Monthly Archives: September 2011

Andrew Hill

A deal between McGraw-Hill and CME Group to bring together the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 index would be a good moment to consider the irrelevance of the former and the significance of the latter.

What does the Dow have going for it? It’s arguably the highest profile stock market benchmark in the world – granted a daily airing by media worldwide. Its composition is stable (the last change was more than two years ago, when Travelers replaced Citigroup, and Cisco replaced General Motors). Its 30 component stocks are highly liquid, which makes the average quick to calculate. It is old. Very old: it was conjured up by Charles Dow in 1896, with a basket of railroads, steel companies and textile mills. Read more

Michel Barnier has shocked the Big Four accounting firms. The European Union internal market commissioner wants to ban them from operating as consultants as well as auditors, force them to work jointly with others, and set time limits on how long they can audit each company.

John Gapper

Since he kept on repeating it, there was no difficulty in working out what Jeff Bezos regarded as the most important aspect of the Kindle Fire launch in New York this morning.

Mr Bezos gave a little smirk as he announced the $199 price of his new competitor to the Apple iPad – and to the entire ecosystem of films, music, magazines and books that can appear on Apple’s device:

“This is unbelievable value. We are building premium products at non-premium prices. We are determined to do that, and we are doing it.”

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John Gapper

The latest developments at Groupon hardly improve my faith in its prospects for a sound initial public offering.

Not only has Margo Georgiadis, its chief operating officer, left after five months (having, according to the FT, “struggled in dealings with Andrew Mason”, its chief executive) but on Friday it adjusted its S1 IPO filing in a way that cut its reported revenues by more than half. Read more

Andrew Hill

European Union commissioner Michel Barnier’s proposals for tough new rules for audit firms have the Big Four professional services firms in a lather.

As the specialist journal Accountancy Age puts it:

Big Four interests are most threatened by Barnier’s proposals. At their size, they will cop the full force of regulation completely separating audit and non-audit services, potentially compelling them to split and trampling on their business model.

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Andrew Hill

It is a rash commentator who calls the end of history. Such declarations, as Francis Fukuyama discovered, tend to be made on the eve of wrenching change. Even so, despite the mass of management thinking forced between hard covers and carpet-bombed weekly on to cowering readers, it is hard to identify radical innovations from the past decade and tempting to think great breakthroughs are no longer possible.

Andrew Hill

It is a shock to hear Muhtar Kent, chief executive of that quintessentially American company Coca-Cola, suggest that the US is now less friendly to business than China.

But Mr Kent’s comments – “In the west, we’re forgetting what really worked 20 years ago” – echo what I heard two weeks ago at Harvard when I talked to Michael Porter, perhaps the world’s best-known expert on competitiveness. Read more

Andrew Hill

One common public perception of business – as I blogged earlier this week – is that the bigger it is, the worse it is. I was interested, therefore, to read in The Times on Friday that Britain’s top 50 businesses are to get a “hotline” to senior ministers. The paper writes (subscription required):

Bosses of companies, including BP and GlaxoSmithKline, will be able to telephone directly to the top of Whitehall departments in new individually tailored relationships with senior ministers who will act as their “buddies”.

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