Monthly Archives: October 2009

John Gapper

Microsoft seems to have a good product in Windows 7, its effort to scrub away the embarrassment of Vista, which is being launched next week. I have not tried it, but those who have report that it is not only less troublesome than Vista but works faster.

However, I am a bit puzzled by the numbering of Windows 7, which seems to me to be rewriting history – or at least leaving out a large chunk of it. 

Mr Wasserstein has died at the age of 61. Read more about him below:

From the FT: 

John Gapper

My FT column this week is on Goldman Sachs, and identifies what I think is the biggest problem facing the  investment bank, which announces its results today. Next week, I intend to offer some solutions, both for regulators and for the bank itself. 

John Gapper

The news that Arthur Levinson, the former chief executive of Genentech, has resigned from Google’s board of directors to eliminate the overlap between directors of Apple and Google, will cause some tremors in Silicon Valley, I would have thought.

Google tried to resist pressure from the Federal Trade Commission, which opened an anti-trust investigation into ties between the two companies earlier this year. It has now backed down, with the other overlapping director, Eric Schmidt of Google, having resigned from Apple’s board in August. 

John Gapper

John Thain, the former chief executive of Merrill Lynch, who appears to be running a low-key campaign for the rehabilitation of his reputation, has an interesting suggestion for how to reform bankers’ pay.

Mr Thain made it during a long presentation to MBA students at the Wharton School last month, which can be seen and read here

John Gapper

The sale of Citigroup’s Phibro inhouse energy trading unit to Occidental raises again the question of reform of over-the-counter derivatives trading.

Followers of this arcane but vital topic may recall a column I wrote last week advising regulators and politicians not to treat financial and non-financial companies differently in upcoming reforms of OTC derivatives trading. Industrial companies have been lobbying heavily for an exemption and are having some success

John Gapper

The surprise for me in the World Economic Forum’s report on global financial centres, presented by Nouriel Roubini at a media briefing in Manhattan this morning, was how badly France and Germany have suffered from the financial crisis.

The report, which ranks countries according to measures such as financial stability and the sophistication of their financial services, unsurprisingly found that New York and London’s lead had narrowed over financial centres in other countries. The US had dropped to third place, behind not only the UK but Australia. 

John Gapper

My column this week is on the late founder of Bertelsmann: 

John Gapper

I went to an interesting media briefing in New York this morning given by Eric Schmidt and Sergey Brin, the chief executive and the co-founder of Google.

They covered various topics, including signs of economic recovery in Google’s business and its tussles over the US class action settlement that would allow Google to digitise many “orphan” books that are no longer in print. 

John Gapper

Somehow, the announcements on the same day that Verizon is linking up with Google on mobile phones, and that AT&T will allow iPhone users to use Skype on its mobile network, feel significant.

There has been a long stand-off between US mobile phone operators and software companies that offer voice over internet services. Google Voice is the latest example of such services, which potentially save consumers money by allowing them, among other things, to make cheap international calls. 

John Gapper

Is that a mea culpa I read from Michael Milken?

Not on the face of it. Mr Milken, pioneer of high-yield bonds and early backer of leveraged buy-outs, insists in an article in today’s FT that the old principles of financial markets still obtain, despite the upheavals of the past year: 

John Gapper

The past few days have not been kind to Nikki Finke, the blogger who has established a reign of terror over Hollywood studios and executives.

First, she (along with everyone else) was beaten to the story that Comcast may take a 51 per cent stake in NBC Universal, by her arch-rival Sharon Waxman, who runs the website The Wrap. Ms Finke pilloried the  story at first but then had to concede that it was sort of true

John Gapper

There is a nice footnote to history in the revelation that the US government tried to force Morgan Stanley to sell itself for $1 a share to JP Morgan Chase at the height of the financial crisis last year.

Had the takeover gone through, it would not only have been a humiliating end to the career of John Mack, Morgan Stanley’s chairman and chief executive, but would also have reversed the enforced break-up of J.P. Morgan by the US government following the 1929 crash. 

John Gapper

My column this week in the FT is on OTC derivatives: