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Archive for April, 2009

Risk avalanche = higher yields

by henrycopeland
Wednesday, April 29th, 2009


But these bailouts are hugely risky — as reflected in the high cost of insuring government debt. Credit Derivatives Research’s government-risk index, which measures credit-default swap premiums on seven large sovereign borrowers including the U.S., U.K. and Japan, continued to rise this year even as the VIX fell. It currently stands at 75 compared to a pre-boom level of around 3 and implies a VIX in the 60s, according to CDR.

Though the Fed has been buying hundreds of billions in Treasuries and corporate bonds to keep a lid on rates, the government’s skyrocketing debt sales to fund the deficit, the gradual erosion of the foreign appetite for US debt and the fear that the Fed’s bond buying will itself eventually fuel inflation, make it inevitable that 30-year t-bond yields, currently at 4%, will be far higher in coming months and years.

Social radar

by henrycopeland
Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

Geography of jobs.

Swine flu map.

Testing new RSS tool

by henrycopeland
Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

Having screwed around with Yahoo Pipes and other RSS tools and found them never quite doing exactly what we needed, we’ve built a new tool to robustly combine and permutate feeds. If you’re interested in helping us test the tool, drop me a line.

Simple goals

by henrycopeland
Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

For all his pursuits, Hilton keeps his goal simple: Media domination.

Suit urself bub

by henrycopeland
Monday, April 27th, 2009

On a recent trip to New York, we stopped through Brooks Brothers on 44th and Madison, where I bought suits while I worked on Wall Street in the 80s.

Brooks Brothers, once Wall Street’s bustling official dressing room, was a silk-strewn and worsted-wool-festooned desert.

Of course, two seconds of thinking made it obvious that no sane banker is today spending $80 on a hank of silk to wrap around his neck when in doubt about his job prospects. A simple rope will do.

And who wants to spend $1600 on a suit, below, and then find himself only wearing said suit to Starbucks to sip coffee and browse TheLadders? A track suit will suffice.

Suits are useless as anything other than social devices traditionally deployed to signal that the wearer is not a manual laborer, that the wearer is a cut or three above the hoi polloi. White collar and all that, don’t ya know.

But now, of course, a suit is worn predominantly by folks who made a bunch of lousy bets with other people’s money or who are now living large on the public dole.

When the economy comes back, will the suit return too? Not if banking loses its aura as an esteemed dynamo of capitalist innovation. You don’t find a soul wearing a suit at SXSW, where the creative class — programmers, designers, writers and ad execs — gather to hobnob every March. Suits may soon the way of the top hat, the cummerbund and 3% ten year US T-notes.

Newspaper free-fall

by henrycopeland
Monday, April 27th, 2009

Newspapers plummeting versus last March:

USA TODAY — 2,113,725 – (-7.46%)
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL — 2,082,189 — 0.61%
THE NEW YORK TIMES — 1,039,031 — (-3.55%)
LOS ANGELES TIMES — 723,181 — (-6.55%)
THE WASHINGTON POST — 665,383 — (-1.16%)

DAILY NEWS (NEW YORK) — 602,857 — (-14.26%)
NEW YORK POST — 558,140 — (-20.55%)
CHICAGO TRIBUNE — 501,202 — (-7.47%)
HOUSTON CHRONICLE — 425,138 — (-13.96%)
THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC — 389,701 — (-5.72%)

THE DENVER POST (02/28/2009 to 03/31/2009) — 371,728 — N/A
NEWSDAY — 368,194 — (-3.01%)
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS — 331,907 — (-9.88%)
STAR-TRIBUNE, MINNEAPOLIS — 320,076 — (-0.71%)
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES — 312,141 — (-0.04%)

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE — 312,118 — (-15.72%)
THE BOSTON GLOBE — 302,638 — (-13.68%)
THE PLAIN DEALER, CLEVELAND — 291,630 — (-11.70%)
DETROIT FREE PRESS — 290,730 — (-5.90%)
THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER — 288,298 — (-13.72%)

THE STAR-LEDGER, NEWARK, N.J. — 287,082 — (-16.82%)
ST. PETERSBURG (FLA.) TIMES — 283,093 — (-10.42%)
THE OREGONIAN, PORTLAND — 268,512 — (-11.76%)
SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE — 261,253 — (-9.53%)

Microsoft ad sales off 14%, blames display

by henrycopeland
Monday, April 27th, 2009

I didn’t want to miss Microsoft’s report last week. CNN reported: “Microsoft’s Online Services division, which includes the online portal MSN and its Internet advertising sales, lost $575 million in the quarter, and sales in the division were down 14% from the same quarter a year earlier. Microsoft said the loss in its ad sales division was due to the significant decline of average rates in display advertising.”

Yahoo display off 13% in Q1 versus prior year

by henrycopeland
Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Marketing services revenues from Yahoo owned and operated sites slipped 10% to $872 million in the first quarter from $966 million last year, driven by a 3% decline in search advertising revenue and a 13% drop in display advertising revenue.”

How big is the blogger army?

by henrycopeland
Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

There’s been a lot of what the Hungarians call “hooo-ha” over Mark Penn’s recent WSJ article about the burgeoning army of salaried bloggers in the US.

The lede sets the tone: “In America today, there are almost as many people making their living as bloggers as there are lawyers. Already more Americans are making their primary income from posting their opinions than Americans working as computer programmers or firefighters.”

But the data just doesn’t line up with Penn’s assertion. First, we’re told that “20 million Americans” blog. Later, we’re told that “bloggers who do it for a living successfully are 2% of bloggers overall.” That would be 40k bloggers. But somehow this number inflates to 452,000 people who “use blogging as their primary source of income.” Then we hear that “Most bloggers for hire … do it for about 35 months, and make a few hundred dollars.”

The final statement is correct. The rest is what we Americans call hooey.

NYT.com ad sales down 8% in Q1 over ’08

by henrycopeland
Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

AP reports: “While most of the erosion was concentrated in the Times Co.’s newspapers, its Internet ad revenue also sagged by 8 percent, or $3.6 million.”

The online advertising pie is still growing slightly even in the recession, but the number of publishers with forks is growing much faster.

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