September 24 2007 by Francis Adams
Coinciding moments of turbulence!
Former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan’s book The Age of Turbulence topped the Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com online best-seller charts last week. The encouraging sale of the book coincided with a turbulent week for the markets that, according to the must-read blog Market Insider by CNBC’s Patti Domm “are trying to find the right pitch after the Fed’s big rate move.”
Domm steered clear from writing a purely opinionated blog, yet has covered lot of ground, beginning with the records that were created during the past week – “record high oil, record low dollar, 25-year high in gold and effectively record high stock prices” – to forecasting the turn of events expected this week that may provide hints, especially to corporate executives of whether turbulent markets are having an impact on profits.
The Fed’s decision invited skepticism in equal measure as some of the experts delved on the aftereffects of the rate cuts. The Wall Street Journal’s E. S. Browning touched upon the lingering fear nationwide as he stated: “By lowering rates before it really wanted to, however, the central bank has revived another fear that had been dying down: inflation.”
Barron’s Alan Abelson chose to write: “Beyond its resounding impact on equity prices, Mr. Bernanke’s mucho macho cut in both the discount and the federal-funds rate may prove more an instant wonder than an enduring influence.”
However, Businessweek.com’s Aaron Pressman, using Northern Trust economist Asha Bangalore’s chart on the impact of the Fed’s rate cut gave a positive outlook in his blog titled “Concrete signs the Fed’s move is working, a little“.
Talking about Greenspan, Fortune managing editor Andy Serwer in his Captain’s Blog has written an interesting interaction he had with the former Fed chairman. Serwer seems to be as bold in his writing as the questions he asks accomplished people such as Greenspan. He wrote that he asked Greenspan whether he deserved credit for the splendid run the capital markets enjoyed during his tenure, adding, “(Yes, yes I also asked if he deserved blame for the two bubbles, tech and housing. For the record: “No.”) Greenspan demurred.”
Executive pay: The ongoing saga
Interestingly, amid all the eye-catching news in the financial markets, the issue of executive pay continued to rake its head up last week. A peculiar news blog by cnet’s news.com said that Hewlett-Packard’s board of directors finally bowed to the demand of the company’s shareholders in tying executive pay to performance. The blog said the proposal was floated after shareholders showed their displeasure over the $21.1 million compensation given to ex-CEO Carly Fiorina following her removal by the board.
However, news reports contradicted that claim. A Bloomberg report said the Palo-Alto, California-based company will allow executives stock grants only after they have met
financial performance targets over a three-year period. It further said the pay plan was initiated by investor William Steiner, who said Chief Executive Officer Mark V Hurd may have been overpaid when he received about $20 million in compensation last year. Shareholders from close to 60 other
Presidential candidates going for the buck
Pesidential candidates seem to be unperturbed by the dollar taking a beating. Among Reuters’ veteran political correspondents, Jeremy Pelofsky, warned in his blog: “Guard your wallet, here come the candidates.”
Political candidates, he wrote, have only nine days to go in their latest fundraising quarter, so, “they are scouring the countryside to round up dollars in hopes they can announce big numbers that convince voters they have broad support and can win.”
According to his blog, John Edwards led the pack of Democrats, hoping to raise $1 million online before the Sept 30 deadline.
The Democrats also have cause to celebrate as some CEOs and other corporate executives, who had backed the Republicans and President George W Bush during his re-election in 2004, have switched allegiance by aiding the Dems running for president.
Senator Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are the frontrunners to receive help from about 60 executives, with prominent names including Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corp., Terry Semel, former CEO and now chairman of Yahoo! Inc. as well as John Mack, CEO of Morgan Stanley.