Business and Tech Links and Notes #2

January 4, 2010

1-4-10

1. http://www.businessweek.com/globalbiz/content/jan2010/gb2010014_211008.htm

“Kraft May Lift Offer on Cadbury Stock Rise”

It does not seem surprising to me that a food (candy) company has become a hot target for takeover at this time. Even in the worst of times, people will still eat candy. It also does not seem surprising that Cadbury’s stock is pushing up as high as it can, considering the strength of the company, and considering how many other companies seem to have interest in buying Cadbury. Regardless of who ends up buying the company, I do think the Cadbury brand will still remain strong, and it will not get swallowed up by its parent company.

2. http://money.cnn.com/2010/01/04/news/economy/ISM_manufacturing/index.htm

“Manufacturing activity continued to grow in December”

According to the article, there has been steady growth for several months in manufacturing. Computer and electronic manufacturing is up, which is no shock. But I cannot see the greater correlation between manufacturing growth and general economic upturn. There was no mention in the way of sales or much of anything else further on the business chain. Also, not a peep was mentioned about job growth or manufacturing infrastructure increases. Although an increase in orders is not a bad thing, I think it would be unwise to believe it alone has any meaningful effect on the greater economy.

3. http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2010/0118/investing-eveillard-first-eagle-mutual-funds-calamity-insurance.html

“Using Gold as Calamity Insurance”

Although some may laugh at this notion, I think Ron Paul has a good idea when he says that we need to be able to have alternate forms of currency, because that forces the people who control the various forms of currency to be more vigilant in maintaining the value of said currencies. What does this have to do with the article? I agree that gold is not the end all, be all of financial value, but gold definitely has its place in any society that heavily relies on fiat currency and securities-based investments. In the article, the company uses gold to give stabilize mutual fund portfolios. What has helped gold throughout the years is that it is a tangible object that cannot go away. It changes in value mostly from mining circumstances and consumer and investor demand. This has been a viable, stable currency for many centuries. Why can it not continue to be a usable currency? It does not have to be the currency, but it can be one of many.

4. http://news.cnet.com/8301-30684_3-10423524-265.html?tag=newsLeadStoriesArea.1

“Five New Year’s Resolutions for Google”

This article really hits the nail on the head. In particular, the comments about Google Books made a lot of sense. It seems surprising that Google has not tried to cash in on the e-reader craze yet, considering how dedicated they are about creating a comprehensive e-library. Then again, that may be part of what Google has in mind with their current mobile strategy. Google is one of those companies that tries to make everything tie into everything else. Although this strategy generally works, I do think people can be sometimes overloaded by having too much in one spot, such as in the example of Google Wave. I find it interesting that so much hype was made about the Wave beta testing just a month or two ago, and we barely hear anything about the project now.

5. http://www.informationweek.com/news/healthcare/EMR/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=222100334

“U.S. Pushes For EMR Standards”

This makes sense, and I totally support this. If a person gets sick or injured, particularly somewhere not near his or her home, having standardized medical files could help people significantly by correcting the problems made by inconsistent forms, such as wasting time and making possibly incorrect assumptions in filling in gaps. I do not think paper files should be done away with, but they need to become backup files, as opposed to the main sources of information on patients. Consistency in electronic medical files is something I believe should be on the top of the list of tasks for improving health care in the United States.

6. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=am2z88Oy1kJs

“Housing Animal Spirits to Be Banished by Prime Foreclosures”

This article was a bit depressing to read. It is one thing when people who played the market and tried to live drastically beyond their means get hit, but it is quite another when people who did things in a reasonable, cautious way are in the hot seat. The current recession is quite the cycle, where people become less inclined to spend when they are getting laid off or otherwise having their employment decreased, but employment rates end up having a hard time increasing, because people are less inclined to spend. Such a skittish economy causes even the most responsible of people buying on credit to have problems, because the jobs they took for granted as being secure suddenly become not so secure. Something has to give, somewhere.

7. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=a1cY88utRbZU&pos=7

“Commodities Back as Gurus Eschew Financial Assets (Update1)”

Although the U.S. stock market and the dollar appear to be in recovery for now, I think there will be a turn toward inflation once the stimulus money is weaned from companies. I could easily see the U.S. starting to print money if it cannot find another way to pay for the huge hole it has gotten itself into. I think it will be especially important to continue holding onto commodities and precious metals investments throughout 2010, because I do not think the dollar has seen its worst days yet, even if the Fed raises interest rates.