Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Jean-Claude Trichet sees the Bottom!

Jean-Claude Trichet, speaking on behalf of the world's central bankers, sees the Eurozone bottoming out and the world economy turning around. Chris Giles, Daniel Pimlott, and Ralph Atkins in the Financial Times report that "The global economy was 'around the inflection point', he said, with some countries 'being beyond the inflection point'." They report further that the OECD declares "there were signs of a 'pause' in the economic slowdown in France, Italy, the UK and China."

Friday, May 08, 2009

The April Employment Report

It is the first Friday and whether or not you do the First Friday devotions, the Bureau of Labor Statistics issued its employment report for April.

The employment report came out better than Wall Street anticipated, but it was still pretty awful. The establishment survey still showed a huge 539,000 job loss. Employment in the household survey was up. Perhaps not statistically significant, perhaps just noise, but I'll take it.

In the establishment data, services took the same hit as goods production (down 269,000 jobs vs 270,000). Private jobs in services fell even more dramatically (down 341,000) with the difference coming from the growth in government jobs.

The aircraft industry looks to have lost 4,700 jobs in April.

In terms of the Postal Service, printing etc. was down almost eight thousand, paper down three and a half thousand, and finance was down twenty five thousand.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Signs of A Recovery?

Australia's employment was up, unexpectedly, in March and the unemployment rate fell from 5.7 percent to 5.4 percent.

Rupert Murdock keeps pace of the world economy by monitoring revenues from his vast media enterprises around the world. These are heavily dependent on advertising which is cyclical like capital expenditures. At a News Corp. earnings call, he said, "I am not an economist…but it is increasingly clear that the worst is over….As you know, I have been uncharacteristically pessimistic in recent calls, though I would argue that it was a well-founded concern. But there are emerging signs in some of our businesses that the days of precipitous decline are done and that revenues are beginning to look healthier.” Peter Kafka's whole posting is worth reading.

Nina Koeppen and Jonathan House report in the Wall Street Journal, "More European indicators are beginning to show some tentative signs of the recession easing in the second quarter, with German business sentiment leading the way.

"German business confidence improved at the start of the second quarter, after hitting a record low in March, indicating that the worst of the economic slump may soon be over, a survey from the German Ifo Institute showed Friday.

"The Ifo business climate index rose to 83.7 from a revised 82.2 in March, which marked the lowest level since records began in 1991."


Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Richard Pratt, R.I.P. 1934 – 2009

Australia in 1940-41 had its back to the wall. A country of maybe six million people spread out over an area almost as big as the lower 48 U.S. states, it faced imminent invasion from Japan. Documents released in the last twenty years indicate the government had concluded the defense of the continent was hopeless: it planned to concede 60% of the country and fall back on guerrilla war for the rest.

One lesson learned was that it needed a bigger population if it were to defend itself and preserve its culture. In the decades after the war, it encouraged immigration from Europe. One of these "New Australians" who did very well for himself, thank you very much, was Richard Pratt. The Wall Street Journal tells us, "Mr. Pratt was born Ryszard Precicki in Gdansk in 1934." Mr. Pratt built an enormous empire in the cardboard business (Visy Industries.) As former Primme Minister John Howard eulogized, "He combined all the positive elements that migrants successfully gave so much to our country.

"He became in many ways the example of things regarded as Australian - sport, success, family and commitment. "

Mr. Howard was not the only big wig to attend Pratt's funeral. Whoever was anybody in Victoria seemed to be there. You can read an account of his funeral in the Telegraph.

His fortune was estimated at 2.3 billion Aussie dollars. You can find a gallery of pictures on the Telegraph's site.

The Aussie media, ever ready for a bit of sensationalism, also made a big deal of his lady friend, a Shari-Lea Hitchcock.

On November 30th, 2005, Pratt Industries of Conyers, Georgia announced it had bought the Love Box Company here in Wichita. The Wichita Business Journal reported that Pratt Industries is controlled by Visy.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Kansas Ranks #3 In MaintStreet.com's Financial Happiness Index

Based on our ranking in unemployment (#11), foreclosures (#17) and non-mortgage debt to income (#6), Kansas scored #3 in MainStreet.com's financial happiness index.

Good news for Jayhawks, even if the Cornhuskers came in first. They do have Warren Buffet, after all.