Saturday, December 27, 2008

Top Media & Marketing Innovations of 2008

Top Media & Marketing Innovations of 2008:
"Sponsor in Aisle Five!
Shopper marketing may never be the same. Wal-Mart, the largest U.S. retailer, this year led the way with the rollout of its in-store digital network, the Wal-Mart Smart Network. Powered by Internet Protocol Television, content, ads and merchandising can be monitored and controlled down to a single screen. Even as scores of video networks pop up, this represents a new paradigm, offering a level of precision targeting never before seen. Instead of relying on shelf-talkers and end-of-aisle displays to promote products, the Wal-Mart net creates a dynamic, interactive dialogue between marketer and consumer. (While utilizing the latest technology, the network also is a real throwback in terms of customer service, taking shoppers back to a time when the store clerk knew every item and could help the customer make informed decisions on the spot.) Operated by Premier Retail Networks, the network is the result of two years and $10 million in research aimed at the optimal content and placement of screens for engaging consumers at the point-of-purchase. Up and running in 300 stores in time for the holiday season, Wal-Mart anticipates chain-wide deployment (2,700 U.S. outposts) by early 2010. -Katy Bachman"

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Real Story of Cyber Monday: A View Into Actual Consumer Engagement - MarketWatch

from MarketWatch:
. . .,, and were the most visited retail sites on Cyber Monday

"On Cyber Monday, the most popular shopping websites received substantial increases in average clicks per user, suggesting that users were more engaged shoppers on that particular day. had the biggest increase with more than 145 times the average clicks per user. The top two shopping websites on Cyber Monday ( and were on the bottom of the list for average user clicks per site.

Wal-Mart launching takeover of Chile retailer D&S | Industries | Consumer Products & Retail | Reuters

UPDATE 2-Wal-Mart launching takeover of Chile retailer

"SANTIAGO, Dec 19 (Reuters) - U.S. retailing mammoth Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N) said on Friday it launched an all-cash offer to buy Chile's biggest supermarket chain, D&S DIS.SN(DYS.N), setting itself up to gain a major foothold in one of Latin America's most competitive retail markets.

D&S, Chile's biggest supermarket chain, said in a statement to the Chilean bourse late on Friday that the offer would be made within 10 days and was for $0.408 per share. It was being made in the name of Inversiones Australes Tres Limitada, a unit of Wal-Mart."

Google Ad Server share now at 57%. Microhoo less than 15% market share.

from Attributor Blog
"December 18, 2008 @ 8:00 am
The Google ad serving juggernaut appears secure even if Microsoft and Yahoo agree on a deal to merge their search advertising businesses. Our analysis of ad server calls across 75 million domains shows that both Yahoo and Microsoft lost significant share compared to our March report and now make up less than 15% of the total market.

The explosion of new ad networks in 2008 had an impact, but only one newcomer - Revenue Science- broke into the top 5. Unsurprisingly, Google’s AdSense is dominant on smaller sites while Google-owned DoubleClick leads on larger sites; however AdSense made great strides on larger sites, leapfrogging Yahoo into 2nd place."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Can Google Crack the Mobile Advertising Nut?

Technology News: M-Commerce:
"Earlier this week, Google announced it's pushing its AdWords program onto the mobile platform. Sponsors will be able to show their advertisements on handhelds like the iPhone, the T-Mobile Latest News about T-Mobile G1, and others that use full HTML browsers without having to redesign the ads specifically for mobile devices. The advertisers can even get feedback specifically on mobile ads to check a campaign's status.

Google has the potential to jump-start the mobile advertising market, which has had a slow takeoff. In addition to its recent AdWords effort, it's also deployed mobile search applications to popular smartphones like the iPhone, not to mention the fact that it has its own mobile software system, Android, through which it could presumably offer any number of creative advertising ventures. However, the company faces many challenges in its attempt to reshape the mobile sector."

Friday, December 12, 2008

SMS Text Messaging for G chat

Official Gmail Blog: Really new in Labs this time: SMS Text Messaging for chat:
"How often do you try to chat with somebody and they don't respond because they just walked away from their computer? Or maybe you're in the middle of chatting with them just as they need to leave. But you still need to tell them something -- something really important like you've moved where you're meeting...or ice cream! We need ice cream! This is why we built a way to chat with your friends even when they're away from their computers. Now you can keep the conversations going with a new Labs feature that lets you send SMS text messages right from Gmail. It combines the best parts of IM and texting: you chat from the comfort of your computer, and your friends can peck out replies on their little keyboards."

Chrome Comes Out of Beta with 10 Million Users

Chrome Comes Out of Beta with 10 Million Users:
"As was reported yesterday, Google’s browser Chrome is coming out of beta — a mere 100 days after it was introduced. When I commented to Sundar Pichai, Product VP, that this had to be one of the fastest exits from beta for Google in recent memory he explained that “Google has a very traditional approach to our client software products,” meaning it accelerates the process of getting them to a general release."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Recessions give space for new ideas to flourish

from :
. . .
While the economic effects of recession can be dire, in the long term the effect on work and working habits can be positive."
. . .

So what impact will the current recession have on work over the next decade?
. . .

First, while the focus is still on shoring up finance and the economy, in time we will begin to question the prevailing norms of leadership and decision-making. The dominant “command and control” leadership style that allows a chief executive such as Richard Fuld at Lehman Brothers unilaterally to make decisions about the whole company will increasingly come under scrutiny. If the crowd is indeed wise, why do we put our faith in the decisions and knowledge of a tiny fraction of people?
. . .
Next, past recessions have often served to accelerate the development of practices and processes that had limited popularity pre-recession. Before the 1990s recession, for example, off-shoring was seen to be too complex and difficult an option. It was only with the cost imperatives of the recession that off-shoring was initially pushed and then eventually became a norm, later to be broadened and deepened into its current application. The same is true of group-ware technologies, which have had limited uptake as people said they would prefer to meet face to face. Now, however, those who last year would have jumped on a plane to attend meetings have had their travel budgets slashed. They are being forced to use video conferencing and webcasts. . . . . Others, however, will have fundamentally changed their habits and begun to build working communities that are virtual.

Finally, the 2008-2009 recession will profoundly change the way occupations are seen. Each previous recession has had some impact on perceptions. The 1990s recession slowed the rush to technology and start-ups. The current one may well have the same impact on banking, which has been a huge magnet for talent. The upside would be that our most talented youngsters might look to more than just investment banking for a career.

Recessions are a time of destruction of the old order, a time when assumptions are questioned and nascent practices and ideas are given space to flourish. That is little cheer for now but, in the longer term, an enormous stimulus for change.

King Google

from BuzzMachine

Via TechCrunch, here’s a good PPT outlining the continued primacy of Google across its various products and lines of business:"
All about Google
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: google strategy)

Sunday, December 07, 2008

2008 Video Search Year In Review

2008 Video Search Year In Review
"The big TV networks haven’t given up on their own sites, but in 2008, some networks have started to embrace YouTube. CBS, in a very resourceful move, recently announced a partnership with YouTube to stream full length episodes of popular shows like “MacGyver.” MGM has also reached an agreement to post movies on YouTube. Between funny skateboarding accidents and full-length episodes of MacGyver, I don’t think I’ll ever leave YouTube."

2008 Video Search Year In Review

2008 Video Search Year In Review
"YouTube rolls out a new ad-model. Recently, YouTube internal search results have started to look a little more like results. Google has used AdWords functionality to allow advertisers to bid on YouTube search terms that trigger ads to appear in the “sponsored video” section of the YouTube search results. For example, an advertiser selling first aid products might benefit from bidding on the “funny skateboarding accidents” phrase. Unlike, clicking on the ad keeps the user on the YouTube domain, where they see a featured video from the advertiser. This channel could be particularly effective for studios promoting movie trailers, companies bringing a new product to market, and brand advertisers like car manufacturers wanting to showcase products. 2009 will tell if sponsored video becomes the effective YouTube ad model that advertisers have been craving."

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Google Sorts One Petabyte Of Data In 6 Hours - Analytics - InformationWeek

Google Sorts One Petabyte Of Data In 6 Hours - Analytics - InformationWeek
"According to last Friday's Official Google Blog, the Google (NSDQ: GOOG) Systems Infrastructure Team has sorted a record 1 terabyte of data on 1,000 computers in only 68 seconds, which breaks the previous mark of 209 seconds established in July by Yahoo.

Team leader Grzegorz Czajkowski wrote that the team followed the rules of a standard terabyte sort benchmark and used Google's MapReduce software framework that supports parallel computations over large (multiple petabyte) data sets on clusters of computers. Yahoo's effort had featured a 910-node cluster, and used Hadoop, an open-source MapReduce implementation.

The sort benchmark, which was created in 1998 by computer scientist Jim Gray, specifies the input data (10 billion 100-byte records in uncompressed text files), which must be completely sorted and written to disk. Not content with just rewriting the record book, the Google team then decided to up the ante in sorting massive volumes of data."
. . .
One petabyte is a thousand terabytes, or roughly 12 times the amount of archived Web data in the U.S. Library of Congress as of May 2008. One way to put that amount in perspective, according to Czajkowski, is to consider that the aggregate size of data processed by all instances of MapReduce at Google was, on average, 20 PB per day in January 2008. A paper explaining MapReduce on the Google labs site says that the upwards of one thousand MapReduce jobs are executed on Google's clusters every day. So the infrastructure team's MapReduce job that extended the benchmark factors out to 50 typical MapReduce jobs, or one-twentieth the total of all daily MapReduce jobs run on Google's clusters.

Google v Microsoft

Microsoft Loses Internet Ground, Or Not? - Microsoft Blog - InformationWeek:

"Do the hit counters at ComScore have a different take on this situation? The Seattle Post-Intelligencer quotes a ComScore study that shows Microsoft's search share holding steady. However, that refers to October versus September search share. If you eyeball the one-year graph in that story, you'll see essentially the same decline that Neilsen found.

Beneath these two contradictory headlines, there is actually some consistent data. Microsoft has lost about 20 percent of its market share in the past year, but in recent months has seemed to stop the bleeding. Yahoo has even managed a slight uptick in searches over the past two months. It makes you wonder whether the now-unlikely merger of these two would make any difference when both are so far behind Google."

Op-Ed Contributor - How to Publish Without Perishing -

Op-Ed Contributor - How to Publish Without Perishing -

"One could imagine the book, venerable as it is, just vanishing into the ether. It melts into all the other information species searchable through Google’s most democratic of engines: the Web pages, the blogs, the organs of printed and broadcast news, the general chatter. (Thanks for everything, Gutenberg, and now goodbye.)

But I don’t see it that way. I think, on the contrary, we’ve reached a shining moment for this ancient technology. Publishers may or may not figure out how to make money again (it was never a good way to get rich), but their product has a chance for new life: as a physical object, and as an idea, and as a set of literary forms."

A Maturing Google Buckles Down and Searches for Cost Savings - Advertising Age - Digital

A Maturing Google Buckles Down and Searches for Cost Savings - Advertising Age - Digital:

"NEW YORK (AdAge) -- The recession is reverberating even in the freewheeling halls of the Googleplex.

Proving that even the search giant isn't immune from the vagaries of the economy, Google is cutting its 10,000-strong contract staff, nixing some new products that won't pay back in the near term and aggressively trying to squeeze more out of existing revenue streams."

Google's Plan for Mobile Domination | Fast Company

Scobleizer: Google's Plan for Mobile Domination | Fast Company:
"In January, California will join the states that have made it illegal to text while driving. Google's voice-powered service, GOOG-411, is great for hands-free access to local information. Call 800-GOOG-411 and the system prompts you to tell it where you are and what you want. You can even have it send directions via a text message."

worth the click for more details

Monday, December 01, 2008

It's not Chrome v Firefox, it's Google v Microsoft

Free standards based at the last mile = controlling the screen.

Media News - European Journalism Centre:
"Google is considering pre-installing its Chrome browser on personal computers in the search giant's latest challenge to the dominance of Microsoft's Internet Explorer. The move would significantly ramp up the browser war that Google launched against Microsoft when it launched Chrome in September, in the battle to dominate how users access and interact with the web"

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Wal-Mart, FedEx, Lenovo Discuss Supply Chain Sustainability � Environmental Leader � Green Business, Sustainable Business, and Green Strategy News for

Wal-Mart, FedEx, Lenovo Discuss Supply Chain Sustainability
"Executives from Waste Management, FedEx and Lenovo discuss sustainability and the supply chain at Wal-Mart’s Sustainability Summit in Beijing, China."

Go the links for 3 8 minutes videos

T Wal-Mart buys wind energy, plans to power 360 Texas stores

The Daily Texan - News Briefly: Wal-Mart buys wind energy, plans to power 360 Texas stores: "rt to become more eco-friendly, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. made its first substantial wind energy purchase Thursday with plans to integrate the power into 360 Texas stores and facilities by April 2009.

Wal-Mart purchased the wind-generated energy from Duke Energy Corp., a Charlotte, N.C., electric-power company. The electricity will come from a wind farm constructed by the energy company near Ector and Winkler counties in West Texas. According to Wal-Mart press releases, the farm, called the Notrees Windpower Project, will be complete by the end of 2008. The wind farm will generate 226 million kilowatt hours, enough energy to power more than 20,000 average American homes annually."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

WalMart and Local Economies

La Voz Nueva - News & entertainment for Hispanics in Denver, Colorado - noticias para Hispanos
"Retailer stocks shelves with locally grown holiday favorites
BENTONVILLE, Ark., Nov. 25 /PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE/ -- While the economic climate continues to be a concern for local farmers, Walmart is continuing its effort to help local agriculture business by continuing partnerships with small farms and stocking shelves with locally grown items.
In-store seasonal facts:

-- Walmart sells locally grown pumpkins in 27 states - more than half the country - making Walmart the largest local pumpkin distributor in the U.S.

-- Customers in 17 states, including North Carolina and Utah, can purchase locally grown apples for their homemade holiday apple pie.

-- Walmart works with 50 small cranberry growers through Ocean Spray to bring local cranberries to customers in Washington and Massachusetts, among others.

-- Walmart offers local sweet potatoes in seven states including Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana. Sweet potatoes are grown in southern states due to specific climate needs.

"Our partnership with Walmart has allowed us the opportunity to grow our business and expand our acreage," said Greg Nix, Apple Wedge Farms, a Walmart apple supplier. "It's great to know that a company as big as Walmart is focused on local agriculture business especially at a time when many industries are struggling."

Walmart's locally grown offerings go beyond the produce aisle. Walmart offers locally grown poinsettias - the traditional plant of choice for decorating and gift giving during the holiday season - in Garden Centers in 20 states across the country.

-- Walmart stores in North Carolina sell poinsettias from Metrolina Greenhouses, Inc., a Huntersville-based greenhouse. Metrolina invests extensively in research and development to produce plants that are grown in environmentally friendly greenhouses.

-- Florida customers will see locally grown poinsettias from Sunshine Growers. Sunshine Growers gives a portion of their poinsettia sales to local charities, churches, schools and nursing homes.

Reports: Wal-Mart To Sell iPhone Starting Dec. 28

Mac News Update -
"New reports suggest discount retail giant Wal-Mart will begin selling the iPhone Dec. 28, a move raising some eyebrows while also expanding Apple’s retail strategy, according to other experts. An AT&T memo obtained by the Boy Genius Report outlined plans to offer the iPhone first in select Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club locations, followed by nationwide availability [...]"

World Prout Assembly: Let Walmart do it!

World Prout Assembly: Let Walmart do it!: "Let Walmart do it!

1. At WalMart, Americans spend $36,000,000 every hour of every day.

2. This works out to $20,928 profit every minute!

3. WalMart will sell more from January 1 to St. Patrick's Day (March 17th) than Target sells all year.

4. WalMart is bigger than Home Depot Kroger Target Sears Costco K-Mart combined.

5. WalMart employs 1..6 million people and is the largest private employer. And most can't speak English.

6. WalMart is the largest company in the history of the World.

7. WalMart now sells more food than Kroger & Safeway combined, and keep in mind they did this in only 15 years.

8. During this same period, 31 Supermarket chains sought bankruptcy (including Winn-Dixie).

9. WalMart now sells more food than any other store in the world.

10. WalMart has approx 3,900 stores in the USA of which 1,906 are SuperCenters; this is 1,000 more than it had 5 years ago.

11. This year, 7.2 billion different purchasing experiences will occur at a WalMart store. (Earth's population is approximately 6.5 billion.)

12. 90% of all Americans live within 15 miles of a WalMart.

13. Let WalMart bail out Wall Street and the auto industry!!!"

International Retail Guru Michael Duke to Replace Lee Scott as Wal-Mart CEO

International Retail Guru Michael Duke to Replace Lee Scott as Wal-Mart CEO:

"Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) has announced that H. Lee Scott Jr., 59, will be stepping down as the retail giant’s chief executive officer, effective Feb. 1. He will be succeeded by Michael “Mike” T. Duke, 58, head of the company’s overseas operations.
. . .

Duke is currently head of the Wal-Mart’s international division, which goes a long way toward explaining his ascension. International expansion will pay a very large part in Wal-Mart’s future growth, and under Duke’s stewardship the company’s global presence has grown markedly.

Duke said in June that overseas revenue could eclipse $100 billion for the first time in the fiscal year that ends Jan. 31. International sales, which account for about one quarter of the Wal-Mart’s business, totaled $90.6 billion in 2007.

International sales could jump 9.3% in the year starting February

Citizen WalMart

VA�U€$�–�The Blog:
"It was not long ago that nobody interested in making a better world would ever have a good thing to say about WalMart, the giant American retailer, and owner of Asda in the UK. Yet speaker after speaker praised WalMart at the Economist conference on corporate citizenship that Matthew has just moderated in San Francisco."

Wal-Mart Aggressively Courts Mommy Bloggers — Commercial Alert

Wal-Mart Aggressively Courts Mommy Bloggers — Commercial Alert:
"Eleven Moms Weigh in on P&G, Coke, Campbell Brands

Over the weekend of Nov. 15-16, Katja Presnal was a key figure in the public flogging of Motrin and its parent Johnson & Johnson on Twitter, creating a YouTube video that showed dozens of tweets castigating its babywearing ad.

By Nov. 21, she was blogging in an entirely different way. Ms. Presnal was preparing a blog post in her role as one of Wal-Mart Stores’ Eleven Moms panel of mommy bloggers behind the planned Nov. 24 unveiling of “Salon Secret,” which turns out to be Procter & Gamble Co.’s Pantene.

The idea was to have the mommy bloggers, who had attended a trip to Wal-Mart’s Bentonville, Ark., headquarters last month, be treated with an unnamed “salon brand,” to be revealed as Pantene. A sampling site for the launch notes that 70% of salon-brand users prefer the mystery brand.

Power of mommy bloggers
Ms. Presnal, who runs the online retail site and SkimbacoLifestyle blog, is a one-woman embodiment of the best and worst that mommy bloggers can offer marketers."

The Multi Polar World / Columnists / Gideon Rachman - Is America’s new declinism for real?

"The latest report, published on November 20, has made headlines around the world. The front page of Britain’s Guardian newspaper shouted “2025: the end of US dominance”. For once, the headline is broadly accurate. As the NIC frankly notes, “the most dramatic difference” between the new report and the one issued four years ago is that it now foresees “a world in which the US plays a prominent role in global events, but the US is seen as one among many global actors”. The report issued four years ago had projected “continuing US dominance”."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

from the Central Intelligence Agency

Toward a Complex Adaptive Intelligence Community —
"The compressed response cycle gives the United States significant strategic and tactical superiority over our adversaries. Our national security is best protected when we operate more quickly than those who would do harm to our people and our freedom. This compressed response time allows us to disrupt, interdict, preempt, and respond to injurious efforts before our adversaries can achieve their goals against us.

This compression is not just a preferred work style within the US national security community. It is characteristic of the way the world works in the 21st century. Thus, not only do we respond more quickly, but also the circumstances to which we respond—in and of themselves— develop more quickly. These rapidly changing circumstances take on lives of their own, which are difficult or impossible to anticipate or predict. The US national security community— and the Intelligence Community (IC) within it—is faced with the question of how to operate in a security environment that, by its nature, is changing rapidly in ways we cannot predict. A simple answer is that the Intelligence Community, by its nature, must change rapidly in ways we cannot predict."

From the Buzz Machine

Guardian column: The Google economy:

My Guardian column this week argues that we’re witnessing not just the collapse of the financial (and auto and newspaper…) industries but the birth of a new economy best seen through - you guessed it - the lens of Google:

The financial crisis might be damaging countless companies around the world, but last month Google announced another quarter of growth, with profit up 26%. When it reported similar results two quarters before, The New York Times’ headline proclaimed, “Google defies economy.” It should have read, “Google defines economy.”"

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Pay for Performance..What a simple idea!

Pinstorm is the Reddest Herring!:
"Indian firm chosen among “Asia’s Hottest” three times in four years.

Pinstorm, the world’s leading pay-for-performance digital marketing firm has been selected by Red Herring Magazine to their list of Asia’s 200 Hottest companies for 2008. This is Pinstorm’s third appearance in the list, having graced it earlier in 2005 & 2006. Pinstorm has the distinction of being perhaps the only firm in the world to be selected thrice in four years.

The Red Herring Award is bestowed by Silicon Valley-based Red Herring magazine after evaluating the business model, analysing profitability forecasts, and assessing the management team.

Mahesh Murthy, Founder, Pinstorm said “Colour us red with joy. We first won when we were barely 20 people working out of one office. Today we are over 120 from 7 offices in 6 countries - and it’s a thrill to know that the world sees us just as hot as ever. Our pay-for-performance model is revolutionizing advertising both on the search and display fronts - and we hope to continue this hot streak for a long time to come”, Mahesh Murthy added."

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Google (GOOG) Is Benefiting From the Wal-Mart Effect - Piper Jaffray
"October 17, 2008 9:14 AM EDT

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster commented on Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) after better-than-expected earnings results from the seach giant after the close, saying the company is benefiting from the 'Wal-Mart' effect that consumers will be searching more for bargains in tough economy.

Munster said, "The bottom line is the "Wal-Mart" effect in combination with our research which suggests advertisers are shifting from non measurable (display) to measurable (search) advertising, leads us to believe Google is positioned to resist the economic slowdown over the next year. While the Google results showed the September quarter was intact, investors could have lingering concerns that business slowed in the month of September. However, Hal Vairan, Chief Economist at Google, speculated on the earnings call that Google could benefit from a "Wal-Mart Effect" in the tougher economy, which leads us to believe that while not immune to economic slowdown, Google's business is resistant to a slowdown. The company described the "Wal-Mart" effect as consumers searching more for bargains due to a tougher economy. We believe it is reasonable that such an effect exists and note that it supports our thesis that advertisers will continue to buy keywords on Google because the customers will continue to be there."

Wal-Mart looks to Chinese cities in hinterlands | Seattle Times Newspaper

Seattle Times Newspaper:
"LOUDI, China — Maoming, Wuhu and Loudi.

They're Chinese cities so far in the boonies that Lonely Planet doesn't even bother to mention them in its popular travel guide. But Wal-Mart has found them as part of the company's aggressive push into China's smaller markets.

China's economic growth is rapidly spreading out from the main cities like Beijing and Shanghai into the hinterlands, where the middle class is taking off. In a report last year, the consulting firm A.T. Kearney said 75 percent of the middle market is expected to be in tier-two and tier-three cities by 2017.

These cities are 'small' only by the standards of a country with 1.3 billion people. For example, Wuhu in eastern China has 2.3 million people, and Maoming in the south has 6.8 million, providing a strong consumer base as incomes rise."

Wal-Mart Wins, Everybody Else Loses

from TrafficCourt:
"Sales at department stores and specialty retailers are in free fall. They are cutting staff, discounting merchandise and closing stores to survive. But even as the financial turmoil strangled discretionary spending at many stores, it sent struggling consumers into the arms of Wal-Mart — and left it, the world’s largest retailer, poised for a blockbuster Christmas.

“In my mind, there is no doubt that this is Wal-Mart time,” H. Lee Scott Jr., the company’s president and chief executive, said recently at a meeting of analysts and investors in Wal-Mart’s hometown, Bentonville, Ark. Referring to the discount chain’s founder, he added, “This is the kind of environment that Sam Walton built this company for.”"

Wal-Mart + CD Sales

AC/DC Charts Despite Wal-Mart Exclusive

"Fans have only three ways to buy AC/DC's Black Ice album: Wal-Mart, its sister chain Sam's Club or But that hasn't stopped the CD from selling like gangbusters, with over a million copies sold in its first two weeks domestically.

Columbia Records says it has shipped over 5.3 million copies of the album worldwide to date, making this the number one album in Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Argentina, Canada and Spain in addition to the US"

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Job to job retraining in Finland

UPM to start "From job to job" programme in Kajaani and Valkeakoski in Finland
"PM has today announced that it will close down Kajaani paper mill and Tervasaari pulp mill in Finland by the end of the year. In order to alleviate the impacts of redundancy UPM will start a
'From Job to Job' programme in both locations. The programme includes, in cooperation with authorities and partner companies, active measures to support finding a new job and retraining.

UPM will support re-employment training of employees who have been given notice. UPM has reserved EUR 1.5 million to support the participation and material costs for retraining at a rate of up to EUR 5,000 per person.

In addition, UPM will encourage affected personnel to create new businesses by offering start-up support. The company has booked EUR 1 million for this purpose. UPM's start-up support can be applied until the end of 2010. Maximum support for business is EUR 20,000.

In order to relieve the situation in Kajaani where the mill will be closed, UPM will extend the re-employment obligation for local employees from 9 months, obligated by law, to 15 months. UPM is committed to inform employees given notice about the company's vacancies to their home addresses and employment authorities at all the company's mill locations 9 months beyond the above mentioned time period."

Monday, November 03, 2008

Wal-Mart v Apple . . . and DRM

Walmart's MP3 Store VS Apple iTunes

"Last month Walmart gave consumers the number 1 reason why DRM isn't the answer when they announced that they would be shutting down their DRM server come October 9th. Since then, Walmart relaunched it's online music store on Tuesday. The new music store offers the latest hits at only $.79 per song, while standard songs are offered at $.94. With competitive pricing options Walmart could give iTunes stiff competition."

Workforce and Economic Opportunity Initiative

The Beaufort Gazette: Wal-Mart grant fires up green construction program at TCL:

"TCL will begin using the grant money this year to train instructors and develop a curriculum. Classes and workshops will begin in fall 2009, and Feight said green principles will be integrated into all programs.

TCL is one of 20 technical and community colleges nationwide to receive the grant, which Wal-Mart awarded though its Workforce and Economic Opportunity Initiative.

Students will learn that though the initial cost of LEED-certified buildings can be higher than traditional methods, green buildings often provide better air and water quality and are often cheaper to maintain because they require less energy, according to the Green Building Council.

The initiative targets rural or isolated communities and aims to enhance development by encouraging local businesses, colleges and community organizations to work together, according to a news release from the Wal-Mart Foundation."

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Wal-Mart Investment through 2010

Wal-Mart View: Big Plans Abroad, Small U.S. Stores - "Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said it will continue emphasizing international expansion, particularly in emerging markets such as Brazil, as it trims U.S. growth, company officials said on Tuesday.

A day after declaring that it will curtail openings of its traditional U.S. stores and focus more on remodeling existing locations, the world's largest retailer by sales laid out a vision for growth during the second half of a two-day conference with investment analysts.

Wal-Mart officials forecast that they will add approximately 19% less square footage in the coming year compared with a year earlier, with much of the reduction coming from the U.S. In all, Wal-Mart expects to add 34 to 36 million square feet of retail space in the fiscal year starting in February, compared with 42 to 43 million square feet of retail space globally in the current fiscal year, ending Jan. 31.

Wal-Mart, which has benefited from the global downturn thanks to its economies of scale and lower prices, reiterated it felt well-positioned to prosper in the current economy.

"This company will emerge from this time a tougher competitor," Wal-Mart Chief Executive Lee Scott said.

Still, company officials detailed plans to transform into a different kind of discount retailer by focusing more on smaller stores than in the past. Wal-Mart has been executing that shift for the past three years, officials noted, well before the economy soured.

Analysts generally seemed to approve Wal-Mart's moves. Some predicted that by focusing on sprucing up older locations, the retailer may be poised to hold on to some of the new customers it has attracted during the downturn.

"The strained consumer environment has driven sustained traffic from core customers and new traffic from affluent shoppers, which could prove sticky if executives are able to maintain and enhance the customer experience," Goldman Sachs analyst Adrianne Shapira wrote in a note to investors.

Wal-Mart stock rose 11%, or $5.50, to $55.17 Tuesday in 4 p.m. New York Stock Exchange composite trading.

Over the next five years, Wal-Mart said it will devote 53% of its international spending to emerging markets such as Brazil and India, up from 33% in the previous five years, with the remainder going to mature markets such as Canada and the U.K.

Wal-Mart also said it remains committed to succeeding in Japan, a plan that was criticized by analysts a year ago. The retailer said it is on pace to post its first operating profit in Japan this fiscal year.

Though Wal-Mart said it remains bullish on international expansion, overall capital spending, including adding new stores and remodeling existing ones, was projected to rise only slightly, to $4.8 to 5.3 billion in the year ending January 2010, from the current year's $4.5 billion to $4.8 billion.

Citizens Community Bancorp + Wal Mart

Citizens Community Bancorp to Open Six In-Store Branches at Wal-Mart Supercenters in 2009 - MarketWatch
"EAU CLAIRE, Wis., Oct 30, 2008 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Citizens Community Bancorp, Inc., the holding company for Citizens Community Federal, today announced that it has signed an agreement with Wal-Mart to open six branches during 2009 in Wal-Mart Supercenters in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

The company will open Citizens Community Federal branches in the following Wal-Mart Supercenter locations:
-- Menomonie, Wis.;
-- Neenah, Wis.;
-- Plover, Wis.;
-- Shawano, Wis.;
-- Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.; and
-- Oak Park Heights, Minn.
Said Tim Cruciani, executive vice president of Citizens Community Bancorp, Inc., 'We're very excited to continue our expansion into Wal-Mart retail locations in 2009. These new branches will provide our customers the opportunity to do their banking and shopping in one, convenient location--with expanded hours and services to fulfill their banking needs. Citizens' continued transition into Wal-Mart Supercenters is consistent with our targeted expansion strategy and offers the potential for deposit and loan growth.'"

Wal-Mart + iPhone website

Wal-Mart announces a custom iPhone website

"Users surfing to will be automatically redirected to the iPhone version of the web site if they are using an iPhone.

Once on the site, users have an option to browse either Wal-Mart’s products or services on the very well-done and attractive site. The product section is well designed, and allows shoppers to browse Wal-Mart’s products, see what items are online, and even find which stores have it in stock as well.

The only caveat is that you cannot buy items on the iPhone site and are instead directed to the non-iPhone site to do so. There is also a Store Finder option that allows you to find the nearest store that works on the site too. Excellent idea indeed for those with the Wal-Mart itch."

The physical side of Google

A view from India. . . The Hindu News

"The book also deals properly with the physical side of building adigital empire. Early on, Google chose as its hardware 'a system cobbledtogether with inexpensive PC components' rather than more costly specialist equipment. This was a clever, counter-intuitive decision, the first ofmany. Google's racks of cheap servers could easily be expanded or othersadded. The company then set about placing them as close to its potentialcustomers as possible. Stross explains: 'As fast as electrons travel,physical distance still affects [online] response speed... Reducing [it]by even a fraction of a second mattered to users, as Google discovered whenit ran experiments to see if users noticed a difference between [a wait of]0.9 seconds [and one of] 0.4 seconds... Users were conspicuously more likely to grow bored and leave the Google site after waiting thatinterminable 0.9 seconds.

As quick and pragmatic as its customers, Google spent the early years ofthis decade securing premises across America for its servers: first incommercial spaces desperate for tenants after the 2001 dotcom crash, thenin its own purpose-built "data centres". Such was the surging demand forits services, and the amount of power the company was consuming as aresult, the first such facility was established in a town with its ownhydro-electric power station.

Whether Web users will remain satisfied for many more years with thelong shaggy lists of online sources that Google offers them is a question,frustratingly, that Stross does not properly answer. He does outline themenace to the company posed by the highly successful social networking siteFacebook, "a miniature Web universe - behind a wall, inaccessible to Google". And he lists other threats. Google's copyright dispute with publishers over its desire to make all books electronically searchable remains unresolved. Google's ad revenue may shrink, and no longer be sufficient to subsidise all its other, more experimental activities.

Follow the Money

Perhaps Anticipating Reform Health Money Swings to Dems

"Widely perceived to be one of the nation's biggest challenges, health care reform will be at the top of the next administration's agenda, and a battle over proposed changes is certain. For the past 15 years, the health sector, which is already gearing up for next year's fight, has given more money to Republicans than Democrats. But with Democrats in control of Congress-and likely to pick up a few more seats next week-the tide is turning. Out of the $123 million contributed by the drug manufacturers, doctors, HMOs, hospitals and other interests in the health sector this election cycle, 53 percent has gone to Democratic candidates, committees and parties and 46 percent to Republican.

'They're reading the political tea leaves like everybody else,' said Robert B. Healms, a health care policy expert at the American Enterprise Institute. 'There are strong expectations that [Barack Obama] will win, and you could probably find [this financial trend] when administrations change from Republicans to Democrats.

The pharmaceutical and health products industry has spent at least $135 million on federal lobbying so far in 2008, twice as much as any of the other industries in the health sector this year. Perhaps this is not surprising because the drug industry is heavily affected by the rules of Medicare Part D, a federal program that subsidizes prescription drug costs. "This is an industry that is very dependent on what the government policy is," Healms said. "It affects their markets and their ability to sell."

Political scientists agree. "This sub-sector has emerged as a key target of government regulation in recent years," said Steven J. Balla, a political scientist at George Washington University who focuses on health care policy. "With so much at stake, this spending (on lobbying) makes sense."

$65,000 + Wal-Mart Shoppers

Arkansas News Bureau - Wal-Mart to pare capital spending:

"The world's largest retailer further revealed that as the U.S. economy reels from tighter credit, mounting job losses and falling home prices, it is attracting more higher-income shoppers. Traffic at stores serving households with incomes above $65,000 have been growing much faster than at the chain as a whole, the company said."

Flu shots on demand

The right medicine to the right person at the right time.
Wal-Mart parking lot is the right place.

NEWS 25 - WEHT: Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro: "WARRICK CO, IN - Without even getting out of their car, hundreds of Warrick County residents got their flu shots on Saturday. The Warrick County Health Department says drive-thru vaccinations were such a big hit last year that they are offering it again this fall.

Saturday was the first opportunity for residents to get their flu shot without even getting out of the car. It was held in the parking lot of the Boonville Wal-Mart. Health officials tell NEWS 25 they gave out 600 vaccinations in just three hours."

Coupons - A business opportunity

Turn Economic Lemons Into Sales Lemonade

"However, all is not dark, and the nervousness that consumers are feeling right now may be tapped to effectively help improve one’s business right now and for the long-term. I’ve got a marketing tactic that can help with search engine optimization while simultaneously bumping up sales and even store visits for local brick-and-mortars. Read on!

My secret local search engine optimization tip du jour is exquisitely simple: coupons!

It’s unsurprising that consumers are searching for coupons more than ever, since they feel the need to cut back on expenses. Google Trends is showing a really sharp increase in searches for [coupons] as we approach the end of this year:"

Measure to manage. And eat your own dogfood

What we learned from 1 million businesses in the cloud:

We measure every server request for every user, every moment of every day. Any millisecond delay is logged.
. . .
More than 1 million businesses have selected Google Apps to run their business, and tens of millions of people use Gmail every day. With this type of adoption, a disruption of any size — even a minor one affecting fewer than 0.003% of Google Apps Premier Edition users, like the one a few weeks ago — attracts a disproportional amount of attention. We've made a series of commitments to improve our communications with customers during any outages, and we have an unwavering commitment to make all issues visible and transparent through our open user groups.

Google is one of the 1 million businesses that run on Google Apps, and any service interruption affects our users and our business; our engineers are also some of our most demanding customers. We understand the importance of delivering on the cloud's promise of greater security, reliability and capability at lower cost. We are hugely thankful to our customers who drive us to become better every day.

Space Matters

Local Search Marketing Tips for B2B Marketers

"B2B marketers establish conversions - or desired actions - throughout their customers’ buying process. These actions may take place online, on the phone, or live at a specific location. Regardless, many occur at the local level.

Local search enables marketers to capitalize on these interactions and differentiate your firm based upon one very important factor - geographic proximity."

Metrics for Sale..

In an information economy, you have to turn an invisible conversation into a metric. Once you have a metric, you've grown a long tail.

Google’s New Metric For YouTube Ads: Brain Waves: "YouTube has recently been pushing overlay ads which appear in the lower portion of the window while the video is playing. Since these ads are often used for branding purpose looking at click thru measurements would not give a true picture of their impact upon the advertisers brand messaging.

To prove the efficacy of these ads, Google hired a company called NeuroFocus to conduct research measuring biometric response to the overlays through indicators such as brainwave activity, skin response, and eye tracking. The study discovered that viewers found the overlays “compelling and engaging” and that these ads generated a high amount of attention and emotional engagement for a variety of different brands and video types. In addition, including a companion banner alongside the overlay ad was found to improve brand response compared to banner ads alone."

Google Books Subscription?

So. . .if libraries and universities can buy subscriptions to the full archive, how far away is K-12? If k-12 can buy subscriptions, what happens if those books are available on demand versioned for a particular classroom at a particular time?

US: Google Books Drives Visits to Book Retailers:
"Among other things, the settlement allows universities and libraries to buy a subscription to the entire collection of scanned books in Google's archives. Last week, 22% of visits from Google Book Search went to an Education website, with Worldcat (a website that allows users to search library catalogs) the #3 downstream website overall and the #1 Education website."

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Google v Amazon?

Consider Android v iPhone. Will there be a G-Kindle?

Google books:
Google books
Published: October 30 2008 02:00 | Last updated: October 30 2008 02:00

These days, publishers don't need a search engine to know which way the wind blows. This week's settlement of US book publishers' long-running dispute with Google over the search group's plans to make millions of copyrighted books available for browsing online was just the latest sign that purveyors of dead trees and ink are coming to terms with the internet's rise as the dominant medium of the age. After all, the same day the deal was announced, The Christian Science Monitor newspaper said it would abandon its daily print edition in favour of a weekly paper and daily online version, adding credence to the notion that in today's media environment, the shift from print to pixels is all but inevitable.

If approved by a US judge, the Google deal would clear the way for the search engine to digitise books and make snippets of their contents available to web surfers, paying authors and publishers when readers buy online access to the works."

The link:

A surge in early adoption of the new G1 mobile handset -- the first to incorporate Google Android mobile computing platform -- indicates Apple's iPhone may have another challenger for the title of hip mobile device, according to WebTrends Inc., a leading provider of web analytics and online marketing solutions.
During the first few days of availability, leading digital businesses such as Telegraph Media Group (TMG), publishers of the UK's biggest selling quality daily newspaper The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph and, have received significant traffic from the G1 handset from T-mobile. To date, a new Google Android application available at has generated more than 5,000 downloads and nearly 31,000 visits.

Follow the schedules, not the polls

Polls are guesses as to what people think. Schedules demonstrate what the campaigns think.

First Read -
"*** Follow the schedules, not the polls: NBC/WSJ co-pollster Peter Hart (D) sends along this observation: “Forget the polls, just look at what the candidates are doing and where they are spending money.” At this time in 2004, he notes, Kerry-Edwards were campaigning in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and Florida. In 2000, Gore-Lieberman were in the states of Missouri and Ohio, as well as in Florida. But in 2008, Obama and Biden AREN'T campaigning in Pennsylvania, Minnesota or Wisconsin. Instead, they’re in Nevada, Colorado, Indiana, as well as the perennials of Ohio and Florida. “You do not have to read poll numbers -- just look at their travel schedule,” Hart tells First Read. And as we learned yesterday, the Obama campaign is now spending money in Arizona, Georgia, and North Dakota."

'There is no growth in Western Europe,'

Reckitt Benckiser Posts 10% Gain in Organic Sales - Advertising Age - News: "But good news for Reckitt isn't necessarily good for competitors. Chairman-CEO Bart Becht said on a conference call that the company's gains in Western Europe and North America came on flat volume and sales.

'There is no growth in Western Europe,' Mr. Becht said of Reckitt's household, personal-care and over-the-counter drug businesses there, adding the same assessment of the U.S. 'The strength of the growth on a global basis is coming out of Eastern Europe and the developing markets, which are growing in the teens [percentage growth].'

Overall, he said global growth in Reckitt's categories slowed by about a percentage point compared with last quarter."

Robert Reich's Blog: The Meltdown (Part IV)

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Meltdown (Part IV)
The Dow is see-sawing but the reality is that the Bailout of All Bailouts isn't working. Credit markets are largely still frozen. Despite all the money going directly to the big banks, despite all the government guarantees and loans and special tax breaks, despite the shot-gun weddings and bank mergers, despite the willingness of the Treasury and the Fed to do almost whatever the banks have asked, the reality is that credit is not flowing. It's not flowing to distressed homeowners. It's not flowing to small businesses. It's not flowing to would-be homeowners with good credit ratings. Students are having a harder time borrowing for their tuition. Auto loans are drying up.

Why? Because the underlying problem isn't a liquidity problem. As I've noted elsewhere, the problem is that lenders and investors don't trust they'll get their money back because no one trusts that the numbers that purport to value securities are anything but wishful thinking. The trouble, in a nutshell, is that the financial entrepreneurship of recent years -- the derivatives, credit default swaps, collateralized debt instruments, and so on -- has undermined all notion of true value.

Many of these fancy instruments became popular over recent years precisely because they circumvented financial regulations, especially rules on banks' capital adequacy. Big banks created all these off-balance-sheet vehicles because they allowed the big banks to carry less capital.

Paulson is recapitalizing the banks -- giving them money directly rather than relying on reverse auctions -- largely because he's come to understand that the banks have taken on so much debt that the reverse auction system he told Congress he would use(designed to place a market value on these fancy-dance instruments) will leave too many banks insolvent.

But pouring money into these banks, expecting they'll turn around and lend to small businesses and Main Streets, is like pouring water into a dry sponge. Nothing will come out of it because Wall Street is so deep in debt that the banks are using the extra money to improve their balance sheets. They're hoarding it because their true balance sheets -- considering the off-balance sheet vehicles they created over the past several years -- are in such rotten shape.

In other words, taxpayers are financing a massive effort to save Wall Street's balance sheets from Wall Street's previous off-balance-sheet excesses. It won't work. It can't work. The entire effort is merely saving the asses of lots of executives and traders who got us into this mess in the first place, and whose asses should not be saved at taxpayer risk and expense.

What to do? Immediately require the Treasury to stop the broad Wall Street recapitalization, and require Wall Street to lend the money directly to Main Street. At the same time, force Wall Street to write down its true balance sheets: Let the executives and traders take the hit. Let their shareholders and even their creditors take the hit for Wall Street's collosal irresponsibility. This is the only true way to restore trust. It's also the only way to save Main Street's small businesses, homeowners, students, and everyone else.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad to see that so many of your bobble head readers agree with this post. But, I have to ask, How is your idea of lending to Main Street different than what McCain proposed in the second debate?

The increasing amount of gray in my lap every time I go to the barber is evidence that I am getting older, so my memory could be failing, but didn't you call his idea of replacing bank-based mortgages with government-based mortgages idiotic? (you were right, by the way)

How is lending money directly to individuals different than what McCain proposed? What exactly would you be lending money to Main Street for? Which government agency would make these loans? Would collateral be required? Who would service the loans? How would one qualify? Would Interest income fund the administration necessary to oversee such a program? Would some portion of the $700 billion go towards this?

Where exactly is your empiric evidence that "deregulation" caused the current economic situation? Who was the last to pass major financial deregulation ? (Answer: Clinton). Who was the last to pass major financial regulation? (Answer: Bush)

The evidence I've seen suggests that market distortions occur when the government gets involved in markets rather than the reverse. For example, government felt executive pay was excessive, so it limited the deductibility of direct executive compensation. What happened? Increased incentive compensation in the form of bonuses and equity compensation resulted in precisely the opposite of what the government was trying to accomplish. How about the mortgage mess? Government got involved by saying "lower your standards" and a bubble began to build.

In both cases, industry took the government's mandate and made it more excessive through irresponsibility. But, it was the government that put us on both of those roads.

Why in the world should I trust the government to run a loan program when I'm not even sure it could find its way down a one way street with a map, a compass, and in-car navigation?

The interesting thing about the idea we're now criticizing is that it isn't Paulson's. It is Bernanke's.

I'm not judging his idea as good or bad. But, it is worthwhile to note that Bernanke's Ph.D. dissertation at MIT was on the causes of the depression and what could have been done differently.

Only time will tell if he is right. I take comfort in the fact that he's spent a lot of time studying that situation and that he has ideas based more on reasoning than politics.

anonymous matt

Anonymous Frank Thomas said...


Just watched a Dutch documentary last night showing Bush Jr. promoting in more than one talk, starting in 2002, expanding loans to black and other ethnic (i.e., Spanish) Americans. He kept citing evidence of home ownership of these groups being very low compared to mainstream middle/class America. Bush repeated this policy theme a number of times. Little wonder the banks, real estate agents, supported by Greenspan´s cheap money, got the message. So began all the snake/oil lending and real estate evaluation practices that have been sadly well documented to date. The greed train became everyone´s first class ticket to security and keeping up with the Jones.

Thus, government under Bush also greatly accelerated the financial mess we are in and the unregulated market took its greedy cue. Bush´s weak attempts at regulation were voted down by his OWN party. You forgot to mention that, Matt.

The blame is all around but, the major theme of keeping government small and out of people´s lives started with Reagan (even though he generated huge Deficits) and has for too long been an unchallenged ideology cocaine fix in the extreme ... to the detriment of ALL Americans now.

Governments in the more mature countries of Europe do a pretty darn good job of getting the right balance between (a)government oversight and regulations controlling irresponsible actions, and (b) freeing market forces to pursue their innovative initiatives and growth functions.

Our financial system has broken down. Only the government working closely with industry can fix it. As I said in a former post, when are we going to realize that too much government destroys the market (e.g., Johnson welfare state focus) while too much market destroys the government (e.g., the Reagan revolution). The challenge is to get the balance right. Under Clinton the balance was also lost as technology made markets so complex that politicians as well as financial experts lost control over things.

Your axiom that´s it´s all government´s fault is a bit too simplistic in ignoring all the interconnected parties, particularly in this flat, global world now.

One could argue that governmental institutions are BEHIND the speed of these global financial interconnections. For example, who knew that the country Iceland was in reality a country Hedge Fund with ice glaciers?

Globalization screams for a wise but strong coordinated central empiring of the system ... contrary to anyone´s nostalgic laissez/faire dream world ... a fantasy world we´ve just witnessed what destruction it can bring to innocent, hardworking people.

Tuesday, 21 October, 2008
Blogger David said...

Anonymous Matt asked for proof of the deregulation as the source of the problem.

Also read Karl Denninger blog,

".... The root cause of the current lack of trust in our financial markets is threefold:
1. Nobody can trust a balance sheet. This is due to off-balance-sheet vehicles (which were supposed to be banned after ENRON) and "Level 3" assets, which nobody can analyze the true valuation of, as identification of the claimed assets and their valuation models are undisclosed.

2. Credit Default Swaps (CDS) are "over the counter" (OTC) transactions with no margin or capital supervision. As a consequence nobody knows if their "counterparty" can pay. In fact huge percentages of these people can't pay - but nobody knows who they are.

3. Leverage. The SEC removed broker/dealer 12:1 leverage limits in 2004. Every firm that has failed - all five (Fannie, Freddie, Bear Stearns, Lehman and AIG) had leverage far in
excess of 12:1. The bailout bill
is even more dangerous as it accelerates a provision intended to go into effect in 2011 that allows Ben Bernanke to increase financial firm leverage by dropping reserve requirements on banks to zero should
he so choose. It is excessive leverage that got us here in the first place, and this bill actually makes it worse.

The solution to the trust issues in our financial system is elegant and it will work.

1. Force all off-balance sheet "assets" back onto the balance sheet, and force the valuation models and identification of individual assets out of Level 3 and into 10Qs and 10Ks. Enact this requirement beginning with the 3Q 2008 reporting period which begins next month.
Total taxpayer cost: $0.00

2. Force all OTC derivatives onto a regulated exchange similar to that used by listed options in the equity markets. This permanently defuses the derivatives time bomb. Give market participants 90 days to get this done; any that are not listed in 90 days are declared void; let the
participants sue each other if they
can't prove capital adequacy. Total taxpayer cost: $0.00

3. Force leverage by all institutions to no more than 12:1. The SEC intentionally dropped broker/dealer leverage limits in 2004; prior to that date 12:1 was the limit. Every firm that has failed had double or more the leverage of that former 12:1 limit. Enact this with a six month
time limit and require 1/6th of
the excess taken down monthly. Total taxpayer cost: $0.00"

For more information about the plan, read
Also read Karl Denninger blog,

-David S

Tuesday, 21 October, 2008
Blogger Art A Layman said...


Have to agree with Frank, you perspective is somewhat myopic. As a fellow accountant I am dismayed at the simplicity of your cause and effect model.

No doubt deregulation was a major contributing factor and the repeal of Glass-Stegall, in hindsight, was not a shining moment for Clinton, but the current dilemma was aided not caused by repealing Glass-Stegall. You should also note, that while Clinton supported it, the legislation passed with a veto proof majority in Congress, so even a Clinton veto would have been ineffective.

I tend to agree with David and his reference that removal of the leverage ratio was far more impactive. Fancy accounting gimmickry, even if legal, also greatly impacted transparency, eventually leading to a credit lock up. You and I know that there is no benefit to the system, the process, provided by obscuring information, especially hiding it. To me it is an act that is totally contrary to the basic concepts underlying the worth of our profession.

Whether it was Carter or Clinton or Bush, or whomever, who pressured the banking industry to increase loans to the lesser qualified is shouting at the rain. Had industry used reasonable judgment they could have effected the desired result without extreme risk. It was the aggregation, dissection and securitization of mortgage packages that began the real problem.

These new investment vehicles created a whole new market, providing mucho profits from sales and fees, that shifted the emphasis, from the issuance of mortgages to enable homeownership to the lesser privileged, to feeding this new market with a supply of new profits. The only way the market could keep up with demand for these products was to begin creating more mortgages, essentially out of thin air. Recognizing some risk in these loosely issued mortgages, the credit default swaps market picked up steam and produced even more profits. As the focus shifted from evaluating tangible assets to attempting to value pieces of paper, Rumsfeld became prescient with all his unknown unknowns.

Now I believe, if you go back and look, the fallacy, and Dr. Reich's point, in what McCain proffered was that he was willing to buy the original mortgages from banks at full value and then issue new mortgages based on current home values. Granted this would possibly allow many to stay in their homes but the banks get their profits back and the taxpayers take the losses. This is a far cry from having the government initiate loans to individuals or small businesses directly and collect the interest income and with no upfront built-in loss.

I do agree with your implication that presently the government does not have the infrastructure to manage and effect this process. Setting up the administration would be costly and time-consuming and one would guess only temporary.

Your analogies tend from the ridiculous to the sublime. It is the job of government to try and level the playing field, it is the private sector that diverts their energies to focus on maintaining the status quo or using government mandates to manipulate additional profits. Worst case, in your executive analogy, is we are still at zero. Nothing gained but nothing lost either.

Your mortgage analogy is even worse. When your boss comes to you and says find me $400,000 more working capital and you end up violating GAAP to get there, is your boss the cause because he made the request? I doubt you get paid the big bucks for such shoddy cause and effect analysis.

Your assertion of government's incompetence is conventional wisdom, at least from the right side of the political spectrum, but does not our current dilemma suggest that the private sector is not immune from idiocy? Markets don't do distortions, they do improvisations and creations. Whether overcoming government regs or competitive pressures they adjust and go forward.

The federal government is charged in the Constitution with "providing for the general welfare" not "providing for the corporate welfare".

Robert Reich's Blog: The Meltdown (Part IV)

Robert Reich's Blog: The Meltdown (Part IV): "Why? Because the underlying problem isn't a liquidity problem. As I've noted elsewhere, the problem is that lenders and investors don't trust they'll get their money back because no one trusts that the numbers that purport to value securities are anything but wishful thinking. The trouble, in a nutshell, is that the financial entrepreneurship of recent years -- the derivatives, credit default swaps, collateralized debt instruments, and so on -- has undermined all notion of true value."

Android Google + WalMart

The Channel Wire - IT Channel News And Views by CRN and VARBusiness:
"October 29, 2008
Today, nearly 550 Wal-Mart stores are expected to start selling the T-Mobile G1, the first smart phone based on the open source Google Android mobile operating system. Along with stocking the device, Wal-Mart ' in its continuing bid to offer the lowest prices ' chopped $31.11 off the price a G1 buyer would pay at a T-Mobile retail store.

To say I'm bitter would be an understatement, considering I shelled out full price -- $179.99 plus more for add-ons ' for the T-Mobile G1 exactly one week ago."

Why Advocacy Efforts Are Good for Grantmakers & Grantees

onPhilanthropy: Articles:

"The potential of this influence is significant - the more than one million public charities in the United States comprise over 7.2% of the country’s GDP, and in a 2008 survey by Charity Lobbying in the Public Interest (CLPI) and Johns Hopkins University Center for Civil Society, nonprofits that reported an interest in and duty toward lobbying still only dedicate 2% of their budget to doing so. In addition to fiduciary impact, nonprofit organizations can provide a perspective and insight into the root causes of issue areas, with which legislators are not necessarily familiar. Thus, nonprofit organizations truly do have the capacity to effect change in an impactful way through advocacy efforts."

Economic Bulletin

Economic Bulletin:

"Economic Bulletin
Economic Development Service - March 2008

The Economic Bulletin is a bi-annual publication, produced by the Strategy & Development team for both an internal (officers, members) and external (partners, businesses) audience. If you would like to contribute stories or articles to future editions of the Bulletin then please contact Muz Mumtaz or Graham Lindsay.

We hope you find the Opens in a new windowlatest edition of the Economic Bulletin (PDF 213kb) both informative and interesting, if you have any comments about the content, layout or style of the Bulletin we would be very happy to hear them.

Happy informative reading!"

Government: The growth market for Print

Kirklees Council creates new centralised print and mail service :

"Kirklees Council’s Document Solutions design, print and mail facility, now one of the largest print and direct mail houses in Yorkshire, has announced Xerox UK as its preferred High Volume digital print equipment supplier.

As part of a five-year agreement, Document Solutions will use Xerox equipment to improve communications with the public through the production and distribution of personalised, on-demand documents.

As of September 2008, Document Solutions began completely managing all of the council’s design, print, mailing and distribution services and has the capability to provide print services to other public sector organisations. Document Solutions will use colour and monochrome Xerox printers
to create and distribute council tax forms, payroll, benefit statements, booklets, posters, newsletters, committee reports and training manuals that will assist in fulfilling the council’s four strategic objectives – Green, Young, Diverse and Economically Strong."

MPS - Print Infrastructure

2008 MPS Market Report -

"How hard can it be to define managed print services? Interestingly, the term has evolved over the years in the printing and imaging industry, and it means different things to different people. This is due mainly to the continued convergence of technology, particularly digital and analog technologies. In past years, the copier model was a ‘labor-intensive’ support model, copiers were not on the network, and the financial arrangements were managed on a cost per page arrangement. In those days, copier services were managed by the facilities departments and management of the fleet was mainly done as an overseeing of a contract."

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

China to buy Africa and South America?

The New Imperialist: China to Buy Agricultural Land Abroad

"And does China really think it can export food from large tracts of land abroad if the natives are hungry? There are major risks, such as governments asserting eminent domain to repatriate property and sabotage of transport.

China is concentrating its efforts on Africa and South America. In many areas, the control of the central government is weak. Will China wind up employing local mercenaries to secure its interests? It will be interesting to watch this initiative play out.

From the Financial Times:

Chinese companies will be encouraged to buy farmland abroad, particularly in Africa and South America, to help guarantee food security under a plan being considered by Beijing."