Monthly Archives: March 2009

John Gapper

Good grief. Every so often, one learns something shocking about markets and this morning I found out that wholesale tea is priced in dollars rather than sterling (or the Indian or Chinese currencies).

This means that the British tea drinker is going to suffer even more from the rising price of tea than Americans because of the fall in the value of the pound against the dollar. Read more

John Gapper

Having just watched Barack Obama’s televised remarks about GM and Chrysler, the most striking thing was that, after a gentle start praising the historic strengths of the industry and its place at the heart of the US economy, he got remarkably tough.

First, the president said openly that they might have to go into Chapter 11 bankruptcy to meet a 60-day deadline for restructuring, in the case of GM, and 30-day deadline, in the case of Chrysler: Read more

John Gapper

The departure of Rick Wagoner as chief executive of General Motors was inevitable once Barack Obama’s auto taskforce had concluded that it did not believe the restructuring plan GM had submitted in an effort to gain billions more in government support.

The question is whether Fritz Henderson, who is a GM lifer like Mr Wagoner, has enough credibility to retain his post as Mr Wagoner’s successor for long. Read more

John Gapper

Supermarkets in the US are more reliant on branded products than their counterparts in Europe, which have bigger selections of private label goods. But the recession is being treated by US retailers as a chance to have another go with private label.

Wal-Mart has relaunched its Great Value private label brand and I had an interesting chat today with executives from 7-Eleven, the Japanese-owned convenience store chain, which is trying to do the same thing with its 7-Select private label brandRead more

John Gapper

Tim Geithner’s plan to make it compulsory for larger hedge funds to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and to disclose information to the SEC about their investors and counter-parties, will probably cause some griping in the industry.

Hedge funds can fairly argue that they have hardly been at the epicentre of the financial crisis and have been able to suffer heavy investor withdrawals, and even collapse, without noticeably hurting the financial system as a whole. Read more

John Gapper

My FT column this week is on Tim Geithner and Ben Bernanke’s plan for winding up insolvent financial institutions: Read more

John Gapper

Perhaps it was just me, but I thought I detected a note of regret at this morning’s session of the House of Representatives financial services committee about the House’s rush last week to tax 90 per cent of bonuses at institutions that have taken public funding.

The main business of the session was to grill Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, and Tim Geithner, Treasury secretary, on matters including the AIG bonuses and their request to be granted more authority to seize and wind down insolvent non-banks. Read more

John Gapper

On the day that Rajan Tata gave details of the world’s cheapest car - the 100,000 Rupee Nano – I went to the US unveiling of what promises to be one of the most expensive: the new Rolls-Royce 200EXRead more