In terms of announced mass layoffs, 2013 is shaping up to be the best year since 1997. Overall, employers aren’t shedding lots of jobs. But glitter in some sectors covers up aggressive, permanent job destruction in other sectors – where the sky used to be the limit.
Sign of trouble: A wealth manager told me some of his elderly clients were now coming into his office, and they’d say, “My kids tell me that I can make 25% a year with stocks.” How much were they were willing to lose? “Nothing,” they’d say.
How can anyone look at this without concern? Many portfolio managers are riding the wave but are prepared to dump their investments at the first alarm – then, who is going to buy?
By Don Quijones: 58% of the world’s biggest 150 economic entities aren’t countries but corporations. Royal Dutch Shell’s revenues exceed the GDPs of 171 countries, making it the 26th largest economic entity in the world. And the balance of power is shifting rapidly.
The seamless, borderless surveillance society has a new dimension: MUSCULAR. Under it, the NSA and British GCHQ secretly break into the “clouds” of US companies to syphon off user data on a large scale. Illegal in the US. But the cloud is a worldwide phenomenon.
“It’s a great time to sell,” mused a pension fund investment officer. And Blackstone Group, the world’s largest private equity firm, is doing exactly that, feverishly, relentlessly, hand over fist, at peak valuations, cashing out. What does that mean for the rest of us?
Brokers, financial advisors, and wealth managers are a recalcitrant bunch, suddenly, after having gotten their manicured fingers burned on a few super-hyped IPOs, and now they just refuse to get exuberant about the Twitter IPO. At least that’s what they indicated in a survey. But individual investors, well, that’s another story.
BYD, the name of a Chinese electric vehicle and solar panel maker, stands for “Build Your Dream.” Maybe that’s what they’re trying to do in China. But here, they’re building a nightmare: broken promises, falsehoods, design flaws… all lushly funded by American taxpayers. And they paid Chinese workers in California $1.50 per hour to do it.
Stocks balloon, we’re incessantly told, because revenues are rising due to great products, ingenious strategies, or brilliant marketing; and because earnings are rising due to, well, if not rising revenues, then cost cutting, moving production overseas, squeezing suppliers…. But what if revenues sag and earnings plunge, not for a bad-hair quarter, but for years, and the stock still balloons?
I’m not picking on IBM. I’m almost sure they have some decent products. So they had a crummy quarter – the sixth quarter in a row of sales declines. And their hardware sales in China have collapsed since Snowden’s revelations about the NSA and its collaboration with American tech companies. But in one area, IBM excels: its hocus-pocus machine.