We are coming off the last nonholiday weekend of the summer, a time when no news is supposed to break.
So let's ignore the inconvenient fact that as The Business Press Maven writes early this morning, the wires are teeming with
will be swallowed whole by itself, in a fashion.
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The company will be
taken private for more than $20 billion in cash and debt assumption by a private equity group that includes its chief executive.
The absurdist in me sees a negotiation in these cases in which the chief executive sits in one chair and names his price, whereupon he gets up and races to the other side of the conference table, sits down in the chair of the feared corporate raider and names another.
The spread between bid and offer is understandably narrow, but negotiation goes on like this until the CEO is breathless from running around the conference table so much. It's Groucho Marx meets the leveraged buyout.
While that may be absurd, score a welcome point for common sense and the third wave of
battery articles: first to get it right.
As I so perceptively mentioned
last week, the media wrongly focused on
in the Sony battery story.
Dell and Apple were players in that story, but not headliners. The underlying issue is Sony's to deal with.
Over the weekend, we turned the corner on the issue. In one
said (better late than never) that: "Dell and Apple took the initial publicity hit from recalling about 6m laptop batteries. The real fall-out will be at Sony."
on the issue, this one headlined "Battery trouble hinders Sony's bid for brand supremacy." The crux of the latter article is simple: The company's achy-breaky batteries present Sony (Dell and Apple are rightly only mentioned briefly, as bit players) with a big challenge.
As you know and probably turn over in your mind throughout the day, The Business Press Maven has turned more bullish on the stock market recently, but is way negative on housing.
The favorable demographics and ever-lower interest rates that pushed housing to such heights in the past generation will do the opposite in the next. Baby-boomers will downsize instead of buy big and interest rates will be higher.
Well, if you have the temerity and inexcusably bad judgment to disagree with me, what should you do?
I recommend reading this
about some opportunities in the hard-hit housing, home improvement and lender sectors.
If you think what we're going through is merely an "adjustment," well, then you're probably a real estate agent.
But intelligent minds can disagree and if you think the housing downturn will be manageable (I refuse to use the famous last words "soft landing"), then read up for trading opportunities.
But before you invest in housing, let
The New Yorker
bend your ear on the concept of
There is no more basic factor in business trends. Unfortunately, demographics are usually ignored because the very concept lacks pizazz and panache, and requires a longer-form view than most are accustomed to.
I have my issues with some of the other claims in this article, but let's not open up that can of worms this early in the morning, it'll scare the children. Just pay attention to the demographics logic.
about how productivity gains in the American economy have been knocked down to a trickle for good almost knocked The Business Press Maven down. OK, I'm tougher than that -- it was really a standing eight count -- but you get the point. The point I didn't get was why.
We know that although technology has not eliminated recessions or changed the human component of the economy, it has led to some productivity gains.
We also know that recent numbers haven't been great.
But the article goes right from the assumption that productivity gains are as dead as disco to a concern for what that will mean with increased inflation.
I think inflation might be a factor going forward, but without having established why productivity gains are a thing of the past, should we be talking about how poorly the two will play together?
, call me.
OK, I picked on National Public Radio last week so I don't want to pile it on ... but it's just so easy.
Now the folks who bring us "All Things Belabored" have aired a story about how investors and speculators are to blame for high gas prices. They explained what they described as a devilish concept: futures.
Make sure your wigs are clipped securely to your heads before you read this scary little line: "These analysts say the oil market has created big incentives to hold on to oil rather than sell it."
Where do you start with such nonsense? Probably by turning off the radio and throwing in a CD.
Look: A market without futures contracts is one without the sort of hedging that leads to long-term liquidity and stability. At the extremes, is there some unsettling speculation? Of course. But with or without the speculators, the only way to turn the market is for the underlying fundamentals to change.
And guess what? If the Middle East turns into a center of hippie-dippy love and the Chinese start driving cars that run on horse-poop-produced ethanol, then those speculators are going to be the first to get their shirts handed to them. But blaming them is like blaming -- well, there's no adequate metaphor.
Every time a market gets crazy in any direction, we see futures speculators written up as villains twirling their mustaches as they hide behind capes.
I love when a journalist tries to make a case so spurious that he is forced to back off it in his kicker. And so we have it here.
: "There are many oil analysts who disagree, though. They say oil prices will stay high as long as there is trouble in the Middle East. And that could be for a very long time."
You mean it's not the fault of the futures contract boogeymen? Well, live and learn.
A journalist with a background on Wall Street, Marek Fuchs has written the County Lines column for The New York Times for the past five years. He also contributes regular breaking news and feature stories to many of the paper's other sections, including Metro, National and Sports. Fuchs was the editor-in-chief of Fertilemind.net, a financial Web site twice named "Best of the Web" by Forbes Magazine. He was also a stockbroker with Shearson Lehman Brothers in Manhattan and a money manager. He is currently writing a chapter for a book coming out in early 2007 on a really embarrassing subject. He lives in a loud house with three children.