City Republic - Apple rescues global stock markets
If you'd written that headline a few years ago you'd either have been consigned to the funny farm or, at the very least, invited to pursue your career elsewhere.
Ever since commercials director Ridley Scott blasted a hole in the gong of ignorance in 1984 (the ad that launched the Macintosh computer -- which only ran once, by the way) Apple has struggled to make the world the way it wanted to and fought a losing a battle with Microsoft (Bill Gates realised that the software was the thing, you could run it on any old rubbish).
Apple founder CEO Steve Jobs came and went, handing over to a bloke from PepsiCo, and Apple was going nowhere.
Now Jobs is back and, hey presto, he's discovered the joys of collaboration, with Intel and, even Bill Gates.
He returned to the company, brought out the iPod and the OS X operating system and the rest is almost instant history.
OS X is much more like Windows and Apple is therefore selling buckets of computers to people who thought they had to have a PC.
From being a niche brand (designers mostly) it's now a mainstream brand and it's making money hand over fist.
Obviously iPods help, as do iPhones. But it's the computers which are doing the business.
So this formerly wacky, niche company reported wonderful figures this week (a 67% increase in quarterly earnings, to $904m, topped with a confident forecast for the rest of the year) and Wall Street stopped worrying about the housing market, banks going bust and all the rest of it.
As did the rest of the world.
Keep taking the tablets Steve.
Merrill feels more pain.
Big investment bank Merrill Lynch reports third quarter earnings (if there are any) later today and the New York Times says it will add a further $2.5bn to the S5bn write-down on mortgage-backed securities it has already announced.
This shouldn't be enough on its own to send Wall Street into another tailspin, but you never know.
There's a dollar crisis -- apart from the US, strangely.
The dollar is sinking like a stone against every currency you can think of, apart from the Chinese renminbi, which is pegged to the greenback.
The International Monetary Fund, and others, is getting its knickers in a twist about this because every other time the dollar has lost value at this rate the world has gone into recession.
But it's a different world.
There's a G7 meeting going on at the moment of the world's supposed big economic players but it doesn't include China, India or Brazil and Russia (re-arranged as the BRICs).
So it's meaningless.
Is the US worried?
Yes, because people are dumping dollars and US bonds in favour of higher-earning investments. No, because for the first time in years, US rust belt businesses (like cars) have the chance to rebuild their positions.
This quarter General Motors sold more cars than Toyota even though all the wiseacres said that Toyota was going to take over as world number one (GM has been top for 76 years).
The 'analysts' say that Toyota will do the business next time, but the yen is appreciating rapidly against the dollar so Japanese exporters are sushi'd.
In the run-up to an election the Republicans will let the dollar sink, cut interest rates a bit more, and claim they've revived US industry.
And they might have.
Former agent Grade eyes James Grant for ITV.
Michael Grade started as a showbiz agent so it's not surprising that he's said to want to buy agent James Grant, run by former DJ Peter Powell and his partner Russ Lindsay.
Grant represents Ant and Dec and Simon Cowell, key ITV ‘properties' so it looks a bargain at a suggested £30m.
Grade needs something to deflect attention from the phone-in scandal (he's already announced the return of News at Ten of course).
Mind you, as both Ant and Dec and Cowell's shows depend rather a lot on phone-ins he might just not succeed.
Darling holds the line on Capital Gains Tax.
Much-maligned UK Chancellor Alastair Darling seems to be holding the line on capital gains tax at 18 per cent when you sell a business.
The ‘might' of the UK business community is up against him, saying the rate (after a certain period) used to fall to 10% via ‘taper relief', a wheeze introduced by predecessor Gordon Brown.
The 18% rate is supposed to penalize private equity wizards who've been paying 10% on their ginormous earnings.
The CBI and co are saying that 18% penalizes people who want to sell their businesses and retire.
Well it does, in the sense that some of them used to pay 10%.
But when lots of us pay 40% on our income it doesn't seem that harsh.
A case of the business community backing the wrong horse?
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