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Current Topic: Economics

Internet use causes fewer rock super stars
Topic: Economics 1:21 pm EDT, Apr 16, 2002

"the study analyzed the Billboard Top 200 charts -- reflecting weekly album sales -- from 1991 to 2000. Over the 10-year period, they found a 31.5 percent increase in the number of different artists on the Top 200, indicating that more new artists are hitting the charts than ever before, pushing established musical acts from the charts or keeping them from hitting the charts at all.
The biggest change occurred from 1998 to 2000, when there was a 10 percent increase in the number of different artists who hit the Billboard 200.
The researchers link the trend to rapid growth in the number of Internet users -- from 3 million to 116.7 million -- over the past 10 years and the emergence of music-sharing services such as Napster, which has led to widespread online music sampling and piracy. "

Internet use causes fewer rock super stars

Telecoms Stocks Fall as Hopes Dashed
Topic: Economics 12:37 pm EDT, Apr 10, 2002

The hard hit telecom sector took another battering on Tuesday as Verizon ... warned there would be no growth in revenues ... [From Bloomberg, Reuters: What's more, Verizon said it doesn't expect improvement in revenue growth in the near term. It wasn't more specific.] ... Analysts warned investors to brace themselves for more bad news.

"First quarter results are expected to remain depressed across all companies in the telecom sector." SoundView lowered earnings estimates for BellSouth, citing Argentina and Venezuela; stock loses 7% to hit 4 year low. ... Verizon will take a $2.5B charge and does not expect growth; stock down 3%. WorldCom promises to cut capex but still loses over 10%. SBC loses 4.5%, Sprint 3%, Quest 3%, Vodafone 3.5%, Nokia and Alcatel down. BT will cut 18,000 jobs and promises to find a way to pay off $14B in debt. Nortel maxes out its credit line for another $1.9B after banks decline to increase its limit; stock is down 51% this year. Analyst: "Nortel has sufficient resources to survive the downturn; the odds of a Nortel bankruptcy are less than 10%." ...

The telecoms sector continued to get slammed as investors worry that the slowdown may have more to do with industry fundamentals than with the economy. ... "People were thinking that the slowdown in the revenues and the lines were recession-related. (But) upon closer [inspection], they're starting to focus in on the likely secular declines in the revenue growth coming out of the basic local services companies. It really shouldn't come as a big surprise. The basic telecommunications service companies are facing some very challenging fundamentals."

Telecoms Stocks Fall as Hopes Dashed

Google's Toughest Search Is for a Business Model
Topic: Economics 1:34 pm EDT, Apr  8, 2002

...[Google] spent nothing to advertise their site and cut very few deals with other sites. ... Silicon Valley's hottest private company, one deluged with 1,000 résumés a day. ....

has its share of challenges. ... the leader in searching Web pages, but a tiny force in advertising ...

But the bigger question is whether Google has the scale to capture a viable share of the search advertising market. In other words, can Google create a business model even remotely as good as its technology?

Analyst: "The days of investing in Web sites we love are over. People rave about Google. But as a business, it will take an awful lot for them to catch up to [competitors]."

Founders: if they devote themselves to improving technology, users and advertisers will follow.

"We have pride that we are building a service that is really important to the world and really successful for the long term."

... The company is so infatuated with its technical prowess and sense of destiny that it has developed a reputation as being difficult to deal with.

"Serge and Larry are very blunt and very cocky. They honestly believe they can do a better job than other people, and they don't have any hesitation in saying that."

Google's CEO: "I think you need to win, but you are better off winning softly."

... The biggest challenge is balancing Google's increasing popularity with the needs and demands of the sites for which it provides search technology. ... But Google does not yet appear to have sufficient clout with some of the bigger sites.

"At the end of the day, Google is becoming more of a competitor to Microsoft and MSN. We want to work with partners who don't compete with us."

"You have to be careful if you start to smoke your own stuff and believe you are the only one who can build a great search engine."

Google's Toughest Search Is for a Business Model

Spotlight Falls on Adelphia Cable
Topic: Economics 12:05 pm EST, Apr  3, 2002

Talk about a high-performance engine! Adelphia should get out of the communications infrastructure business and start doing PR full time!

At 7:11 pm on Tuesday, this story hit the AP wire:

A shareholder lawsuit accused Adelphia of misleading stockholders about its financial condition by failing to disclose billions of dollars of off-balance-sheet debt ... accusing the company ... of issuing misleading statements. ... stock dropped from $20.39 on 3/26 to $13.12 on 4/1 to $11.83 on 4/2 ... incurred off-balance-sheet debt of $2.3B ... announced Monday its annual 10-K financial report was being delayed to review accounting for the debt.

Understandably, this news must have ruffled feathers at the company. So, after some poor soul no doubt spent a long night at the office, this story hits the wire at 12:47 am Wednesday morning:

Cable Company Keeps Small - Town Touch

Adelphia may be the sixth-biggest cable television company in the country, but founder John Rigas and family stay close to their roots in rural Coudersport, Pa., where Adelphia began 50 years ago as a $300 venture ...

The company has kept its headquarters in Coudersport, about 70 miles north of State College near the New York border, where Rigas, his sons and their families are familiar faces.

A town resident said: "The sons grew up here, they went to high school with us Their homes are right here. If we pass on the street, we say hello. ... John Rigas came to my dad's funeral and two of his sons came. That's the kind of community it is."

... gradually built their community antenna association into a larger cable operation ... They named their company "Adelphia," Greek for "brothers." ... branched out into sports properties ... John Rigas reached a handshake deal to buy the Pittsburgh Pirates ... only to have a California businessman outbid him ... family is involved in local affairs ... a member of the Rotary Club ... and the local hospital advisory committee ....

It's too bad this strategy won't work for Global Crossing ... but it'd be a hard sell to convince people that a firm with the word "Global" in its name has any of sort of small-town charm.

Spotlight Falls on Adelphia Cable

SecurityFocus home columnists: A Certified Waste of Time
Topic: Economics 8:51 pm EST, Apr  2, 2002

This story underlines the continuing problems the IT industry has with assessing employees before hire...

SecurityFocus home columnists: A Certified Waste of Time

Assessing the State of Dot-Com Start-Ups
Topic: Economics 12:04 pm EST, Mar 26, 2002

"Just when you thought the dot-com boom and bust had been safely put behind us, new studies suggest that more carnage lies ahead."

Assessing the State of Dot-Com Start-Ups

Telecom, Tangled in Its Own Web
Topic: Economics 1:53 pm EST, Mar 24, 2002

Thanks to a star-quality cast, the Enron wreck has been riveting theater. ... Yet while all eyes remain on Enron, a tragedy of identical plot but with far more damaging implications has been playing out on another stage. Unlike Enron's saga, this drama is not about a single, rogue company operating to enrich its executives. This tale is about an entire industry -- telecommunications -- that rose to a value of $2 trillion based on dubious promises by Wall Street and company executives of an explosive growth in demand for telecommunications services. When that demand failed to materialize, the companies were left with mountains of debt and little revenue.

... It is unclear whether many of these interlocking relationships served any economic purpose. ... There is no doubt that the mess is large ... some $1.4 trillion in investor wealth has evaporated ... 400,000 jobs in the telecommunications sector have vanished ... 61,000 jobs in the first two months of 2002 ...

"The underpinnings of the emerging telecom bubble were a phenomenal miscalculation. At the time it seemed like a logical progression of history: cellular, the Internet, the new thing. It was bold, it was risky, it was expensive. And it was wrong."

Telecom, Tangled in Its Own Web

Telecom Job Cuts Up, Worst Yet To Come
Topic: Economics 3:47 pm EST, Mar 19, 2002

The number of job cuts in the battered telecommunications industry this year is 42 percent greater than during the first two months of 2001, but things are likely to get worse before they get better, an employment firm said today.

... [B]ased on warnings by industry giants like Lucent and Nokia, the telecommunications employment picture will become even gloomier as the year progresses.

"Overcapacity, a glut of competitors and a lack of capital spending by companies on new networking and telecommunications equipment are making it difficult for even the strongest companies to avoid the turmoil," firm CEO John A. Challenger said in a news release.

Telecom Job Cuts Up, Worst Yet To Come

The Long, Humbling Quest for a Job in Technology
Topic: Economics 12:10 am EST, Mar 18, 2002

Three years ago, anyone with a computer science degree and a pulse could practically name his price in the job market as companies scrambled to dodge doomsday Y2K possibilities.

That atmosphere was later buoyed by demand from Internet companies, which offered not just high salaries but also stock options, beer bashes on Friday afternoons and a weekly massage.

By now, the end of that era has become an almost forgotten cliché. But what might surprise some people is the bleakness of the job outlook for a sector once thought impervious to the downturn: software programmers, with experience in code names like SQL, Unix, Java and C++.

The Long, Humbling Quest for a Job in Technology

Buffett rates his 2001 performance as 'poor'
Topic: Economics 4:56 am EST, Mar 11, 2002

"[Berkshire Vice Chairman] Charlie [Munger] and I are disgusted by the situation, so common in the last few years, in which shareholders have suffered billions in losses while the CEOs, promoters and other higher-ups who fathered these disasters have walked away with extraordinary wealth."

Buffett rates his 2001 performance as 'poor'

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