Bloomberg TV

Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Final Countdown

Another day features yet another guest from the housing industry. This time, someone from Tarragon Realty believes that the housing market is strong because of supply and demand. That's great, but if a healthy portion of the demand is from speculators, then how will the binge continue? Already, superheated markets like Las Vegas and the DC area are showing signs of trouble. An endless supply of real-estate boosters can only signal one thing: the lady backstage is getting ready.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Ashraf Laidi, Man of FX

Through the years, one of my favorite sites for forex news has been, appropriately enough, Forex News. The main reason I visit the site is the strong guiding hand of Ashraf Laidi. He too operates an online trading firm, MG Forex, though I'd suggest that you read the recent Wall Street Journal article (pay site) about the forex day trading fad before plunging in.

Although Laidi's forex projections are sometimes rather off, he more often than not is closer than the rest, and his firm has already been cited as having among the most accurate forecasts. He's become something of a luminary on business news channels, and he is now a regular on Bloomberg. Once you get used to his somewhat unorthodox speaking style, you'll come to appreciate the general soundness of his views. His "big picture" regarding forex is quite difficult to fault. The Forex News website features frequently updated audio commentary as well.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

News Flash From the Clash: Yuan Revalues

I was watching Bloomberg at around 7:00 AM ET when Brian Sullivan of Bloomberg broke the news: China finally let the yuan revalue. Furthermore, Xinhua, the official government news agency, said the country was adopting a managed floating exchange rate. Granted, the preliminary move is relatively small at +2.1%: from 8.28 yuan to the dollar, it's now 8.11 yuan to the dollar. I've got to hand it to the Chinese officials. When they said that they'd perform this feat at an unexpected moment, they sure meant it. Commentators on Bloomberg suggest that this move is just a precursor to more moves. Rest assured that it's a whole new ball game.

Credit should be given where credit is due. Around the 22nd of June, I noted that the Hong Kong dollar--which was (is?) often used as a proxy for the yuan--started to be monitored on Bloomberg TV's Asia edition. This listing was strange for, like the yuan, the Hong Kong dollar wasn't exactly a flexible currency. I said that this portended a yuan revaluation, and sure enough, it was. Folks, watch Bloomberg. If it can offer more hints like this one, it's as good as gold. This just in: Malaysia has followed suit in ditching its fixed currency regime.

Da Boss Seeks Re-Election...

The chances are good that Mike Bloomberg will win re-election. He's peaking at the right time. During his term, never have his approval ratings been as high. According to the most recent Quinnipiac poll, 60% of voters approve of his performance. Unsurprisingly, his support manages to cut across party lines. Remember, he was a registered Democrat before his late conversion to the Republican party just before the New York mayoral elections in 2001. Alike his predecessor, he's a "Republican-lite" who takes tough stances on crime and finances, but is basically permissive socially.

Ironically, the Economist (pay site) believes that Mike's defeats in garnering support for building a new $2.2 billion sports complex on the West Side and wooing the 2012 Olympic games make him more palatable to the populace. Stripped of grandiose projects and bolstered by a strong local financial services industry, Bloomberg looks hard to beat, pot-smoking or not.

...But What's Become of the Biz?

Make no mistake: Bloomberg L.P. never had a reputation as an easygoing workplace. The Economist (pay site) pointed out last year that morale has been suffering with Mike Bloomberg's leave of absence to run the city of New York. Whereas he used to be able to command loyalty and long hours of work from his employees through charisma and a sense of caring, his successors seem to have lost the winning touch. The signs of trouble are evident: low morale, infighting, and frequent resignations. What's worse, it's been played out on a public stage. As an example, the New York Newspaper Guild, in its efforts to unionize the firm's employees, has set up a gripe site. Also largely unfavorable are comments made by posters on the career info site, Vault.

For us viewers, this pattern is clearly worrying. While Bloomberg TV has lost some people I could care less about, they've also lost the likes of Edie Lush and that suspender-and-bowtie bonds guy who I thought were quite good. Hopefully, Mayor Mike's political ambitions do not cause further neglect of his business interests. After all, they're instrumental in filling his campaign coffers, and are what he'll return to after his days in politics are done.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Soon Gone: Greenspan Testifies to Congress

We can discuss the merits of Alan Greenspan as Federal Reserve Chairman--perhaps even if he ought to continue in that capacity after his term expires--but one thing's for certain: Greenspan is the polar opposite of a good public speaker.

The picture is familiar to millions: Sir Alan sits impassively in front of his lawmaking interlocutors wearing his customary red tie, and reads his prepared statement for a couple of minutes in his patented drone. He almost never looks at his listeners until the Q & A session begins. To me, some animation would be welcome. As repetitive as his statements are, they undoubtedly weigh heavy on the state of world markets. They don't call him the second most powerful man in America for nothing. I know it's getting late for him to change, but can't Greenspan make it at least sound interesting?

The Q & A session that follows is equally predictable. Republicans laud their man, and give him attaboys, except when Ron Paul (R-Texas) has the mic. Meanwhile, the Democrats employ their usual guerilla tactics by peppering him with questions regarding the lowered participation of labor; the decline of manufacturing; the ever-widening wealth gap; the Chinese buying up the world; the mind-boggling current account deficit; the housing bubble; etc. While predictable, I pay more attention to the Q & A session. There, Greenspan often lets on that there is more trouble in store than he does in his prepared remarks. I, for one, find that refreshing. We can only hope that his successor is livelier and less obtuse.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Bloomberg Not Rated by Nielsen

Here's a surprising factoid I picked up from Variety (pay site), the entertainment industry rag: Bloomberg TV's household audience is so tiny that America's foremost TV ratings firm, Nielsen, doesn't even provide data for the channel. Being a business student, teacher, and practitioner for so long, it befuddles me to think that this is the case. I guess Bloomberg TV has a specialized (read: "educated" and "wealthy") audience, as I noted a while back. The few. The proud. The Bloomberg TV audience.

Friday, July 08, 2005

I Ain't This Mean to CNBC

Here's a show-stopping graphic from a recent article by the insightful Texas Hedge folks:

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Bloomberg's Coverage of the London Bombings

Bloomberg's coverage of the London bombings has been mixed. To my surprise, only the local BBC did a better job of covering the events as they unfolded. Unsurprisingly, Bloomberg did alright in relaying the goings-on in European financial markets. However, Bloomberg's coverage of the events as they pertain to America leaves much to be desired.

While major European markets slumped as evidenced by 1 percent-plus falls in indices such as the DAX, CAC, and FTSE, American indices have hardly been affected. At the outbreak of these events, the DJIA futures indicated a massive -210 change, while gold rallied by five dollars. Yet, as I write, the Dow Jones and gold are virtually unchanged for the day. Certainly, much of this change of heart can be attributed to a "thank goodness it didn't happen here" mentality, which was all too prevalent before the message that terrorists can strike practically anytime, anywhere was brought home by September 11, 2001. This mentality has seemingly been adopted again. Brought on board Bloomberg's American edition were guests who suggested that markets have become inured to attacks, basking in the bravery of being out of range. Yet, I would be more circumspect in this regard if I were them.

Instead of implying that this was a minor blip on the American radar, it would've been better if they more thoroughly discussed the typical ramifications of these occurences. Will oil prices go higher because of additional geopolitical instability, or will they go lower because demand will weaken in the wake of the attacks? What will happen to transportation and tourism stocks? How will the prospects of the 2012 London Olympic Games be affected? Are markets worried about follow-on attacks in the United States? These are all topics that are more pertinent and timely to investors instead of portraying the attacks as isolated from America. It's a small world, after all.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Lock Up Your Daughters! $80 a Barrel Soon!

I've worked as a journalist before. The pressure and urge to sell stories are omnipresent. The people from Bloomberg are hardly immune from these influences. Just yesterday, the headliner at the top of every hour for the Asian, European, and American editions was that options at $80 a barrel for crude were trading on the NYMEX. The headline certainly looked spectacular, but it's no guarantee whatsoever that we will see $80 by year end. Unless major supply disruptions occur, that figure is rather difficult to achieve. Bloomberg's producers need a slap on a wrist for this one. Repetition lends an air of inevitability to the current hysteria over a new oil crisis. Prudent reporting would've confined this news to discussions of oil prices instead of being highlighted so much.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Profile#3: Nigel Stevenson

You'd think that reading from a TelePrompTer is easy; well, it probably isn't so difficult once you get used to it. Still, making the news interesting is a skill that only the most gifted hosts have. Nigel Stevenson (Bloomberg Europe) is one of those few hosts. Although he is impeccably well-groomed, Stevenson is nondescript in appearance. His ability lies not in leveraging his visage. Rather, his delivery is well-nigh perfect. If there ever was a fellow who ought to teach public speaking, Stevenson's your man. Things you can learn from him include how to place emphasis on key words; modulate one's voice to be neither unintelligibly soft nor unnecessarily pointed; identify a proper pace of speaking; and use proper business etiquette.

Knowledgeable about business and nearly flawless as a news reader, he is the ne plus ultra among Bloomberg hosts. Stephen King critics say that the author could publish his grocery list and make it a bestseller. Well, Nigel Stevenson could probably read your laundry list and make it sound interesting.

Fearless Viewer's Grade: A

Profile#2: Jeremy Naylor

Naylor is your quintessential English host. Unless you frequently tune in to the hopelessly Amerocentric Fox News which doesn't even bother to remove its constantly waving American flag for international viewers (?!), you'll find that English hosts are thick on the ground when it comes to international TV news. This is for a good reason: English presenters like Jeremy Naylor of the UK edition are highly intelligible. Speakers of the King's English have an unmistakable cachet. As far as hosts go, Naylor is largely unfaultable whether presenting the news or questioning guests. While he is a proficient host, the evenness of his presentation style can lead to inattention on the viewer's part on occasion.

Fearless Viewer's Grade: A-

Profile#1: Guy "I Don't Need a Steenkin' Suit" Collins

For some reason, the "stocks guy" on financial news programs usually gets a special dispensation to do away with a business suit, and Guy Collins always appears in a long-sleeved shirt and tie. In any case, I don't follow European stocks that much, if at all. For me, the performance of European markets reflects that of the US market the day before instead of presaging same-day US market movements. From what I can gather, though, this Guy is quick to pick up on stocks and sectors on the move. His delivery is not state-of-the-art for he sometimes appears more focused on his Bloomberg monitor than in relaying information to a TV audience. Nonetheless, he's quite intelligible. Although he's not as polished as the hosts he plays opposite (or perhaps because), he makes an admirable foil--especially when interviewing guests. If anything, Guy Collins poses excellent questions.

Fearless Viewer's Grade: A-/B+


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