There is what I found a rather remarkable piece in the FT this morning by Irwin Stelzer, director of economic studies at the free-market Hudson Institute, praising Neelie Kroes, the EU competition commissioner and taking an anti-trust dig at Anton Scalia, the right-wing Supreme Court justice.
Mr Stelzer’s support for the EU’s action against Intel may be influenced by his consulting role to AMD, which complained to the EU about Intel’s pricing strategy and aggressive use of discounts. Even so, such a strong stance in favour of the European style of anti-trust is striking: Read more
Somehow it was bound to happen. The “Twittergate” scandal involving German members of parliament who leaked the result of the president’s re-election is symptomatic of the current craze for Twitter among the world’s politicians, business people and media types.
As the FT reports this morning: Read more
My column in the FT on Thursday is about luxury and premium good in the downturn: Read more
It has always struck me that lengthy face-offs among internal candidates within companies to become the next head, a tradition popularised by Jack Welch when he was about to step down as chairman and chief executive of General Electric, are internally destabilising.
Having two or three senior executives publicly duking it out in something akin to a medieval joust for a king’s or queen’s approval absorbs a lot of energy and exacerbates internal fiefs. Read more
I have written a column for the Weekend FT on internet search:
For years, there has been little competition in the business of enabling people to find out things on the web: Google led and a bunch of its would-be rivals lagged behind. Suddenly, however, internet search is becoming lively again. Read more
For some reason, the headline “Why journalists deserve low pay” caught my attention (via Roy Greenslade) and I have read the essay on the topic by Robert Picard.
I think his analysis that the economic value of general news content has diminished because local papers no longer have a distribution monopoly is correct. However, I am not sure about his solution – that such papers should reconfigure themselves as digital providers of specialist information. Read more
The financial crisis has at least had one good effect, finally pushing over the top the right of US shareholders to nominate directors to company boards. I am not sure whether that is strictly logical, since there has not been a broad failure of corporate governance – just one on Wall Street – but so be it.
Since I hail from a country where shareholders have more explicit rights than in the US, I have always found the US system of corporate governance hard to grasp. In particular, the notion that investors need either to sue or to mount a public battle to displace directors in order to be heard strikes me as odd. Read more
My Thursday column for the FT is on the president’s fuel-efficiency standards: Read more
The dollar is falling and the stock market is rising as investors become more convinced that the financial crisis is easing and that some sort of recovery is underway.
That exuberance is also spreading to imbibers of wine, it seems. Having fallen last year, prices for vintage wine are again rising, according to Hart Davis Hart, a US wine dealer. It was pleased with the results of one auction held in Chicago last weekend: Read more
Here, here to Jamie Dimon, whose remarks on the restrictions within the Troubled Assets Relief Programme on US banks hiring foreign employees I could not improve upon:
Rules preventing US banks from hiring foreigners are a “complete and utter disgrace” and could prompt overseas governments to retaliate against American expatriates, Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, warned on Tuesday. Read more
BlackRock and Larry Fink are under media scrutiny from various angles.
The FT locates a wise Swabian housewife and asks her about the financial crisis. Read more
David Brooks has an interesting column in the New York Times this morning about the traits of successful chief executives, which concludes that execution and organisational skills are far more important than the ability to inspire or be a good listener:
“The CEOs that are most likely to succeed are humble, diffident, relentless and a bit unidimensional. They are often not the most exciting people to be around.”
Woodrow Wilson was the world’s first Twitterer, says Nick Carr.
David Carr feels the New York Times will survive. Read more
There is plenty of amusement to be had from reading Donald Trump’s deposition about how he calculates his riches. But I have some regard for his admission, reported in the Wall Street Journal, that his methodology is partly subjective:
“My net worth fluctuates, and it goes up and down with markets and with attitudes and with feelings, even my own feeling,” he told lawyers in the December 2007 deposition . . . Read more
The trove of documents and emails about Hank Paulson’s banking system bailout last October, uncovered by Judicial Watch, are interesting not only for the emails exchanged among Treasury officials but the light they shed on what has become a very controversial topic.
Did Mr Paulson force the nine biggest banks in the US to become partly-owned by the government, or did they take capital because they feared for their existence amid financial turmoil? Read more
My FT column this week is on the New York Times: Read more
All the signs are that the global economy is recovering from the precipitous drop we have experienced in the past year. Jean-Claude Trichet, president of the European Central Bank, is hardly a professional optimist but he now expects a gradual economic recovery.
Meanwhile, various companies are becoming cautiously hopeful about the future – or at least that the worst is over. Carlos Ghosn of Renault/Nissan joined the club today, predicting that Nissan will return to profit in its 2010 fiscal year, which runs to March 2011. Read more
I have some small insight into Barack Obama’s well-received comic speech to the White House Correspondents Dinner in Washington on Saturday night since I was there. More specifically, I was sitting near Larry Summers, who is director of the Council of Economic Advisers, when he was singled out by Mr Obama.
The general practice is that news organisations invite outsiders to join them and, while some go for Hollywood stars, the FT tends to be rather serious and invite business executives and officials. So he was at one our our tables. Read more
Well, it looks as if I was wrong about one thing in my column on capital ratios last week – tangible common equity is not the new tier 1 capital after all, at least as far as the Federal Reserve goes. The Fed prefers something called tier 1 common.
I do not pretend fully to understand the difference – both tangible common equity and tier 1 common equity are a tighter measure of capital strength than tier 1, which was originally adopted in the 1988 Basel Accord. However, tier 1 common is a bit looser than tangible common. Read more
There are many contenders for the most disastrous enterprise in the financial crisis: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, AIG etc. For my money (literally, since I am a US taxpayer) it is hard to beat General Motors.
GM is still in intensive care, relentlessly absorbing public money with no obvious end in sight. Banks may be starting to look a bit healthier, but GM keeps on getting sicker. Read more