So, Dow 10,000 again. Will it last a week? Longer? We’ll see. Meanwhile the economy may or may not be rebounding, depending on how you look at it; GDP rose 1.4 percent in the last quarter of 2001. We’ve heard about “soft landings,” are you ready for a “soft takeoff”? Here’s more from the world of money.
Substance-Free Hewlett-Packard Update: The company’s CEO, Carly Fiorina, is out selling shareholders on a planned merger with Compaq. On Feb. 22, deal critic Walter Hewlett labeled an HP letter to shareholders part of “an unseemly campaign to attack me,” and on the 26th he released another letter that accused the firm of hiding the details of the compensation deals that the current heads of HP and Compaq would receive under the deal. (The letters are available at this site.) HP responded in a letter that no such deals had been finalized and called his charges “bizarre.” A newspaper ad called Hewlett’s tactics “strident” and “belligerent.” A different ad mocked Hewlett for various “flip flops.” Little new light has been shed on the question of whether the Compaq merger makes sense, but the back-and-forth continues to entertain.
Junk at the Gap: The beleaguered Gap chain posted more lousy results and saw its debt downgraded to junk status. The company has been floundering for a long time, and its failure to turn things around is looking more and more dire. Fall Into the Abyss?
More Good News, Cable Fans: Disney has in the past spun its “re-purposing” efforts (which means recycling shows made for ABC on its cable properties) as a plus for consumers. So, in another boon for you, the TV viewer, the Barbara Walters and friends chat show The View will soon be rerun every night on A&E, in case you didn’t have a chance to catch it earlier in the day on ABC. Did you know that A&E no longer stands for Arts & Entertainment? Now it stands for nothing. Seriously.
Checking Out: The Wall Street Journal reports that boutique hotels are struggling, Ian Schrager says he’s “giving” uncool Americans “access” to his shmancy properties, and the W chain isn’t even calling itself a “boutique” anymore. Apparently it’s tough to make hipster exclusivity work on a mass scale.
Boring Business Headline of the Week: “A Sluggish Swiss Insurer Shifts Management a Bit,” from the New York Times (of course). The story can be found here, if you’re interested. (Thanks to Nick V. for this.)
How Else Could She Have Known? “Focus groups showed us that women are not that pathetic.”—Geraldine Laybourne, on lessons learned at Oxygen, the cable channel and media company she founded.
Proposal Regarding Stock Analysts: It’s unacceptable that so many stock analysts have recommended shares that subsequently collapsed. This column proposes the passage of a law specifying that from now on analysts must be correct about everything, so that “the little guy” can go back to following their advice blindly.
Obligatory Enron Comment: Am I the only person who thought Skilling mopped the floor with his Senate inquisitors? I didn’t see anybody lay a glove on him. I’m not defending Skilling, or what he said, or the likelihood that at the very least he’s not telling the whole truth. But the senators were lame, and more often than not they sounded like they had no idea what they were talking about. Do these show trials have any useful function? Wouldn’t it be more productive to let Floyd Norris ask the questions? In other news, my favorite baseball team (I’m from the Houston area) will pay $2.1 million to get the word “Enron” out of its life.
Recommended: DJ session by Nortec Collective member Fussible (part of the Other Latin Boom) on KCRW’s “Morning Becomes Eclectic.” A Face in the Crowd, made in 1957, is one of the most cutting examinations of marketing-think I’ve seen. (Thanks again, E.) A selection of Daniel Pearl’s articles for the Wall Street Journal. Hey, Crescent City readers (there are some, right?): Go vote on Saturday.