GE, Microsoft Discussed Buying Dow Jones (WSJ)
After News Corp.'s initial bid for Dow Jones came out, various other names were thrown out as possible competing bidders. Other than some other media firms, a few threw out exotic names like Google, although these predictions were widely panned. The Journal, however, is reporting that GE and Microsoft -- in a move hearkening back to MSNBC glory days -- considered putting together a joint bid for Dow Jones. GE is obviously eager to defend its CNBC franchise and the fear that Dow Jones + Fox Business is a potent threat is a real one (Fox Business alone will be a threat). As for Microsoft? Well, it's really hard to figure out what it's strategy is these days, so anything is possible. It seems at this point, anyway, there's no deal.
Kiwi dollar falls after RBNZ intervention (Thomson)
Those looking for a nice carry trade have been pushing the New Zealand dollar much higher, as interest rates in the nation approach 8%. But the government there is uncomfortable with the way its currency has been propelled higher by global traders, and has started intervening in the market, sending the Kiwi dollar down 2%. Like just about every other currency in the world, the currency is trading at an all-time USD high; it's been helped by three recent interest rate increases.
Google Intensifies Microsoft Fight (WSJ)
From time to time, Google has waved the antitrust stick at Microsoft, which is ironic, since Google seems to be doing just fine at everything it does, while Microsoft struggles to make a dent in/fend off Google's businesses. It seems that Google is complaining heavily about the way desktop search is handled in Microsoft's latest version of Windows, as it complains that the company has made it hard for third party search tools to be used, which, Google claims, is a violation of past antitrust agreements. All we have to say is that one day, and it may not be that far off, Google could regret anything it does to reawaken antitrust regulators in this country.
Limelight Shares Surge After IPO (AP)
There have been a lot of IPOs lately, but so far, the massive one-day pops that characterized IPOs during the bubble have been absent. On Friday, shares of Limelight (which is in the same general business as Akamai -- content delivery networks), surged by 48% once it hit the market. Although the company is still a money bleeder, it's hard to imagine a hotter area right now, as Akamai's soaring shares have demonstrated. Still, one first-day pop is nothing to be afraid of, just something to pay attention to see if it happens again soon.
Putin wants new economic "architecture" (IHT)
Perhaps realizing how badly he's damaged the business environment in Russia, Vladimir Putin is hoping to convince business that Russia represents a welcoming place for them and that they have nothing to fear. He did say, however, that Russia wouldn't play by today's "rules" of trade, as he argued for a system based on regional alliances. He added that existing global trade institutions were too dominated by developed economies (which may be true), though even if they're not, a decent case could be made that they're wholly unnecessary. The problem for Putin, of course, is that you can't un-piss in the pool.
The Poverty Platform (The New York Times)
Congratulations to the Times business section for getting to take over the Sunday magazine for one day. Typically, the business section is home to numerous articles about income inequality, but this week the whole magazine was devoted to this very, very, very tired subject. Get this: if you make decent money, you're really rich on a global scale, and yet there are some people even richer.
World Bank Targets Forest Preservation-Climate Link (WSJ)
The preferred method among folks like Al Gore and Laurie David for reducing their carbon footprint is to buy carbon sequestration credits. In other words, they estimate how much carbon they use up (private jets, limos, big houses, etc.), and then equalize it by planting trees that suck up the same amount of carbon. Now, going back to when Kyoto was taken seriously, there was a lot of talk about how developed countries could get credit towards their emissions goals by helping developing countries reduce their carbon emissions. A big question, then, is whether credit could be given, not for doing something, but for not doing something. So, if a developing country planned to clearcut a forest, but a developed country paid them to not do it, would the developed country get to count that as a carbon offset? Well, despite the lack of meaningful activity on the Kyoto front, the World Bank is looking to set up a fund simply for this purposes. In the grand scheme of things, $250 million isn't a lot, though it still seems like a lot for the purposes of telling countries not to develop lands.
Getting Rid of Poverty is Easy? (Mahalanobis)
It would seem that development economist Jeffrey Sachs has long ago (forgive us) jumped the shark. You can go back and watch that documentary on PBS, Commanding Heights, and hear Sachs talk about how developing countries need to embrace capitalism and markets in order to rise up. It's pretty fascinating and compelling. At some point, however, he switched over and basically became an advocate of foreign aid (though his type of foreign aid would be 'smarter' and better managed, of course). As such, he's become less and less compelling, though he seems to benefit from his own coat tails, back from when he was a highly respected, original thinker in the field.
TV's "Sopranos" ends in crescendo of ... nothing (Reuters)
We're not giving anything away, but if you believe that people are really canceling their HBO subscriptions in droves following last night's season ender, you might want to plug some new numbers into your Time Warner models.