Friday, June 28, 2013

White House Makes Shortlist for Bernanke’s job

From WSJ: The Obama administration is assembling a shortlist of candidates to lead the Federal Reserve, in the expectation that chairman Ben Bernanke won't seek reappointment when his second term at the central bank ends in January, according to people familiar with the matter.

The search is in the early stages and there is no front-runner, according to these people, who wouldn't divulge any names on the shortlist. A selection might not be announced until early fall, they said. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew is putting together the list, working with senior White House officials.

Oops! BlackBerry Shares Plunge After Touch-Screen Model Flops

From Bloomberg:  BlackBerry (BBRY)’s shares tumbled the most since 2001 after the company reported a surprise loss and weak sales of a new touch-screen model, underscoring its challenges in competing directly with the iPhone and Android devices.

The company shipped 6.8 million smartphones last quarter, including about 2.7 million new BlackBerry 10 models -- primarily its flagship Z10 touch-screen phone. Analysts had estimated total shipments of 7.5 million, with about 3.6 million BlackBerry 10 units. The Waterloo, Ontario-based company also blamed Venezuela’s currency controls for a portion of its quarterly loss because they hurt Latin American revenue.

BlackBerry is struggling to break out of its strength in keyboard phones, which are still popular among some lawyers and professionals but not as sought-after as the iPhone or smartphones based on Google Inc.Android. Today’s stock tumble more than wiped out its gains for the year, signaling that investors may have been too optimistic about BlackBerry’s ability to wage a comeback fight against touch-screen rivals.

Holy Crap! Vatican priest arrested for plot to smuggle $26 million

From the AP: A Vatican official has been arrested by Italian police for allegedly trying to illegally bring $26 million in cash into the country from Switzerland with a private jet.  Prosecutor Nello Rossi says Monsignor Nunzio Scarano is accused of corruption and slander stemming from the plot and was being held at a Rome prison.

He was allegedly asked by friends to bring back the money that had been given to financier Giovanni Carenzio in Switzerland. Scarano is supposed to have asked Giovanni Zito, a military official, to bring the money back by jet, avoiding customs....

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Not-So-Good, The Bad And The Very Ugly: Erdogan’s Paranoia and Turkey’s Economy

According to Bloomberg the protests roiling Istanbul, which started in May and have already begun to dwindle, were never an Arab-style spring. The Turkish government, however, now risks turning them into a very real political and economic winter. A hunt has begun for the culprits in a supposed international conspiracy, including banks and news media, which the government claims to have orchestrated the protests. Depending on how far this Orwellian investigation goes, it may have a bigger impact on Turkey’s future than the unrest itself.

The head of Turkey’s Capital Markets Board confirmed June 26 that his staff had begun an investigation into stock-market volatility during the protests. According to traders in Istanbul, the demands to hand over all e-mail traffic with foreigners, among other records, are unprecedented. The board’s assurances that such investigations are routine might be easier to accept if Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan hadn’t promised to “choke” those he believes to have engineered the protests in order to cause a stock-market collapse….

Goldman Sends Employees on $270,000 Scavenger Hunt

NYMagazine’s Kevin Roose reports: It's always been presumed (by me) that when Goldman Sachs employees are in the running to be named partners at the firm, they're sent on a brutal, globe-spanning Amazing Race–style test of physical abilities, where they face challenges like scaling Kilimanjaro wearing only a fur-lined Zegna suit and traversing the Gobi Desert with a summer intern strapped to their backs.
So it's a bit of a relief that the actual test Goldman employees took on last fall — an epic fifteen-hour scavenger hunt that involved 180 of the firm's employees — was more cerebral than physically grueling.

Quartz's Euny Hong embedded with a team from the Goldman commodities desk during "Midnight Madness," a massive all-night hunt that took twenty teams around New York City for a series of complex brain-teaser challenges. (The name is an homage to a bad 1980 Disney movie.) The hunt cost $270,000 in total and was financed by Goldman Sachs Gives, the firm's partner-led charity….

Commodity 'Super-Cycle' Suspended, Not Ending

From Kitco News: Another tough day at the office for metals continues to fuel questions about whether or not the “commodity super-cycle” over the last decade is coming to an end.  Driven largely by Chinese appetite for commodities, the 2000s saw a commodities boom with both precious and base metals prices rising to record highs.  With sharp drops across the metals board in the last three months, some analysts have begun to believe this commodities boom, dubbed the “commodities super-cycle,” is at an end….

Paula Deen Dumped By Home Depot, Novo Nordisk; Target, Sears, QVC Next

One day you’re queen of the kitchen, the next you’re roadkill….Forbes reports that as Wal-Mart goes, so goes the nation. Or, at least, so go two more lucrative Paula Deen business partnerships.  The world’s largest retail chain cut ties with Deen on Wednesday, as did casino giant Caesars Entertainment CZR +3.25%, which operates four Deen-themed restaurants.

….Novo Nordisk is the sixth company to end their Deen endorsement deal. A company spokesperson told Forbes they’d consider getting back into business with her once she’s regained the trust of her audience. “It does leave us with an option,” said Novo Nordisk’s Ken Inchausti, “but she needs to focus on rebuilding her relationship with the public.”