There are 4000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire, but only seven and a half things you need to know each day. Here they are:
Thing One: Defenestration Roundup: Today we introduce a new (periodically, when I feel like it) recurring feature of this morning business-news email: Who's Getting Defenestrated Now?
We start our tour in Sunnyvale, California, which is more like Stormyvale these days, am I right? That's the hometown of a little Interwebs company called Yahoo. Yesterday one of its directors, Patti Hart, agreed to defenestrate herself from the board amid a controversy over CEO Scott Thompson's educational background. Hart was in charge of the search that found Thompson for the CEO job, and apparently she neglected to phone up Stonehill College and ask if Thompson had a degree in accounting and computer science, or just accounting. The shame. Yahoo also formed a three-director committee to study Thompson's hiring. Keep that window open, guys, we have a feeling more defenestrations are coming. Meanwhile, Third Point founder Dan Loeb, who started all this foolishness in an effort to win more influence on the board, Bloomberg writes, must be feeling very proud of himself.
Next on our tour, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, where founder Robert Stiller was defenestrated from his chairmanship after he had to sell a bunch of company stock after the value of that stock dropped sharply because of lousy earnings, notes Peter Eavis of The New York Times. Stiller had borrowed heavily against his own shares, and his lenders wanted him to pony up some cash when the value of those shares dropped. Joining Stiller on the way out the window was lead director William Davis, subject to his own ginormous margin call.
Finally, a shareholder revolt against pay at British insurer Aviva has led to the window-exit of CEO Andrew Moss, who was looking for a tidy raise following a dismal share-price performance last year. His defenestration is the latest result of an on-again, off-again season of shareholder agitation in the financial and other sectors.
Thing Two: Refi Pileup: The good news: Mortgage rates are at record lows. The bad news: You very well might not be able to take advantage of them to refinance your mortgage, write Nick Timiraos and Ruth Simon in the Wall Street Journal: Banks are jacking up rates in order to keep refi demand low and their own profits high, write Timiraos and Simon. What's more: "A surge in demand has come at a time when fewer banks control a larger share of the mortgage market than they did before the financial crisis. Banks also are being more careful about whom they lend money to and how they process loans. It now takes the nation's biggest mortgage lenders an average of more than 70 days to complete a refinance, according to Accenture Credit Services, up from 45 days a year ago."
Thing Three: Greece Fire: Financial markets are in turmoil once again because of, you guessed it, Greece. The leftist leader Alexis Tsipras vowed to toss out deals worked out in previous months whereby Greece would get mountains of cash in exchange for agreeing to painful budget cuts. For better or worse, though, Tsipras is not likely to be able to form a government, Reuters writes, which means Greece will likely need new elections, which raises the odds of Greece leaving the euro zone, which gives Europe and the rest of the world a giant headache.
Thing Four: JOLT For Job Seekers: At least there's better news on the home front, where a new Labor Department report showed the number of U.S. job openings rose to the highest level since November 2008, writes the Financial Times: "The reassuring numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which also show more people choosing to quit their job voluntarily, suggest that recent weak US jobs growth may be due to the unusually warm winter rather than an economic downturn."
Thing Five: Chasing Your Money: JPMorgan Chase plans to start pitching people on prepaid debit cards, in an effort to find a way to milk new fees out of somebody, after federal law prohibited them from milking the middle class more than they already do, writes the Wall Street Journal. So why not the poor? "J.P. Morgan's Chase retail unit is the largest big bank so far to pitch prepaid monthly debit cards, which typically target consumers who can't afford fees that are being tacked onto regular checking accounts."
Thing Six: Occupy BofA: Speaking of beloved American banks, Bank of America holds its annual shareholders meeting in Charlotte today, where it will be besieged outside by protesters decrying pretty much everything it does, from political spending to financing of the coal industry, and inside by shareholders angry about the company's lousy stock performance and big raise for CEO Brian Moynihan, writes Reuters.
Thing Seven: Another Day, Another News Corp Hearing: Speaking of awkward moments, former News Corp. honchos Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson will testify today and tomorrow in a media-ethics inquiry focusing primarily on the media company's cozy ties with conservative politicians, including Prime Minister David Cameron, Bloomberg writes.
Thing Seven And One Half: A Business By Any Other Name: Ever been to the Boner Ranch? The Hell Factory? These are just two of the fine business names travel writer Doug Lansky has discovered in his writing travels. Won't you click through our fine Huffington Post slideshow to see more of them?
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Calendar Du Jour:
10:00 a.m. ET: Wholesale Inventories for March
Before Market Open:
AOL (parent of Huffington Post)
Time Not Specified:
News Corp. (former employer)
After Market Close:
Heard On The Tweets:
@moorehn: Just had breakfast with an investor who reminded me of one of the great facts about Facebook: it's currently valuing itself at 90x
@zerohedge: Fitch starts to set the stage: "Greece leaving euro would be bearable"
@bdomenech: Zuckerberg should at least have the decency to graduate to a pinstriped executive hoodie.
@ReformedBroker: Generic European Leader: Someone Must Do a Certain Thing Or Something Will Not Be Good
@KenJennings: My daughter and I just poured out a sippy-cup of apple juice on the curb for the great Maurice Sendak.
-- Calendar and tweets rounded up by Khadeeja Safdar.
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