Thing One: Faceboook Fabulous: Disney, UPS, McDonald's, Bank of America, Caterpillar, Kraft Foods: In two weeks, Facebook will probably be worth more than any of these fly-by-night outfits.
Does that make any sense? Who cares? It is time for us all to get very very excited, like we do, about people getting exorbitantly wealthy, now that Facebook has filed for an initial public offering that could make it worth between $77 billion and $96 billion, bigger than the market values of all of the companies listed above (along with the vast majority of other companies in the world, including American Express, Occidental Petroleum, Comcast, Home Depot and more).
The IPO will set all kinds of records, the Wall Street Journal notes, including the most valuable tech company at IPO (beating Google's $23 billion valuation in 2004 by a mile) and the most valuable company, period, at IPO (beating UPS at $60 billion in 1999). For some reason, Bloomberg finds it headline-worthy that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's stake, worth up to $18 billion, will make him richer than Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer. Good point, Bloomberg, and also he will be richer than the vast majority of other humans on earth. But Steve Ballmer too, yes.
Anyway, the question keeps arising: Does this make any sense? Many people are starting to have their doubts, including the WSJ, which notes that advertisers still aren't entirely sure what they're getting when they spend money to advertise to people who are busy stalking high school sweethearts and building up their Farmville empires. And revenue growth has slowed, the Financial Times notes. Maybe that's one reason long-time investors will be taking this opportunity to quietly parachute out of the company now, writes Heard on the Street's Rolfe Winkler.
Thing Two: Government Motors: While Facebook is in the spring-chicken-y phase of its life, General Motors is in, how do we put this, a different phase. The company yesterday reported first-quarter profits that were down 69 percent from a year earlier, dogged by troubles overseas and at home, the Wall Street Journal writes: "The profitability was certainly an improvement from the losses that plagued GM before its 2009 bankruptcy. But in many ways, GM is still feeling the effects of the financial crisis." The company is chafing under its government ownership stake, The New York Times writes. Treasury still owns 26 percent of it, after bailing it out during the crisis -- but it sounds like the company still needs the prop.
Thing Three: Econo-Nerd Christmas: In happier news, it's Jobs Friday, everybody! Hopefully happier news, anyway. The Labor Department releases April employment data at 8:30 a.m. ET, and economists are generally optimistic that this month's report will be better than March's anemic one, when the economy added just 120,000 jobs, well short of what was expected. Economists think payrolls will bounce back with a 170,000-job gain in April. But weekly jobless claims have been high, and there are signs that the economy may have slowed in the early spring, or at least that there could be some payback for a burst of activity during an unusually warm winter. It's a weird number, so anything can happen. Suffice it to say the job market is still lame, with too many people still unemployed and the new jobs mostly in low-wage industries, notes the Wall Street Journal's Spencer Jakab.
Thing Four: Sayonara, Sarkozy: The French election is coming up this weekend, on Sunday, and it will probably result in the ouster of President Nicolas Sarkozy. It's the latest step in a European rebellion against the belt-tightening measures that have kept it in recession, notes the Wall Street Journal: "Mr. Sarkozy could join the long list of leaders swept aside by Europe's economic crisis or by austerity measures that proved unpopular with voters. Ten have fallen so far, including Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi and Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero."
Thing Five: China May Open Up: Though this week's high-level talks between the U.S. and China have turned into a big honking embarrassment for both sides, thanks to the defection of hot-potato dissident Chen Guangcheng, maybe some long-term economic good will come out of it, the Washington Post writes: "China is prepared to agree on Friday to take several important steps to open up its markets and level the playing field for foreign businesses, according to a U.S. official...."
Thing Six: What The Frack? The U.S. government plans to announce new regulations on fracking, the Wall Street Journal reports, but has backed away from a requirement that companies disclose the chemicals they use for the process. It's another in a string of Obama administration regulatory retreats in the face of corporate jumping up and down and holding its breath: "The change, which disappointed environmentalists, is a fresh sign that the administration is heeding industry concerns after Republican complaints of overregulation."
Thing Seven: Gaga Goldman Gooses Gupta: Back in the crazy days of September 2008, the stock price of Goldman Sachs mysteriously surged just before America's favorite dirty old man Warren Buffett parachuted in with a rescue investment. It's evidence that somebody inside Goldman knew the deal was coming, and it's the latest wrinkle in the sprawling insider-trading case surrounding former Goldman director Rajat Gupta, the Wall Street Journal writes.
Thing Seven And One Half: If you're feeling a disturbance in the Force, that's because it's May Fourth, or Star Wars Day, or 420 for nerds, so chosen because "May Fourth" sounds sort of like "May the Force" be with you. Oh, nerds. Is there no end to your japery? If you're in Toronto, you should stop by the Star Wars Day celebration, with special guest Chad Vader, a benefit for the SickKids Foundation.
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Calendar Du Jour:
8:30 a.m. ET: Unemployment, nonfarm payrolls for April
Heard On The Tweets:
@LaMonicaBuzz: Take that, Facebook! LinkedIn earnings easily beat estimates. Also announces $119M deal for SlideShare. $LNKD up 8% after hours. $FB
@zerohedge: Unfortunately for everyone, Ben Bernanke has a BS in economics
@KejiaW: Dan Loeb goes after Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson. Says he lied about his computer science degree. Opps! #Yahoo #thirdpoint
@justinwolfers: Amazing how much effort goes into forecasting a number we'll learn tomorrow, & how little goes into forecasting conditions in a year or two.
-- Calendar and tweets rounded up by Khadeeja Safdar.