Top Toyota exec to join Chrysler (AP)
This sounds like a pretty big win for Cerberus. Jim Press, the top executive as Toyota in North America, will jump ship to Chrysler. Press will become a chairman at Chrysler LLC, spearheading the company's sales and marketing efforts. While this is probably going to prove a plus for Chrysler, we're a little disappointed that they didn't get some manufacturing wizard from the company, since that remains Toyota's top strength.
N.J. Court Shoots Down HMO Vioxx Class-action Suit (Dow Jones)
Vioxx plaintiffs have been angling for awhile to bring class-action lawsuits against Merck, but Merck has been successful in making people sue the company on an individual basis. And so far it hasn't been too pretty. Basically, for the plaintiffs, it's like stepping up to be slaughtered. Merck has won yet another important case as the New Jersey supreme court ruled that no class-action suit could be formed in the state, keeping Merck's defense strategy intact.
Retail Sales Rise, but Data May Mask Troubles (NYT)
Yesterday we wondered how back to school sales could have pushed Wal-Mart's same-store sales up by 3%, given the fact that back to school shopping has been an annual event this time of year since time immemorial. Well, turns out, as we suspected, there may be more to the story. For one thing, Wal-Mart's been doing some heavy discounting lately, just to get people in the store. So a jump in sales may not correspond to any jump in profits for the month. And here's the more interesting part. Both Florida and Texas pushed back the start of their school year this year. In past years, back to school shopping started in July, but this year it started in August. So August borrowed some sales from the previous month, further inflating the numbers. It's just two states, but they're big ones, so that counts. Anyway, kudos to us for being skeptical right off the bat.
Goldman makes $300m from fund rescue (FT Alphaville)
It's good to be Goldman, that's for sure. Even in times like these. Word is that the company will net an additional $300 million in profits this quarter, as its Global Equity Opportunities hedge fund rallied strongly right after Goldman invested $2 billion of its own money into it. Talk about nice timing. External investors still got creamed, losing 20% of their investments, but Goldman's bailout of itself (er, it's doubling down) came right at the short-term bottom, providing a major boost to its own coffers. And that's why they're Goldman.
Producer buys the Chicago Fire (Variety)
Hollywood producer Andrew Hauptman has purchased the Chicago Fire of the MLS. C'mon, that story is at least as worthwhile as stories about who's buying the Chicago Cubs, no? Okay, maybe not at all.
Chinese Banks Told to Raise Reserves (Dealbook)
We'll say it once again -- we're pretty sure that China is finally going to cool its overheated economy with an increase in banking reserve requirements.
The Long Tail is Not That Long (Infectious Greed)
Perhaps no one idea has gotten more hype over the past few years than the so-called "long tail", the idea that when it comes to stuff like media, the internet will open new markets in niches that could never be monetized in the past. We're sure there's some validity to it. Amazon.com is the classic, canonical example of a market whereby obscure books, which Barnes & Noble could never justify devoting floor space to, get sold. But count us among the faithless, who don't see the long tail everywhere we look. According to one advertising expert who followed Tivo users, what people really want is to be able to watch popular content, whenever, wherever. So even with Tivo, there really aren't that many people watching G4 Tech Tv.
IPhone Owners Crying Foul Over Price Cut (NYT)
This is sort of old news, but the accompanying picture is just so awesome, especially in retrospect. Looks like something out of the anyone. Seriously though, Times, what up? What's the deal with your business section lately? It's like it's always two days behind.
Radio Silence (CrossingWallStreet)
We mentioned Crocs yesterday, so we thought we'd pass this along. Eddy Elfenbein was at a major money show in DC and saw a well-dressed woman wearing lime green Crocs. We're not sure what this means, but if hemlines are something that's important to follow, then maybe this should be too.
An Exploited Shaq (The Wages of Wins)
Turns out, that despite all of the money he's made, Shaquille O'Neal has been exploited by the teams he pays for, at least from a purely economic perspective. We're fans of the Big Aristotle here, so if you want to start a petition for Shaq to get a fair wage, then we'll sign up for that one.