Monday, January 23, 2006

"Boring" Economic Bullshit

Stock futures rise after Ford results, deals

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stock futures edged up, pointing to slightly higher market opening on Monday, as easing crude oil prices, a higher-than-expected Ford Motor Co. (F.N: Quote, Profile, Research) profit and corporate deal activity lifted investor sentiment after Friday's fall to nearly three-year lows.


On Friday, Wall Street suffered its biggest loss in nearly three years, with the Dow average <.DJI> closing down 2 percent and Nasdaq <.IXIC> ending 2.4 percent lower.
Ford to drop 1,700 suppliers, keep 800: report

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co intends to cut the number of its suppliers around the world to around 800 over the next few years from about 2,500 now, industry paper Automotive News reported on Monday.
Ford drives past forecasts

NEW YORK ( - Ford Motor Co., hours ahead of an expected announcement about thousands of job cuts and widespread plant closings, posted much better-than-expected fourth quarter earnings Monday.

The nation's No. 2 automaker said it overcame losses at its core North American auto operations to earn $511 million, or 26 cents a share, excluding special items in the quarter. Analysts surveyed by earnings tracker First Call had forecast only a 1-cent a share profit in the period.

The company earned $554 million, or 28 cents per share, on that basis a year earlier.


Company executives have been signaling for several months that deep changes are needed. Mark Fields, president of Ford auto operations in the Americas, said it a speech earlier this month that American automakers had to "Change or die."

Published reports suggest that the assembly plants most at risk of closing are in Atlanta, St. Louis, St. Paul, Minn. and Wixom, Mich., as well as St. Thomas, Ontario, and Cuatitlan, Mexico. As many as 25,000 to 30,000 employees could be trimmed as part of the cutback.

The cutbacks follow a November announcement by competitor General Motors Corp. (Research) that it was cutting 30,000 hourly jobs and closing a dozen plants and facilities.
OK, I posted a lot of stuff there for you to digest, so let me summarize what I'm seeing here.

Ford made about 10% less money in one quarter in 2005, than in the same quarter in 2004. It beat analysts' estimates by a wide margin. Its stock goes up. I'm OK with that.

What I'm not OK with is the lay-off of 30,000 hardworking Americans from across the country, and our trading partners, Canada and Mexico. That giant sucking sound Ross Perot warned about wasn't just about US jobs, it seems.

A half a billion dollar profit goes a long way to paying the salaries and benefits for those workers, but Ford feels its more important to pay attention to its shareholders and the stock markets, apparently.

And for what? As PeterofLoneTree of Blondesense posted this past weekend (from the Dark Wraith Forums), not much:
"January 22, 2001 was the first day of trading after Mr. Bush became President. Three major indices stood at the following levels at the close of trading on that day:

Dow Jones Industrial Average: 10,578.24
Standard & Poor's 500: 1342.9
NASDAQ Composite: 2757.91

At the close of trading today, January 20, 2006, these same three averages stood at the following levels:

Dow Jones Industrial Average: 10,667.39
Standard & Poor's 500: 1,261.49
NASDAQ Composite: 2,247.70"
How many refrigerators, houses, cars, meals, college educations, Xboxes, were going to be bought by these 30,000 folks?

A lot more than the shareholders were going to buy with their 26 cents, I can guaran-damn-tee you.

In the thread below, a discussion was generated about how Rome fell: was it the Caesars or the people?

It was both. The Caesars had the power to change things, but didn't because they were beholden to economic interests (mostly their own, but there were factions, of course, in the Senate who influenced policy), but the people had a duty and obligation to reject the bread and circuses that were being foisted upon them (see a resemblance to Fox News in the gladiatorial games?) in favor of real reforms.

And they failed as miserably as the emperors did.

tags technorati :