Thing One: Sandy Brings Climate Change Back To Campaign: If this morning's newsletter sounds a little panicky, that's because it is being typed to the sound of a freight train blowing through the treetops around 7.5 Things Headquarters in northern New Jersey, with the occasional accompaniment of an air-raid siren thrown in, for extra terror.
Sandy, a monster storm stretching hundreds of miles across, is barreling slowly toward the area, threatening some 60 million people with walls of water along the coasts, inland flooding and non-stop winds and gusts that could shred trees and shut off power for days. The entire region has already been disrupted, with hundreds of thousands being evacuated from low-lying areas and transit into and inside of New York City shut down indefinitely. Stock and derivative trading is shut down today, and probably tomorrow. Bonds are trading today, but will shut down early. More than 5,000 airline flights have been canceled already.
And the presidential election may be inconvenienced by the whole thing, which would be a delicious irony, if this were not such deadly serious business. Both President Obama and Mitt Romney have studiously avoided talking about climate change throughout the election. In fact, they have almost come to blows over who would be more eager to drill on public lands for more carbon fuel. They have scrambled over the top of each other to declare their fealty to coal.
I'm not saying that Sandy is a monster created by climate change. But there is a good chance that, with warmer water temperatures, we can expect more Sandys than usual in the future -- more death, fear and disruption of our economy. And rather than seriously trying to get global warming trends in check, or prepare for the worst, our leaders have instead worried about the short term. In the most extreme example of short-term thinking, Romney has talked about doing away with FEMA to help deal with the federal budget deficit, for example, giving responsibility for disaster relief back to the states, which of course have no budget problems of their own.
But, again, this sort of thinking is bipartisan. The world's most bipartisan man, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has overseen lots of deep thinking about climate change, to his credit, but has done little about it, the New York Times wrote in September, in a warning of what we're already starting to see happen with Sandy: "[E]ven as city officials earn high marks for environmental awareness, critics say New York is moving too slowly to address the potential for flooding that could paralyze transportation, cripple the low-lying financial district and temporarily drive hundreds of thousands of people from their homes."
This horrible storm is sending us a message. Are we listening?
Thing Two: 'Penguin House' Closer To Fruition: Bertelsmann and Pearson have agreed to combine their book-publishing houses, Random House and Penguin, the Wall Street Journal reports, into a new venture that could control about a quarter of the publishing market. We can only hope it will be called Penguin House. News Corp. has also expressed interest in buying Penguin, to mash it into its soon-to-be-spun-off dead-trees company, which will include publisher HarperCollins and the WSJ. The merger dance is a sign of just how desperate the industry is to consolidate in the face of competition from e-books. And yes, it probably is coming too late.
Thing Three: Swiss Bank To Send Thousands Packing: Swiss bank UBS plans to cut 10,000 jobs over the next three to five years, mainly from its investment-banking division, the Wall Street Journal writes. The same problems affecting the banking sector in the U.S. -- sluggish economy, low interest rates, tighter regulations -- are at least as bad, if not worse, in Europe. Banks around the world are tightening their belts. Though UBS's move may be the one of the most dramatic so far, it ultimately won't be alone.
Thing Four: More Singapore Suspensions: Prepare yourself for a shock: Traders will manipulate more than just Libor. UBS and Royal Bank of Scotland have suspended several traders in Singapore over charges that they manipulated some derivates called non-deliverable forwards, Bloomberg writes. This comes as traders are being suspended, and banks investigated, all over the world on charges that they manipulated the London Interbank Offered Rate for fun and profit for the past decade or so.
Thing Five: Sands To Cut A Deal: Sheldon Adelson's Las Vegas Sands is in talks with the Justice Department about settling charges the casino company violated money-laundering laws, writes the Wall Street Journal -- which somehow manages not to mention the name "Sheldon Adelson" until the penultimate paragraph of a very long story. Adelson has thrown millions of dollars into getting various Republicans nominated and/or elected in 2012.
Thing Six: Another Day, Another Cliff Warning: The "fiscal cliff" of tax increases and spending cuts due to take effect next year could hit the economy harder than many investors and economists realize, Reuters writes, citing independent studies that suggest the effect could be twice as bad as an oft-cited estimate by the Congressional Budget Office. The risk of generating a big fiscal-cliff panic is that it could lead to hasty, bad solutions. Business leaders across the country are trying to help that panic process along. Buyer beware.
Thing Seven: BlackBerry To Lose Customer: The Pentagon is making plans to let employees use iPhones, Androids and iPads, the Washington Post writes, ending a long exclusive relationship with Research In Motion, maker of the BlackBerry. This is just what the struggling RIM didn't need: "RIM has clung to government business as an area of strength as consumers and some businesses switch to rival devices with bigger touch screens and faster browsers."
Thing Seven And One Half: Giants Win Again: It turns out the formula for baseball success is pretty simple: Get rid of the greatest hitter in baseball history, win two championships. The San Francisco Giants won their second World Series ring in the past three years last night, sweeping the Detroit Tigers in four games. They lost only one game in winning the World Series in 2010. Both championships came after the retirement of former Giant Barry Bonds, baseball's most prolific home-run hitter, and holder of the top three single-season records for overall batting prowess. But he only led the Giants to four postseasons, including a World Series loss in 2002. This year's giants were led by the relative unknown Pablo Sandoval, nicknamed Kung Fu Panda, who was named the World Series MVP.
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Calendar Du Jour:
8:30 a.m. ET: Personal Income and Spending for September
Heard On The Tweets:
Friend from Barclays got an automated voicemail that they're expected in tomorrow. They can't manipulate LIBOR from home?
— Downtown Josh Brown (@ReformedBroker) October 28, 2012
I DON'T KNOW WHAT ZONE I'M IN
— Jake Beckman (@jakebeckman) October 28, 2012
Increasingly clear that the recession that was supposed to start in September 2011 did not start in September 2012 either
— Daniel Gross (@grossdm) October 26, 2012
Is ongoing GDP growth sustainable? Hell yes. But there's a big if: If Congress doesn't push the economy over the fiscal cliff.
— Justin Wolfers (@justinwolfers) October 26, 2012
Almost a billion dollars have been spent on campaign ads so far. It's a good thing our schools & economy are in great shape or I'd be mad.
— Zach Galifianakis (@ZachGalifinak) October 26, 2012
THEY SAY COLIN POWELL ENDORSE OBAMA BECAUSE OF SKIN COLOR! THIS WHY DRUNK HULK NEVER ENDORSE GREEN PARTY!
— DRUNK HULK (@DRUNKHULK) October 26, 2012
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