Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Morning Brief: Greek PM calls for referendum on bailout deal; even old-school transportation companies get into mobile apps; Time Warner looks to scale back digs

In a move that has shocked European leaders, and upset the financial community, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has called for a referendum on the new Eurozone bailout package. According to the English language Athens News, Papandreou said it was "the time for the citizens to reply responsibly. Do they want us to implement it or reject it? If the people do not want it, then it shall not be implemented. If yes, we shall proceed ... we never resigned from our responsibilities."

The plan, as announced by the prime minister, is for there to be a confidence vote held on Friday of this week, followed by a referendum scheduled as soon as the final details of the package are worked out.

“If the Greek people don’t see the necessity of backing Papandreou we have a whole different ballgame,” Otto Fricke, the budget spokesman for Germany’s Free Democratic Party coalition partner, said to BusinessWeek this morning.

“If he doesn’t get a majority, then there’s no second aid package, no voluntary haircut. We’d have a potentially explosive situation, one that leaves us today baffled as to what we could possibly do next,” Fricke added.

The news has caught investors completely off guard. As a result, European markets are falling hard, with the German Dax down over 4 percent in trading today. U.S. stock futures are also down.

Rail shipper CSX has launched a its own iPhone app that allows its customers to track freight shipments and trains within the CSX network.

"The ShipCSX application makes planning and tracing shipments easier than ever, enabling customers to better plan for the arrival of scheduled shipments," said Eddie Chesser, director e-business CSX in the company's announcement. "Designed with our supply chain and logistics-conscious consumers in mind, this application continues our commitment to make rail the most cost-effective and environmentally-friendly way to move freight."

CSX Corp. is a Jacksonville, Fla. based transportation company with a network of rail and rail-to-truck shipping services.

The New York Times is reporting that Time Warner is looking to trim costs, and one of the first things to go will apparently be its location inside the towers of the Time Warner Center.

Time Warner has not been the same company since its infamous acquisition of AOL in 2000, now Bewkes is looking to right the ship. “The idea is to take money being spent on insignificant things out and put it into significant things which are programming, journalism and digital translations of our products,” Mr. Bewkes told the NYT.

“There was a burgeoning overhead reaching $500 million a year, including this edifice you’re sitting in,” chairman and chief executive Jeffrey L. Bewkes told Times reporter Amy Chozick.