10/24/2012 08:03 am ET Updated Oct 24, 2012

World Gets Revenge On America's Earnings, Stock Market: Seven And A Half Things To Know

Thing One: Rest Of World Gets Even With America For Financial Crisis: The global economy is a mess, and for once it's not America's fault.

But America is feeling the pain all the same. A whole bunch of U.S. companies yesterday delivered a side order of bad news with their third-quarter earnings reports, the Financial Times writes. DuPont, Xerox, 3M, United Technologies and Dow Chemical all either lowered their profit forecasts for the rest of the year, announced global job cuts, or both. All cited a global economic slowdown that began with the European debt crisis and has spread to China, the U.S. and elsewhere. The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled more than 240 points yesterday, ostensibly because of these downbeat reports, the Wall Street Journal writes -- although there was a competing theory going around that a couple of New York Times stories saying Ben Bernanke would be stepping down as Federal Reserve Chairman in 2014 initially sparked the selloff. After all, that is newer information (although also not shocking).

The Dow is down nearly 4 percent from its high for the year, which it hit just a few weeks ago. Back then, it was within shouting distance of a new all-time high, and some investors thought that was crazy, under the circumstances. Seems they were right, though a 4 percent selloff is hardly the end of the world. Now people are worried the market will keep falling forever. That also seems unlikely. We've known for a long time that Europe is a mess and that earnings were going to be bad. Meanwhile, U.S. consumers, the life-blood of the U.S. economy, have been holding on strong, the NYT notes. Companies that mainly do business with U.S. customers are doing just fine, notes the Wall Street Journal's Justin Lahart.

Manufacturing surveys from China this morning suggest that the economy, at least, may be on the mend. Surveys from Europe, however, suggest a deepening recession. We have mostly forgotten about Europe's mess because policy makers there seem to have figured out a way to keep financial markets from crashing. But they have not yet figured out long-term solutions to their problems or even short-term solutions to their economic disaster. Until they do, we can expect weaker growth in the U.S. and around the world, along with the occasional stock-market mini-panic. Good times.

Thing Two: Apple's Shiny Objects Duller Than Expected: Apple, as expected, announced its new iPad mini yesterday, along with yet another iteration of the regular iPad and a handful of new computers. This is ordinarily the sort of day that gets the tech world worked into a lather of Apple fapping -- fapAppling? Instead, sharp observers quickly found flaws. The Huffington Post's Jason Gilbert, for example, notes that the iPad mini's display is not as sharp as that of its direct competitors, Amazon's Kindle and Barnes & Noble's Nook -- and yet it costs more. That's not a good combo. Bloomberg points out that a high-priced mini-tablet sort of defeats its supposed raison d'etre -- to compete directly with the Kindle and Nook.

Thing Three: Facebook All Smiles: What a strange day it was in the tech world: While Apple was kind of the Goofus, Facebook turned out to be the Gallant. The company -- which has suffered a difficult year in investor relations, to say the least, including the world's worst IPO -- reported fairly decent quarterly results. It lost money, but revenue was better than expected. More importantly, it said it was making more money on mobile ads, a sore spot. The stock jumped more than 15 percent after hours. Still, it remains about 40 percent below its IPO price, and the company needs many more decent quarters to win investors back.

Thing Four: Debt Collectors Get New Rules: The nation will creep one step closer to socialism on January 2, when the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will impose rules on heroic debt collectors. All these hard-working companies are doing is trying to squeeze blood from turnips in order to increase the profits of America's job-creating lenders. When will the madness end? Hopefully never.

Thing Five: Glass Ceiling Much Lower Than Expected: It sure does not take long for women to bump into discrimination in the workplace: According to a new study out today by the American Association of University Women, just a year out of college, women are already getting paid a little bit less than men, the Washington Post writes. This is happening even though women are attending and graduating college in greater numbers than men, and earning higher grades.

Thing Six: Stagnation Nation: As I wrote yesterday, there's a whole lot of stuff not getting discussed in this presidential election. David Leonhardt at the New York Times this morning writes about one very big topic not getting discussed: Income stagnation. Mitt Romney mentions it a lot, but blames President Obama for it and doesn't really say how he's going to fix it. Leonhardt observes that there's not a whole lot Romney, or anybody else, can do about it -- it's driven by automation and globalization, trends that are not reversing.

Thing Seven: Potentially Bad Day For Gupta: Former Goldman Sachs director Rajat Gupta will find out today how much jail time he's going to get for his conviction on insider-trading charges. He's asked to be sent to Rwanda to do philanthropic work instead, and he's gotten Bill Gates, Kofi Annan and a bunch of other bright lights to plead his case. He'll probably go to jail, but he may get some lenience.

Thing Seven And A Half: The Stupid, It Burns: Very important Circus-Clown-American Donald Trump has warned everybody that he plans to release news today that he calls "bordering on gigantic," something that could possibly change the presidential race. Oh noes, Donald Trump, do not keep us in suspense, what could it be? Supposedly, according to "respected financial pundit" Doug Kass, it will be Obama divorce papers from many years ago, papers that were drafted but never filed, because apparently President Obama is still married. Or so he says. I won't even bother to tell you the dog-whistle this "revelation" is supposed to sound to the extreme-right fever swamp, but you can probably figure it out with a little Googling. Suffice to say that this revelation will alter the course of history -- with the history-altering power of laughter.

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Calendar Du Jour:

Economic Data:

10:00 a.m. ET: New Home Sales for September

2:15 p.m. ET: Federal Reserve interest-rate decision

Corporate Earnings:



Bristol-Myers Squibb

Eli Lilly

General Dynamics

Lockheed Martin

Nasdaq OMX

Northrop Grumman

Heard On The Tweets:

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Euro Area Countries With High Unemployment