahead of schedule, the New York Times reports.
I wrote a column about the success of Nespresso and the similarities – such as the combination of products and services – that it bears to Apple’s iTunes and iPod (and indeed iPhone) combination. It appeared about a year ago and, despite the recession, Nespresso is still doing well. Read more
These are interesting times at Goldman Sachs, perhaps the most interesting since the convulsion that shook the firm in 1994, when it was still a partnership and Stephen Friedman stepped down abruptly as its senior partner, provoking a wave of other departures.
The announcement this week of the departure of Jon Winkelried, its president and co-chief operating officer with Gary Cohn, has set off a flurry of questions about what is going on at Goldman. The FT reported this morning that Goldman’s bankers are worried that this could tip the balance of power too far towards its traders. Read more
I note that the UK is moving in a gingerly fashion towards abolishing paper cheques. The Payments Council, an odd quango that is responsible for selling the idea of phasing out cheques by 2018 is already ruffling feathers among small businesses and older people.
Coincidentally, the Bank of England Museum held a party this week to commemorate the signing of the first cheque (or check, as the Americans have it) 350 years ago. Read more
My column in the FT this week is on Sir Allen Stanford: Read more
Are the Detroit big three at last starting to get realistic about the long-term level of car sales in their home market?
Having pumped up light vehicle sales volumes to a peak of about 17m units a year with cheap credit, they have been hoping against hope to bounce back quickly from sales of about 11m in 2009. Read more
These are very tough times for the business jet industry. The now infamous trip by the heads of the Detroit big three to Washington on board corporate jets to plead for cash from the US government has caused a backlash against private travel.
Here comes a fightback: two groups involved in US business aviation have now launched a campaign to improve the industry’s image. The campaign is called “No plane. No gain” and even has its own web site. Read more
So Sir Allen Stanford has been accused by the Securities and Exchange Commission of a “massive fraud” involving his Antigua-based bank, which took in $8.5bn on depositors’ money and claimed to be investing it in safe, liquid securities.
Reading the SEC’s complaint against Sir Allen and two of his employees, James Davis and Laura Pendergest-Holt, a couple of points spring out for investors. Read more
In these tough economic times, it is sometimes hard to think of a silver lining. But Richard Florida proposes an interesting one: that what is bad for financial services firms may be good for artists and psychiatrists. I think he may be on to something.
In an essay in the latest Atlantic magazine, Florida suggests that New York City may not be as badly affected as some other US cities by the recession – despite being the home of Wall Street – because a lot of New Yorkers work in other industries, some of which are counter-cyclical. Read more
I have a column in the Weekend FT on whistleblowers:
King Lear may have been a terrible father but he was a tolerant employer. Faced with an in-house whistleblower who kept telling him that he was ruling his kingdom badly – and wrongly giving it away – he kept him on the payroll. Read more
My FT column this week is a report on my trip to Washington to watch Tim Geithner unveil his financial bail-out and listen to bankers being castigated: Read more
The bankers’ grilling did liven up a bit – or get somewhat fiercer – in the afternoon. At one point, Ken Lewis of Bank of America showed signs of finally losing his temper during what became a seven-hour marathon of questions and speeches, many of them repetitive.
The heat was turned up in the afternoon by Michael Capuano, the representative from Massachusetts, who devoted his five minutes to an impressively outraged rant about how awful bankers are, starting with the memorable quote: Read more
Well, here I am in Washington, sitting in the House financial services committee room, listening to the House representatives laying into the Wall Street bosses. We have now taken a break for lunch and so far, US politicians have proved less fearsome than British ones.
When the former bosses of Royal Bank of Scotland and HBOS appeared before the UK Treasury select committee this week, they received an undiluted dose of scorn and criticism of the kind in which British members of parliament specialise. Read more
I have never known quite what to make of Bob Lutz, the “product czar” of General Motors, who has decided to retire in April on the grounds that the industry is no fun any more.
Mr Lutz, who is 76 and therefore about the oldest person left in the Detroit auto industry, was a journalists’ dream – accessible, funny, tactless and full of provocative (if sometimes contradictory) views about an industry he knew well. Read more
I have just watched Jeff Bezos (and Stephen King) introduce the Kindle 2 at the Morgan Library in New York. It had the feel of an event at which people were just waking up to the possibility of an entirely new category of device or software, like Windows 3 or the Apple iPod.
The attendance at the launch certainly suggested that. Quite a large auditorium was packed with journalists, publishers, photographers and assorted hangers-on and, after the presentation had finished, there was a crowd of people hanging around to try out the device. Read more
Lloyd Blankfein’s opinion piece for the FT on the lessons for Wall Street from the financial crash is thoughtful and well worth a read.
Among the striking suggestions he makes are that hedge funds and all financial vehicles that are an integral part of the financial system should be regulated to some degree, and that, if a trader and a risk manager at an bank disagree, the latter’s view should always prevail. Read more