I am also testing some free hosting and it looks like Blogsome is the best. During this week I will try to figure out how to do the migration from Blogger, and design an aproppiate template. Hope to to see you at my new home:
Comentarios de Negocios, Finanzas y Economía para Latinoamericanos (plan.maestro.blog at gmail.com)
Google still has tremendous share of pay-per-click advertising, but a lot depends on how much time it has to build a beachhead for other sources of revenue.
Google's market share of US searches for June 2005 was at 36.9% compared with 37.5% in May 2005. Yahoo! had a 30.4% share, and MSN had a share of 15.7%. Bear Stearns noted that Google's query volume rose 36% YTY versus a 28% increase for the industry, outpacing Yahoo!'s 32% increase but trailing MSN's 42% increase. Month-to-month, Google's query volume declined 6%, which compares with a 4% decline for Yahoo!, a 1% decline for MSN, a 4% decline for AOL, and a 7% decline for Ask Jeeves. In Q2 2005 unique searchers versus Q2 2004 increased 31% for Google, 21% for Yahoo, and 14% for the industry, while the number of searches in Q2 2005 increased 38% for Google, 42% for Yahoo, and 31% for the industry. "
FT.com / Comment & analysis / Columnists - John Kay: An empty language for empty heads: "Lies and spin communicate, but what they communicate is false. The defining characteristic of bullshit is that it does not attempt to communicate at all. Bullshit has the vocabulary and syntax of ordinary language, but not the meaning. And, in fact, the metaphor is not apt. What we describe as bullshit is more like candy floss: when you bite into it, there is nothing there. "
"Music videos, too, make sense because of the iPod's ready-made audience of music lovers. Apple in recent months has started bundling a limited number of music videos when iTunes customers purchase an entire album on the site. Users who pay $9.99 for the latest album by the White Stripes, for example, get a video for a song by the rock duo called Blue Orchid that can be downloaded to a computer.
Building on that effort, Apple has approached the four major music companies, Warner Music Group Corp., EMI Group PLC, Vivendi Universal SA's Universal Music Group and Sony BMG, a joint venture between Sony Corp. and Bertelsmann AG, to license music videos for sale through iTunes, according to people in the media industry. The videos, which could go on sale as early as September, would likely be sold for $1.99 each, with the possibility of a discount if consumers buy a music video and a song at the same time, these people say.
For music companies, a deal with Apple would represent another attempt to generate income for the music videos they sometimes spend hundreds of thousands of dollars creating. Music companies are still smarting from their two-decade-old strategic blunder of letting cable network MTV air video content for next to nothing, a decision that gave them little participation in the creation of what has become a hugely successful business for Viacom Inc."
" In some ways, the employee philosophy at Trader Joe's is similar to the one espoused by Aldi, its German parent company. In an effort to control labor costs, which are among the biggest expenses on any retailer's profit and loss statement, Aldi and Trader Joe's take a somewhat bare-bones approach to the amount of labor needed in stores at any given time. However, they don't scrimp on pay.
For its management-training program, Aldi makes extensive use of executive recruiters and woos applicants with a generous financial package that includes a starting salary of about $47,000 annually plus pension benefits. To get the most motivated people into its 12-month training program, the company offers new hires a fully expensed company car-- an Audi A4. This is an attractive perk for recent college graduates, one of the key targets of the chain's recruiting efforts."
"This spring, even before the Google programming interfaces were published, a Silicon Valley programmer, Paul Rademacher, wrote software making it possible to display real estate listings from the bulletin-board site Craigslist overlaid on Google Maps.
The resulting mash-ups, as the hybrid Web services are called, can be viewed at housingmaps.com. The site has already attracted more than a half-million viewers and now receives more than 10,000 visits a day. Virtually all the traffic has come from Internet word-of-mouth publicity; Mr. Rademacher said he had posted only a single brief notice on Craigslist asking for testers when he started the service.
The idea came to Mr. Rademacher while he was driving around Silicon Valley looking for a home to rent. Before starting on his reconnaissance mission, he said he had painstakingly printed out the location of each rental listing on a different map.
'I was driving around with a huge stack of paper,' he recalled. 'That was the 'Ah-ha' moment; it was obvious they should all be on a single map.' Because the new hybrid services raise potentially thorny questions about how revenue might be shared as well as potential disputes over the ownership of digital information, Mr. Rademacher said he had decided to avoid accepting advertisements on his site and had done it purely as a proof of concept."
FT.com / By industry / Telecoms - Ebbers sentenced to 25 years for fraud:
"Executives accused of white-collar crime have had mixed fortunes in US courts in recent months. John Rigas, 80, founder of Adelphia Communications, was last month sentenced to 15 years in prison for looting the cable television company and lying to investors. Richard Scrushy, however, the former chairman of HealthSouth, who was accused of orchestrating a $2.7bn accounting fraud at the company he started, was found not-guilty after a controversial trial in his Alabama hometown."
FT.com: DVD sales slump proves more is less
"DreamWorks added to the gloom on Monday when it disclosed that retailers
were continuing to return copies of its DVDs, and predicted a loss for the
This spate of bad news for DVDs is a blow not just to the individual studios that have warned but also to Hollywood: DVDs have been the industry's lifeblood in recent years even overtaking box office receipts. PwC says Hollywood generated a record $15.2bn in DVD sales in 2004 an increase of more than 30 per cent. That compared with just $9.4bn in box office revenues last year.
One of the main attractions of DVDs has been their low manufacturing costs providing bigger margins to the studios than the VHS tapes they replaced. Their contributions are all the more important at a time when the box office has been mired in a record slump that has stoked fears that consumers are turning to the internet, video games and other sources of entertainment.
The studios are suffering in part from a long-anticipated slowdown in DVD sales as the market matures. Tom Wolzien, a media analyst at Sanford Bernstein, has predicted that sales will drop from double-digits to 9 per cent this year, and 4 per cent in 2006."
Last year before leaving for Liberia, I solicited book recommendations from a few friends (including Alex). I wanted to come up with a fairly short list of books that Liberian leaders should read if they were interested in building an economic system that would be conducive to economic growth.Here is the list of books that I took and donated to a college library:
- The Birth of Plenty by William Bernstein
- The Noblest Triumph, by Tom Bethell
- The Mystery of Capital, by Hernando De Soto
- The Elusive Quest for Growth, by William Easterly
- The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, by David Landes
- How the West Grew Rich, by Nathan Rosenberg and L.E. Birdzell"
FT.com : Published: July 10 2005 18:45Technorati Tags:
Good marketing ploys can be like a bitter pill, with the sugar coating on the inside. Within that genre, Coca-Cola pulled off probably the greatest marketing stunt ever exactly 20 years ago. For much of the 1980s, the drinks company had been running out of fizz. By 1985, it seemed entirely plausible that it would lose the Cola wars to challenger PepsiCo.
Coke was in a bind. It had a well-known, but tired product, which consumers found hard to swallow, according to blind taste tests. Pepsi, as the underdog, also had the sympathy vote. Coke's risky but brilliant response? It introduced its own new concoction, with a taste eerily similar to its rival's.
Within weeks, consumers across the US were screaming for the return of the real thing. Coke duly revived its old formula as Coca-Cola Classic. Two years on, new Coke had almost vanished. But the sight of mighty Coca-Cola giving in to humble Americans, paired with the free publicity, boosted the Classic brand for the rest of the decade just as its marketers had always envisioned. Or so the business school case study might one day teach. Business gurus, after all, are notoriously fond of rationalising after the event. In fact, Coke was taken as much by surprise as everyone else...
FT.com: UK retailers: Published: July 8 2005 15:32
Any visitor to Marks and Spencer's flagship store in Marble Arch knows it is prime retail space. So why are investors in M&S and other retailers not getting a return matching that offered by commercial property?
Over the last decade, the dividend yield on shares in Boots, J Sainsbury and M&S has averaged between 3.7 and 4.6 per cent. Over the same period, commercial property has yielded 7.8 per cent. Investors have also lost out on capital appreciation. Sainsbury's shares have fallen 40 per cent, M&S's 21 per cent and Boots' shares are up 8 per cent, while retail property, according to the Investment Property Databank, has seen capital growth of 61 per cent.
Investors are entitled to ask why retailers have not made their property work harder, although what value boards should assign to it is less clear. Balance sheet net book values ₤630m for Boots, ₤2.1bn at M&S and ₤5.3bn at Sainsbury bear little relation to market values. In any case, these are difficult to ascertain since, at best, only other retailers would be interested.
Retailers could perhaps make more imaginative financial use of their property. Boots is experimenting with sub-letting parts of its stores. But other arrangements, like sale and leasebacks, do not change the value of what shareholders own, even though they deliver a one-off cash boost. At the very least, boards should have property yields in mind when making strategic choices, while investors should be using them as a benchmark against which to judge retailers' performance."
...the reality is that liberalizing agricultural trade would largely benefit the consumers and taxpayers of the wealthy nations. Why? Because agricultural subsidies serve first and foremost to transfer resources from consumers and taxpayers to farmers within the same country...Other countries are affected only insofar as world prices rise. But the big, clear gainers from such price increases would be countries that are large net exporters of agricultural products --rich countries, such as the United States, and middle-income countries, such as Argentina, Brazil, and Thailand.
What about the poorer countries? For one thing, many poor countries are actually net importers of agricultural products, and so they benefit from low world prices. An increase in prices may help the rural poor, who sell the agricultural goods, but it would make the urban poor -- the consumers -- worse off. Net poverty could still be reduced, but to what extent depends in complicated fashion on the working condition of roads and the markets for fertilizer and other inputs...
Regardless of whether agricultural liberalization increases or decreases poverty, the impact would not be significant. Most studies predict that the effect of such liberalization on world prices would be small...
Furthermore a general reduction of trade barriers in rich countries could leave some of the world's poorest countries worse off. A substantial part of least-developed countries' exports enjoy favorable conditions of access to the markets of rich countries under various preferential trade arrangements..."
Mercosur puede ser un importante ganador en industrias como azúcar, jugo de naranja, soya, algodón y tantas más. Brasil ha logrado prácticamente solo el crear conciencia de los costos de dicho proteccionismo y defenderlos en la WTO. ¿Cuáles son las oportunidades para Chile?
Ahora bien, no parece ser la bala de plata para solucionar los problemas de Africa, pero soy excéptico de que dicha bala exista.
Categories: Tequila, Mexico, Business, Negocios
MEXICO CITY - Production and exports of Mexico's most famous liquor reached record levels in the first half of the year, according to the tequila industry's
Overall production hit 110.2 million liters, up from 87.4 million liters for the same period last year and from the previous record, 95.8 million liters, in 2000.
Of that, 60.8 million liters were exported, up from the previous record of 54.9 million liters for the same period last year...
• "This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication."
William Orton, president of Western Union, in 1876, when Alexander Graham Bell tried to sell the company his invention.
• "Everything that can be invented has been invented."
Charles Duell, U.S. Patent Commissioner, 1899.
• "Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?"
Harry Warner, Warner Bros., as movies with sound made their debut in 1927.
• "640K ought to be enough for anybody."
Bill Gates, Microsoft co-founder, 1981.
• "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers"
Thomas Watson, builder of IBM, in 1943.
Estamos de luto con los ciudadanos de Londres
Estamos de luto con los ciudadanos de Londres
Prometemos ayudar a encontrar y matar a sus ejecutores, planificadores, y ayudantes.
Observamos que han pasado 46 meses desde septiembre 11 del 2001, y que Osama bin Laden todavía está vivo y en libertad. Que alguien pueda planear Septiembre 11 y seguir vivo y en libertad es un sólido estimulo para quienes piensan seguir sus pasos -- incluyendo a quienes planearon, apoyaron, y concretaron la atrocidad en Londres.
Más atención a Osama bin Laden y a su ilk, por favor. Y menos atención a usar a Osama bin Laden como pretexto para lanzar irresponsables planes neoconservadores, por favor.
The Daily Dirt Chess Blog: Dortmund's Folly?:
"The Dortmund supertournament starts today. They have already made news by canceling live internet broadcasting of the games. Chess fans have been spoiled by free live broadcasts at a wide variety of locations for years. Far more people watch rebroadcasts at Playchess.com and the ICC than at the official sites. It would almost be nice if they could reserve rights to the broadcast of moves and use these for sponsorship, but they can't.
Free broadcasts provide general PR for the event, but little or nothing for the sponsors of the event, unless, as in Linares and Dortmund, the town itself is one of the sponsors and name recognition is a factor. Two-thirds of international news entries containing 'Dortmund' are about the big Borussia Dortmund football team. And only bullfight fanatics knew about Linares.
Unless the organizers feel they are gaining something from a live broadcast, why pay for one? Well, the costs are minimal (zero, since Playchess would do it) and goodwill in the chess community is a pretty good reason, you would think. The reason they gave for the cancelation, to attract more visitors to the tournament, sounds ridiculous. The games are available online right after the round. Do they think people are so excited at the prospect of watching live chess they will leave their homes and go to Dortmund when they can't watch live online? Maybe a few dozen people who live in the area would do this, tops. Nobody is coming from abroad based on this change, especially since they announced it just days before the first round.
The rest of the world will be annoyed, and will realize that waiting a few hours to see the games isn't a tragedy. Most fans never watch live anyway, but they are the most dedicated, passionate group around. You want to keep them happy and leverage that pass"
FT.com / Lex - Lex: Terrorism: "Today, however, markets look more vulnerable than ever. The world's economic imbalances have mounted, with the US current account deficit now running at more than 6 per cent of gross domestic product. Far too much still depends on Anglo-Saxon consumers. The eurozone, meanwhile, remains stagnant and oil prices are at record highs. In addition, the economic rise of China has introduced another, potentially destabilising, factor, with protectionist sentiment rising on both sides of the Atlantic.Technorati Tags:
Simultaneously, the capacity of global leaders to initiate joint action continues to look limited given the personal acrimony between the main actors. Tensions over Iraq, the European constitution, world trade and China's currency peg have all contributed to this.
Excess liquidity in the global monetary system has created bubbles, notably in housing. Even for equities, valuations are stretched relative to longer-term earnings, while bond yields are close to all-time lows. Investors hold unusually divergent views on fundamental economic prospects. In the awful event of a further, more devastating, attack, markets could prove more vulnerable."
"in a week with little important economic data, housing figures were even more prominent than usual. The Halifax, Britain's largest mortgage lender, produced its price index, showing a rise of just 0.1 per cent over the month in June. This gave an annual increase of 3.7 per cent - the smallest gain since March 2001.
Prices have risen in three months this year and fell in the other three, leading to a net monthly gain of only a tenth of a percent. The price of the average British house is now 162,605 pounds compared to 162,411 in May....
..."The measured retreat in the housing market continues and we expect by the early autumn that annual price growth will have dipped into the red for the first time since the mid-1990s," said Paul Guest, an analyst at Economy.com, aconsultancy. "Annual house price growth last month fell below annual earnings growth for the first time in almost 4 years in June. As this trend is expected to continue through the remainder of the year, the price to earnings should come down and boost affordability, particularly among first time buyers.""
FT.com / By industry / Retailing & leisure - US retailers boosted by strong June sales: "Wal-Mart's improved performance was also again overshadowed by Target, its main discount rival. The retailer, which attracts more well-off shoppers than Wal-Mart, reported a 9 per cent increase in same store sales, easily beating its original 4-6 per cent forecast, citing stronger than expected sales of clothing. Target also increased its earnings guidance for the quarter, saying it now expected quarterly earnings of at least 58 cents per share, against Wall Street analysts' previous consensus estimate of around 53 cents. "
macroblog: The Best Advice You Will Get On Thinking About Bubbles:
"My notice of Alex Tabarrok's post on bubblemania is a few days overdue -- hey, it's summertime, and the blogging ain't easy -- but what he has to say is too good to pass without comment:Is there a housing bubble? Some say yes, some say no. I say who cares? The real question is not whether there is a bubble the question is, What are the chances that housing prices will fall dramatically? Contrary to popular belief, knowledge of whether prices are following fundamentals or a bubble tells us very little about this question.
An efficient market is not necessarily a stable market. Indeed, an efficient market can be as or even more volatile than a market plagued by bubbles.
My thoughts exactly. Alex provides a quick overview of why arguing about bubbles or not-bubbles is such a dubious exercise, relying on some straightforward economic theory:Consider the stock market - the price to earnings ratio can be written (using the Gordon Growth Model) as P/E=D/E*(1+g)/(r-g) where g is the growth rate of dividends and r is the discount rate. Since r and g are small a small change in g can have a large effect on the P/E ratio - so much in fact that it is very difficult to reject a model of stock prices based solely on fundamentals (see my paper with Gary Santoni or the Barsky and DeLong classic Why Does the Stock Market Fluctuate (JSTOR).)
The principles are similar with respect to the housing market. "
Three Super Kmarts Closing; Rest to Follow?: "Three Super Kmarts Closing; Rest to Follow?Technorati Tags:
JULY 07, 2005 -- TROY, Mich. -- Kmart, based here, said it will shutter three Super Kmart stores in the Memphis, Tenn. area, but industry observers say it could only be a matter of time before the discount chain, which completed a merger with Sears in March, does away with its ailing food-retailing business altogether.
'No surprises here,' Richard D. Hastings, v.p. - senior retail sector analyst at Bernard Sands, LLC in New York, told Progressive Grocer. 'Many of the larger-format Kmarts are being converted into Sears Essentials, and the remaining Kmart stores are focused primarily on gross margin, and that means apparel, not food. I would not be surprised to see the eventual discontinuation of all Super Kmarts in future.' Hoffman Estates, Ill.-based Sears has said it plans to convert 400 Kmart stores into Sears stores...
...'When it comes to food retailing, replenishment, transportation, promotional events, and pricing are deeply integrated issues,' noted Hastings. 'If there is a weakness in one phase of this chain, then the rest will likely underperform. In the case of Wal-Mart, there was and remains a perfect synchronization of these functions, something that Kmart never achieved. For this reason, Kmart's historical ventures into supercenters and supermarkets were never competitively favored, especially against the greatest distribution and logistics company in the world, Wal-Mart"
No la tienen fácil los científicos del siglo XXI. Los logros de los últimos dos dejaron la vara alta.
El Science Magazine realizo una lista de los principales temas de investigación que vienen. La mayoría es biogenética... algo de lo que soy sumamente ignorante y supongo tendré que aprender. Destaco las dos últimas por sus implicaciones económicas:
Tranquiliza que hay progreso. El motor híbrido (Toyota Prius) puede que nos de un tiempo mientras la tecnología fuel cell se hace económicamente viable. Y con respecto a Malthus: EEUU, Europa, Los tigres asiáticos y una gran parte de Latinoamérica ya lo vencieron. Africa es la gran incógnita.
THE QUESTIONS: The Top 25 Essays by our news staff on 25 big questions facing science over the next quarter-century.
- What Is the Universe Made Of?
- What is the Biological Basis of Consciousness?
- Why Do Humans Have So Few Genes?
- To What Extent Are Genetic Variation and Personal Health Linked?
- Can the Laws of Physics Be Unified?
- How Much Can Human Life Span Be Extended?
- What Controls Organ Regeneration?
- How Can a Skin Cell Become a Nerve Cell?
- How Does a Single Somatic Cell Become a Whole Plant?
- How Does Earth's Interior Work?
- Are We Alone in the Universe?
- How and Where Did Life on Earth Arise?
- What Determines Species Diversity?
- What Genetic Changes Made Us Uniquely Human?
- How Are Memories Stored and Retrieved?
- How Did Cooperative Behavior Evolve?
- How Will Big Pictures Emerge from a Sea of Biological Data?
- How Far Can We Push Chemical Self-Assembly?
- What Are the Limits of Conventional Computing?
- Can We Selectively Shut Off Immune Responses?
- Do Deeper Principles Underlie Quantum Uncertainty and Nonlocality?
- Is an Effective HIV Vaccine Feasible?
- How Hot Will the Greenhouse World Be?
- What Can Replace Cheap Oil -- and When?
- Will Malthus Continue to Be Wrong?
I've used that s = 0.36 value along with the futures price to set the mean m to illustrate this implied probability density for the June 2006 price of oil in the above figure, and tabulated the probability that this implies that the June 2006 oil price would be below any particular value P in the table below. The market is putting something like a 7% chance that oil will go above Simmons's $100, and a 15% chance it could go below Ayer's $40.
$ per barrel Probability that
June 2006 price will be below
"News of the exercise sent shock waves through the advertising world because of the status of the assignment and the history between BA and the Saatchi brothers who started working for the airline in the early 1980s. Their work established the airline as a global brand and cemented their reputations as workers of marketing wonders.
The Saatchis dubbed it "the world's favourite airline" in 1983, basing their claim on the observation that while other airlines carried more people, none of BA's competitors transported more international passengers."
"La comuna de Santiago Centro, como ha sido habitual en los últimos meses, lideró las ventas de departamentos (por unidades) en mayo de 2005 con una participación de 34,4%. Detrás de Santiago, se ubican Las Condes y La Florida con Puente Alto.
En lo referente a la venta de casas por unidades, en mayo de 2005 la mayor participación la tuvo Maipú / Cerrillos / Pudahuel, con una participación de 43,3%. Le siguen Quilicura y Puente Alto.
De acuerdo al ranking por comunas de las ventas de departamentos según monto en
UF, la comuna de Las Condes lideró las ventas del mes de mayo con una participación de 32,3%. Detrás se ubican Santiago Centro y La Florida con Puente Alto. Asimismo, en cuanto a la venta de casas en UF, el grupo de comunas conformado por Maipú Cerrillos/Pudahuel lideraron la venta con una participación de casi 30% del monto total. Detrás se ubican Peñalolén y Vitacura."
"En cuanto al crecimiento del vino embotellado por regiones, en el mes de mayo, Europa (que representa más de la mitad de los envíos) creció 5,4% en valor; Estados Unidos y Canadá (con casi un quinto de las exportaciones) aumentó 11,2%; y Latinoamérica (que representa cerca de 15%), tuvo un alza de 16,9%.
Dentro de los principales países a los cuales Chile exporta, destacan los crecimientos en lo que va corrido del año para vino embotellado de: Estados Unidos 13,4%, Reino Unido 4,8%, Alemania 48,2%, Canadá 33,4%, Holanda 35,5%, Irlanda 8%, Bélgica 38,6% y Finlandia 24,6%."
También se menciona un punto preocupante: la caída de los volúmenes de carga internacional. Los altos precios del petróleo y su transferencia a precios de flete deben ser una pesada carga. Esto refuerza otras noticias internacionales de caída de cargas marítimas y aéreas internacionales:
Las aerolíneas locales también registraron buenos resultados. La firma ligada al empresario Jurgen Paulmann, Sky Airline, repuntó 19,7% en mayo. Según plantea el informe "si se consideran sólo las rutas operadas por esta empresa, la participación se eleva a 23,6%, superior al mes anterior que fue de 22,7%", explica.
Otra de las que también experimentó avances fue Aerolíneas del Sur, ya que aumentó a 4,7% su participación de mercado, frente a los resultados del mes anterior que sólo fue de 2%. En este sentido, el documento también especificó que si se consideraban sólo las rutas operadas por la firma, su porcentaje en el mercado se elevaba a 11,1%.
La carga internacional continuó en mayo con una tendencia negativa (en los primeros cinco meses sólo abril fue positivo), registrando una caída de 6,4% con 20.373 toneladas.
De estas el 53% fue transportada por el grupo Lan. En el acumulado enero-mayo la carga cayó 3,6%."
"Anuncian nueva aerolinea 'low cost' en Mexico, Publicado el 5/7/2005
NUEVA YORK.- La aerolínea brasileña GOL Linhas Aereas Inteligentes GOL.N* dijo el martes que acordó lanzar un operador de bajos costos con sede en México.
La compañía dijo que firmó un memorándum de entendimiento con Inversiones y Técnicas Aeroportuarias, el empresario mexicano Fernando Chico Pardo y CPH para iniciar la creación de una aerolínea de bajo costo, basada en el modelo que GOL opera actualmente en Brasil. (Reuters) "
By Paul Betts, Financial Times
The market capitalisation of airline stocks has fallen more than $10bn since oil prices started their latest upward spiral in February.
The response of some large carriers, such as British Airways, is to continue pushing up the fuel surcharge introduced last year on airline tickets to offset the rise in jet fuel prices.
Low-cost airlines are still resisting, betting on picking up more customer volumes with cheap fares. Others, such as Lufthansa or Air France-KLM, have so far held back further increases, although the German airline did put up its surcharge for freight this week.
How far can airlines continue offloading the cost of fuel on travellers? Probably as much as the market will take. And if all other taxes and charges already imposed on tickets are added, they must be getting close to the limit...
FT.com: Major US supermarkets downgraded:
"S&P cited increased competition in particular from Wal-Mart stores supercenters, which offer both groceries and general merchandise, as well as from Costco, the discount warehouse club, drug stores, and low cost dollar stores.
On Tuesday, Fitch credit rating agency said it had changed its outlook on Kroger and Albertson's debt to negative, and affirmed its negative rating on Safeway. "
FT.com: Bank of America:
"So why pay $35bn to buy MBNA? The usual suspects are advanced to justify the deal, and they are real enough. As part of BofA, MBNA should have a lower cost of funds. The company put this at $100m in 2007, but that looks conservative, given the likely 150 basis point differential in their respective cost of deposits.
Furthermore, although BofA's track record on cross-selling is strong, it will eventually outgrow the available pool of high-credit branch customers. MBNA brings enviable customers as well as marketing skills.
But are they each worth as much as this deal suggests? The acquisition is expensive, at a premium to receivables of over 20 per cent. This at a time when overall growth in the credit card market is disappointing. Some of this may be cyclical. A housing boom has meant some consumers preferring home equity loans to large credit card balances. But the sluggishness of the market is also down to its maturity - a fact that consumers have cottoned on to as they wait for the next zero per cent teaser offer. Sometimes, organic growth can be just as exciting. "
FT.com - Daimler makes big productivity improvements:
"Nevertheless, Toyota Motor remains the most productive manufacturer, giving it a cost advantage of between $350-$500 per vehicle over Chrysler and the other two Detroit-based carmakers, General Motors and Ford Motor.
Ron Harbour, Harbour's president, said Toyota had created a virtuous circle, with low costs allowing it to add improvements to its vehicles, which other manufacturers could not match. Toyota took the attitude, he added, that "we may be on top, but we've got to act like we're on the bottom".
Mr Harbour said new models heightened the importance of flexible manufacturing: "Every company has to have the ability to quickly and inexpensively change the mix."
The survey points to a narrowing gap in the time taken by the most and least efficient manufacturers to build a vehicle, ranging from 27.9 hours at Toyota to just under 37 hours at Ford.
Chrysler "is not perfect by any means, but it's starting to show", Mr Harbour said, referring to the contribution of its German partner, Daimler-Benz, with which it merged in 1998.
Mr Harbour singled out Dieter Zetsche, Chrysler's chief executive for the past three years. "He didn't just come in there and walk over people. He's been able to mix the best of both worlds."
According to Mr Harbour, Chrysler is encouraging parts of its business to work as a team. It was no longer good enough for the purchasing department to bring down costs if lower-quality components caused disruptions on the assembly line."
Bank of America to Buy MBNA for $35 Billion - New York Times:
"MBNA's shares surged today, climbing $5.29, or 25.1 percent, to $26.36 around midday on the New York Stock Exchange. Bank of America's shares fell $1.03, or 2.2 percent, to $45.88.
The merger comes at a time when the credit card industry is rapidly consolidating. Already, the 10 largest issuers control about 85 percent of the market, according to The Nilson Report, a credit card industry newsletter. With Bank of America surpassing Citigroup as the country's largest card issuer, this deal could change the industry's landscape even more.
'Today's announcement is not only about the creation of one of the world's largest card providers - that is compelling in and of itself,' Mr. Lewis said in a statement. 'But it's really a much larger story about two companies with complementary strengths. The result will be the country's top retailer of financial services with the size and scale to drive distribution and marketing efficiencies.'
The size of the deal raises questions about the future of the stand-alone credit card companies, which have found it increasingly difficult to compete against with huge full-service banks on their own.
In early June, Washington Mutual, a big West Coast banking company, reached a deal to buy Providian Financial, a leading credit card issuer, in a $6.45 billion deal. Morgan Stanley has announced plans to spin off its Discover Financial business. And in March, Capital One, one of the nation's biggest credit card companies, greed to buy the Hibernia Corporation, a regional banking company based in New Orleans, for $5.35 billion.
Some analysts now suggest that Capital One itself, and potentially American Express, could be next on the auction block."