When I stopped by my broker's office to take care of some business today, the lady at the front desk mentioned what a bad month January has been. She was agreeing with a reporter on Bloomberg TV, who just said the same thing (Bloomberg is on in the lobby). Yet she seemed in good spirits despite it all, and let's hope it wasn't just a matter of putting on a brave face.
Now on to the weekend -- and some weekend reading:
- The US economy shrank the most in the fourth quarter since 1982, and things are likely to remain bad at least for the first half of this year. At least. Reports I heard on NPR stated the shrinkage wasn't as bad as most economists expected, which could be seen as a good sign, in a perma-bull kind of way. Bloomberg offers up an overview of Friday's news on this.
- Staying with Bloomberg, Michael Sesit recommends vouchers as a way to lessen the severity of recession for Americans in the short term: "Issue vouchers to individuals or families that can be used to buy goods and services and that expire after a set period of time, say, a year, meaning they can’t be saved. That guarantees the increased deficit spending and 100 percent of the $275 billion will be devoted to boosting demand -- the object of the stimulus program." I don't know if I agree, or even like the idea of "short term" solutions. Part of me would rather see sensible tax policy and something the federal government has never done -- serious down-sizing of the federal government itself. Nevertheless, Sesit's suggestion is interesting.
- Portfolio holding 3i Group (III/LN) saw its stock price sink even more since changing CEOs, with several large stake holders dumping their shares and persistent rumors the company was going to do a dilutive rights offering. The Financial Times reports that several 3i directors have been buying stock, which contradicts any idea of a rights offering. We'll see.
- Aside from my two Japanese consumer lenders, perhaps my worst investment has been Media General (MEG/NYSE). Maoxian politely chastised me for buying it, as the Chairman has been Bearish on anything to do with newspaper stocks since before such views were fashionable. Media General has just announced yet more terrible results, and has eliminated its dividend.
- Africa-Asia Confidential reports that China's trade and investment in Africa will continue growing despite the credit crunch. Typically excellent stuff, and a bit long. Print it out and read it in its entirety, and you won't be disappointed.
And with that -- a great weekend to one and all. See you next week.