Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Short takes: Greek PM drops a bombshell, markets just drop; Google's ownership of Motorola Mobility could be short; ABC latest report shows gains in digital editions

It is hard to over exaggerate the impact of Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou's little news this morning. "Let's put it to a vote," he sort of said, and that was enough to get all of Europe and investors around the world riled up.

With his government teetering, with a confidence vote looming on Friday, Papandreou said it would put newly negotiated bailout agreement to a vote of the Greek people. Many expect that the vote will result in the rejection of the new bailout – but then again, maybe not. But the uncertainty, plus the revulsion at the sign of a bit of democracy had leaders around the world pretty upset.

As for the markets, both the German DAX and the French CAC40 lost 5 percent of value in today's trading (the Dow lost lightly less than 2.5 percent of its value today).

More ominous than the prospects of a vote on the referendum – at least to me – was the news that the Greek defense minister sacked some of the military's top brass. Athens Newsreported this afternoon that the chief of the Greek National Defense General Staff, the chief of the Greek Army General Staff, the chief of the Greek Air Force, and the chief of the Greek Navy General Staff were all replaced today.

It should be remembered that the armed forces in Greece staged a coup as recently as 1967, and then ran the country until 1975. In June of this year the CIA was rumored to have concluded that a military coup in Greece was a possibility (though the sources for that report seem less than authoritative).

Crain's Chicago Business is reporting that Ed Snyder of San Francisco-based Charter Equity Research Inc. believes that Google may turn around and sell or spin out Motorola Mobility.

“Google bought Motorola for its patents, not for its hardware operations, which wouldn’t contribute enough in revenue or profits to offset the risk,” Snyder is reported to have said in a research note. “We therefore expect Motorola to be spun or sold again in the not-so-distant future.”

The issue, of course, is that Google would not want to be a position to compete directly with other makers of Android handsets and tablets.

Makes sense, but we'll see.

The Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) has released its latest newspaper circulation report and they show some continued growth in digital editions.

The New York Times enjoyed the highest growth in digital editions, growing from 100,520 total digital copies counted, to 380,003 digital editions. Meanwhile, the total number of digital replica editions actually fell, showing the emphasis on web and app subscriptions.