December 2008 / January 2009

December 2008 / January 2009

December 2008 / January 2009

A new and different recession? Amid many uncertainties, this recession is proceeding as every recession is supposed to, according to one bank economist we know. Traditional signs associated with recovery are being glimpsed, e.g., in the area of inventory bounce-back. What’s different? This recession is global. Of course, so is the economy. Meanwhile, the top business forecasting group strikes a similar chord: we can anticipate U.S. recovery underway by mid-year.

Fluke or harbinger. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports union membership jumped by 311,000 last year, reversing a 30-year fall from 21 million to 15.7 million. Some academics have called the jump a statistical fluke, but labor leaders are looking to the new administration and rising employee anxiety to reverse labor’s long slide.

Stop the presses (contd). In a cash-flow crisis, The New York Times Company plans to borrow $225 million against its brand-new Manhattan headquarters. Meanwhile, the Tribune Company, parent company of the Los Angeles Times, has filed for Chapter 11 after posting a $124 million loss. Sic transit gloria wuxtry.

Class-action: live at five. A recent study of federal class-action lawsuits showed two-thirds of the cases were voluntarily dismissed or remanded to state court. Not a single case among the 231 lawsuits was resolved through summary judgment or by a verdict. Most plaintiffs in cases raising class allegations never even got class-action status. Outcomes aside, all it takes to sully a company’s reputation is a class-action mention in the media.

To cut or to spend. Some law firms are taking drastic steps to tighten their marketing budgets, but others are increasing theirs in 2009 to build business. We would bet on the latter.

A winning face. People, it seems, can guess the relative success of a company simply by looking at a photo of the CEO. Participants in a recent study were shown photos of the leaders of the 25 highest and lowest ranking Fortune 1000 companies. They generally had no problem spotting the more successful face.

Orator max. As we witness the inauguration of our 44th President, which inaugural address is widely regarded as the finest in our nation’s history and why? A book goes to the first correct respondent.

Quote to note. “There cannot be a crisis today; my schedule is already full.” ~ Henry Kissinger

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