Monthly Archives: April 2009

John Gapper

Unlike Barack Obama and others, I have sympathy for the hedge funds and other investment funds that rejected the Chrysler restructuring offer and forced it into Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

In fact, not only do I sympathise with their argument, but I think they have a better chance of getting improved terms from the bankruptcy court than the US administration would have us believe. 

John Gapper

Well, I realise this is old hat for some but it is new to me.

I am writing this 35,000 feet up in the air on an American Airlines flight from San Francisco to New York, thanks to the inflight internet connection (which costs $12.95). Compared to the $10 the cabin crew are charging for a sandwich, I do not think that is bad. 

John Gapper

I do not think a decision to split the roles of chairman and chief executive of a company, which is a sensible thing to do, should indicate the end for the dual occupant. But that is often what happens.

Bank of America is putting a brave face on the narrow vote by shareholders to strip Ken Lewis of the bank chairmanship, but the fact that he resisted it so staunchly makes the outcome painful. 

John Gapper

My FT column this week is on the advertising industry: 

John Gapper

We are so used to the notion that the US lags behind the rest of the world in mobile phone use that it is a shock to be told it is no longer true.

I am in San Francisco at the leadership conference of the American Association of Advertising Agencies (now formally re-branded as the 4As) and have been hearing some interesting statistics. 

John Gapper

It seems that Chrysler could eventually end up under the majority ownership of the UAW, its main union, with Fiat holding a minority stake. It sounds awfully like the revisiting of a past era.

In the 1980s, there was a rash of employee-owned companies emerging out of troubled private ownership. In 1994, United Airlines became majority owned by its employees after all else had failed. 

John Gapper

I wrote a piece in the Weekend FT on the vagaries of concert halls and baseball stadiums:

If you build it, they will come. But they will not know what to expect. 

John Gapper

This is my column on Asia and business brands in the FT: 

John Gapper

Today’s Shanghai launch of the Porsche Panamera, its first vehicle launch since the 2002 Cayenne sports utility vehicle launch in 2002, shows which way the wind is blowing in the global car industry. 

John Gapper

My FT column this week is on Goldman Sachs: 

John Gapper

Prompted by The Masters golf tournament, Justin Fox has an interesting analysis of the comparative wages of golf caddies and skilled manual workers in the US. His conclusion is that, while it used to be just about as rewarding to work in a factory as to caddy for a tournament player, those days are long gone.

Of course, the caddy-plant operator wage disparity is a microcosm of a broader truth about western economies – that it is very hard for a high school-educated man to get a well-paid job these days. A lot of the economic strains in advanced industrialised societies are caused by this fact. 

John Gapper

Offering employees paid sabbaticals on lower wages, and prodding them to go off and do something rewarding seems like a European, not to say Swedish, employment policy. But it is catching on among the most unlikely of US employers.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, which as the New York Times puts it, is “a notably gruelling place for a lawyer to work”, is offering all 1,300 of its associates – employees below partner level a year off, on a third of their salaries, as a means of cutting costs and sitting out the downturn. 

John Gapper

I’m taking a holiday and will return in 10 days or so.

John Gapper

My FT column this week is on Detroit and the failure of shareholders: