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Bob Blandeburgo

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Is Incoming Bank of America CEO Moynihan "More of the Same?"

Bank of America Corp.'s (NYSE: BAC) decision to appoint Brian Moynihan as its next president and chief executive officer puts the pressure on Moynihan and the bank's board of directors to prove to investors that the company is serious about changing direction.

Moynihan joined Bank of America via its 2004 merger with FleetBoston Financial and has held several positions since. While technically an insider, Moynihan sits outside BofA's executive circle in Charlotte, N.C.

"This is a real break with the past," Tony Plath, a finance professor at the University of North Carolina and a close follower of BofA's many executive "tribes" told The Wall Street Journal. "It signals to the market that the FleetBoston guys are in charge of the bank now."

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Low November Job Losses Shock, but The Jobless Recovery Continues

November payrolls fell by much less than expected - declining by just 11,000 - and the unemployment rate fell to 10.0%, the U.S. Department of Labor said Friday. But while it's becoming more apparent that the U.S. job market is closer to growth, caution is still the buzzword as the jobless recovery continues.

When growth does return the consensus is that getting back the roughly 7.2 million jobs lost since the recession began in December 2007 won't be an overnight phenomenon.

"I think it's a little bit premature for champagne, but after enduring two years of really bad news, let's enjoy this one," Jay Bryson, an economist with Wells Fargo Securities (NYSE: WFC) told "You've got to walk before you start running. I don't think we're walking yet, but we're starting to get back up on our feet."

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With NBC Deal Done, Comcast Becomes the New Cable Juggernaut

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA) will acquire a 51% stake in General Electric Co.’s (NYSE: GE) NBC Universal Inc. for $13.75 billion in cash and assets, giving the cable giant lucrative cable channels including SyFy, Bravo and the USA Network, as well as Universal Pictures and its related theme parks in California, Florida and Japan.

But for GE, the deal is a precursor to and eventual exit from the media business.

"This isn’t just one of the biggest media deals, this is arguably one of the biggest M&A deals in years," Wunderlich Securities Inc. analyst Matthew Harrigan, who recommends buying Comcast shares, told Bloomberg News.

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GM's Search for CEO Won't Likely Be Part of the "Old Guard"

The circumstances surrounding the resignation of General Motors (NYSE: GRM) Chief Executive Officer Fritz Henderson are still unclear. But it's likely that whoever succeeds Henderson will no doubt have a turnaround plan more compatible with that of the company's board, and will likely come from outside of GM's ranks.

Henderson, who resigned Tuesday, was a longtime GM veteran who joined the company's treasurer's office in 1984. The Detroit-born Henderson is the son of a former GM executive. He became CEO in March after the Obama administration ousted then-CEO Rick Wagoner.

And therein was the problem: Henderson was so firmly entrenched in GM and its old culture that it was trying to shake, the board lost confidence in his ability to transform the company that would one day emerge from years of declining market share, a tainted consumer perception, and ultimately, bankruptcy.

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South Korea's Exports Rise, but Future Looks Murky

Year-over-year exports from South Korea rose for the first time in 13 months amid higher shipments to two of the world's largest economies. However, future sustainability of the export-based economy is made uncertain by questions surrounding the removal of global stimulus measures. Overall shipments rose 18.8% to $34.3 billion in the first 20 days of November, Korea's Ministry of Knowledge Economy said yesterday (Tuesday). Roughly one-third of shipments were to the stimulus-backed economies of China and the United States, where exports increased by 52% and 6.1%, respectively.

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As Bank Failures Grow, FDIC Options Narrow

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) will likely have tap its credit line with the U.S. Treasury or impose more special premiums on banks, to ensure U.S. banks are fully supported.

While FDIC-insured banks reported a net income of $2.8 billion in the third quarter, bank lending fell by 2.8%, the most since records were first kept in 1984 and the fifth consecutive quarter loan balances declined. The FDIC's Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) went into the red at the end of September and the bank insurer today (Tuesday) revealed just how steep the loss it was when the quarter ended: $8.2 billion.

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U.S. Economy Will Grow Faster Than Expected, Jobs to Return to Growth Next Year, Economists Say

The U.S. economy will grow faster than expected next year, but job growth will begin later than previously thought, according to a survey of business economists.

A panel of 48 economists surveyed by the National Association for Business Economics (NABE) showed gross domestic product (GDP) in the United States will grow by 3.2%, but job losses won't bottom until the first quarter of next year. A previous NABE forecast said employers would add 12,000 to payrolls in that quarter.

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Lazard Puts Future in M&A with New CEO

In a signal of confidence for the future of mergers-and-acquisitions (M&A), Lazard Ltd. (NYSE: LAZ) appointed Kenneth Jacobs as its chairman and chief executive officer following the unexpected death of famed dealmaker Bruce Wasserstein.

Jacobs, a 21-year company veteran, was most recently CEO of Lazard North America and has a history of leading M&A advisory teams.

“Jacobs is clearly qualified for the position because he has run the North American operations of the company,” Dick Bove, vice president and equity research analyst at Rochdale Securities LLC told Bloomberg Television. “It should be positive for Lazard.”

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Japan's Economic Growth Accelerates, but Deficit Raises Concerns

Stimulus measures in Japan helped the world's second-largest economy grow at its fastest pace in more than two years, but it's unlikely policymakers will reduce spending despite the nation's rapidly growing debt.

Gross domestic product (GDP) in Japan grew at 4.8% annual rate in the third quarter, surpassing all the forecasts of 20 economists polled by Bloomberg News. That follows a revised gain of 2.7% in the three months ended June 30, according to Japan's Cabinet Office. Japan's economy grew 1.2% on a quarterly basis.

"The turnaround in public investment has definitely contributed to the rebound in GDP, so if they do start to cut it'll weigh on growth,” Hiromichi Shirakawa, chief Japan economist at Credit Suisse Group AG (NYSE ADR: CS), told Bloomberg.

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Removal of Stimulus Packages Next Year Poses Bubble, Credit Risks Says World Bank’s Zoellick

The global economy must be wary of bubble and credit risks in 2010 as central banks around the world begin removing stimulus, warned World Bank President Robert Zoellick yesterday (Wednesday).

Speaking to the press at the Singapore Foreign Correspondents Association, Zoellick said policymakers must be vigilant in preventing asset bubbles and that the private sector is needed to stoke demand.

"And so when that stimulus money has run its course, then the question will be, will the private sector rebuild demand?" he said. Part of the problem going forward for East Asian economies is policymakers typically follow the U.S. Federal Reserve. However, nations choosing to do this may face challenges because the recovery won’t be symmetrical.

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The Three Key Economic Issues Obama Will Tackle In His First Asia Trip

When U.S. President Barack Obama this week makes his first visit to Asia as the nation's chief executive, he will have no shortage of issues to address. However, there are three key subjects that he will pay particular attention to.
  • China's currency, the yuan, which Beijing keeps undervalued to boost exports.
  • The large trade imbalance between China and the United States.
  • And a pending free trade agreement (FTA) with South Korea.
Analysts believe President Obama will push to ratify a free trade deal with South Korea that was signed in 2007 but has failed to pass legislatures in both countries. Many also hope he will pursue other agreements like it.

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Disney Gets Nod for Shanghai Theme Park

It's been in the works for more than a decade, but The Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) finally got the approval it needed from China's government to build a theme park in Shanghai.

Disney's fourth park outside the United States will be the first on mainland China, giving the company a new avenue to market its popular properties in the restriction-laden Red Dragon. The park, to be located in the Pudong district between Shanghai's main international airport and its downtown area, will target China's growing middle class.

"Shanghai Disney would be a huge boom," Shaun Rein, managing director of China Market Research Group told Bloomberg News. "You have 80 million people within 3 hours' driving distance."

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Hot Stocks: Google's Drive for Dominance Extends Into the Burgeoning Smartphone Market

Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG) was founded in 1996 and went on to become the undisputed king of Internet search and advertising. Ten years later, it brought its ubiquitous search engine to mobile phones with the launch of Google Mobile.

And now, with the proliferation of smartphones, Google is pursuing a broader range of mobile initiatives that will make it a leader in mobile software and take its advertising business into territory that so far has been uncharted.

Google's original business model, as it applies to its trademark search engine, was to give away a product and have it funnel users to its targeted ads. Last year, the company built on that model by giving away its operating system (OS), Android, to any wireless handset maker that would have it.

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Microsoft Releases Windows 7, Opens First Retail Store

As Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) released its much-talked about Windows 7 operating system, the software giant quietly opened its first retail store in Scottsdale, Arizona. It's no coincidence that the store's opening coincided with the launch of Windows 7, but the true goal of the Microsoft Store is to put the Microsoft brand back into […]

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Banks Threatened as Washington Takes on Overdraft Fees

Charges related to overdrawn accounts this year may add up to $38.5 billion in revenue for banks following last year's $36.7 billion, according to data from research firm Moebs Services Inc. That's up from $28 billion collected in 2007, according to consulting firm Oliver Wyman Group. But sneaky and manipulative ways in which banks collect […]

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