Wall Street Journal, Nov 27, 2010
Just a few headlines that I found in the Nov 27, 2010 issue of Wall Street Journal.
Palin gets Lifetime Achievement Award
Sarah Palin received a Lifetime Achievement Award today in recognition of her success in reading her book. "We are very privileged to present tonight's award for Outstanding Achievement to a very special reader - Sarah Palin" - The Galaxy British Book Awards announced in a press release published on its website. - "We were immensely impressed by Ms. Palin's demonstration of her reading and comprehension skills when she was able to narrate the contents of her book "Going Rogue", making only an occasional grammatical error or two as she was speaking. Considering where she started from, we felt this represented an achievement that was well worth recognizing." Ms. Palin, however, was dealt a setback by the Pulitzer Prize Committee, which refused to give her its prestigious literary award. The Committee spokesman explained to WSJ that the committee's policy was to give awards for writing only.
Citibank reports $10 billion earned or saved.
Citibank reported a blowout quarter yesterday, smoking the analysts' predictions of zero to negative earnings. "Our restructuring program resulted in $10 billion earned or saved in the third quarter" - Vikram Pandit told shareholders during the earnings call. Mr. Pandit declined to give an exact number of dollars earned versus dollars saved.
Recovery gains traction, Obama says
Speaking at the White House today, President Obama took full credit for the recovery of the US economy. This is the seventh recovery Obama took credit for this year.
Goldman stabilizes oil futures market
Goldman Sachs' fleet of strategic aircraft carriers blocked the Iranian coast today in an effort to intercept crude shipments that threatened to destabilize the oil futures market, already struggling to absorb the oversupply in the aftermath of the Asian stock market crash. The company said it was looking into the possibility of deploying its navy in the other oil-rich regions of the world such as the Gulf of Mexico, the Yellow Sea, and the shelf waters off the Nigerian coast.
A year later, Bank of America is still looking for a new CEO
Even though Ken Lewis left his position as the CEO more than a year ago, Bank of America is still struggling to find the right candidate for the job, leading some analysts to worry that the cost of attracting and retaining top talent might put pressure on profit margins next year. Even though its job ad on Craigslist has produced some replies (a source in the IT department told WSJ on condition of anonymity that the company's mail server crashed three times during this week), none of the candidates had enough courage to indicate a desired annual salary in excess of $1 billion, which is the company's minimum required threshold. The highest bid - $850M a year plus options and bonuses - came from ex-Lehman Brothers CEO Dick Fuld. "I felt so frustrated" - former Lehman Brothers CEO Dick Fuld told WSJ after his job application was rejected by the bank. -"Even though I summoned up all my courage to ask for the highest compensation that I thought I might deserve, they told me my offer still fell short". Mr. Fuld said he's now taking a course to build his self-esteem as he was looking forward to reapply next year. Meanwhile, BAC's compensation committee announced it would increase the CEO's starting salary by 50% effective next January.
Wisdom of crowds works surprisingly well, study finds.
A study published last week by Journal of Sociology has shown that ordinary Americans were able to guess the employment record of government officials with surprising accuracy. Thus, when respondents were asked to tell the name of the current Secretary of the Treasury, only 30% answered correctly. However, when asked which bank he worked for prior to getting the Treasury job, an astonishing 85% of respondents gave the correct answer. In an interview with WSJ, the authors of the paper said they were now looking into broader socioeconomic and political context in an effort to explain respondents' ability to guess the name of Treasury Secretary's former employer even as majority of respondents remained largely ignorant of any other details about his career.
Buffett buys Mexico.
Mission completed. Warren Buffett shot and killed a massive, $1.09 trillion elephant with this morning's acquisition of Mexico. Berkshire is buying the remaining $100 billion it doesn't already own plus $900 billion in debt. That makes it the largest acquisition in its history, trouncing its former elephant, the $44 billion purchase of BNI last year. "If you gave me $10 trillion and asked me to produce another Mexico, I would give it back to you and say it can't be done" - Mr. Buffett told the WSJ reporter. In other Berkshire news, class B shares will be split 500-to-1.
Obama pardons Madoff, offers a job in the government.
President Obama pardoned the infamous financier Bernard Madoff on Thursday, after Madoff's memoir netted him enough money to compensate the investors in Madoff Securities for all the losses they suffered when Madoff admitted his company was one big Ponzi scheme. Madoff's lawyer announced yesterday that Warner Bros. agreed to pay $60 billion for the film rights to his memoir titled "One up on SEC" - enough to pay back both the principal and the interest that was owed to the depositors, and to still continue running his investment company. Mr. Madoff will now advise Mr. Obama on how to cope with growing Social Security deficits.
Investor buys copper for $10,000 an ounce.
Commodity investor Fungus Winklebottom purchased 20,000 ounces of yellow metal today for $10,000 an ounce after mistakenly placing an order for copper instead of gold. While slightly disappointed, the investor said he still intended to hold the copper to let it grow into its valuation. "It wasn't a very good deal, but it was an OK deal" - Mr. Winklebottom said. -As long as I can put my dollars into something tangible, I feel I'm still receiving full value for my money". Mr. Winglebottom said he was now looking to add arsenic, lead, and mercury to his commodity stockpile.
Moody's leaves Zimbabwe's AAA rating unchanged
Moody's today announced its decision to keep Zimbabwe's sovereign rating unchanged, citing the government's quantitative easing policies. "We like the fact that they are not dogmatic when it comes to monetary policy" - the ratings agency said in a statement this morning. -"Its heavy reliance on quantitative easing gives us reason to believe that the probability of default on its sovereign debt is extremely low." The ratings agency's decision was welcome news to S. S. Mumbengegwi, Zimbabwe's Foreign Minister, who was visiting China to reassure the Chinese government that Zimbabwe is a good investment. "I certainly do think that the Chinese government and central bank are making a smart decision by continuing to invest in Zimbabwe Treasury bonds," Mumbengegwi said in the interview, shortly before departing for Harare. To boost the economy, Zimbabwe has to incur more debt, he said. "It would not be in China's interest if we were unable to get our economy moving," Mumbengegwi said. "So by continuing to support Zimbabwe Treasury instruments, the Chinese are recognizing our interconnection. Our economies are so intertwined, the Chinese know that to start exporting again to Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe has to take some very drastic measures with this stimulus package, which means we have to incur more debt." Zimbabwean investors reacted positively to the announcement, sending the market up another 20%. Zimbabwean stocks have been on a tear lately, rising 3000% from their March lows.