EWS AT A GLANCE
Singapore fund shifts to emerging markets
Singapore’s $100 billion sovereign wealth fund, Government of Singapore Investment Corp., said it is shifting its assets toward emerging markets, hedge funds, and natural resources to boost returns. GIC, in its first-ever annual report, said it now has only 25 percent of its holdings in bonds, from 75 percent 25 years ago. (MarketWatch) GIC said its 20-year average annual return was 7.8 percent in U.S. dollar terms, compared with 18 percent at Singapore’s Temasek investment firm and 21 percent at Berkshire Hathaway. (Bloomberg) Meanwhile, Asian policymakers from the 1997-98 IMF bailout, who were lectured by the U.S. on its superior economic model, are feeling vindicated by the looming U.S. mega-bailout. (Reuters)
Congress, Paulson nearing bailout plan
Congressional leaders and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson came closer to agreement on a $700 billion Wall Street bailout package, with Paulson agreeing to demands for some sort of oversight. Paulson is balking, however, at bipartisan demands that any firm participating in the bailout face restrictions on executive compensation. (Bloomberg) The Bush administration also opposes Democratic proposals to let judges rewrite the mortgages of bankrupt homeowners and to give taxpayers a stake in participating firms. Several lawmakers from both parties are attacking the whole plan as ill-conceived. (AP in Yahoo! Finance) Some 55 percent of Americans favor a bailout, according to a CNN poll, but most think the cost is too high. (CNNMoney.com)
Circuit City replaces CEO
Circuit City CEO Philip Schoonover stepped down under pressure, amid the consumer electronics giant’s struggles with steep losses and failed sale to Blockbuster. Circuit City named board member James Marcum, brought in by activist shareholder Mark Wattles in June, as acting CEO. (The Washington Post) Circuit City shares are down 80 percent from a year ago, and never recovered from a tough price war over flat-screen TVs two years ago. Schoonover’s decision to fire 3,400 experienced workers in 2007 also backfired. (BusinessWeek.com) In another shakeup, Citigroup ousted Sallie Krawcheck, the head of global wealth management and the most prominent woman on Wall Street. Krawcheck and CEO Vikram Pandit had clashed. (The New York Times)
Laughing all the way to the bank
Seattle entrepreneur Ben Huh makes a living from his “LOLcats”-based empire—eight Web sites, anchored by silly photos of cats with deliberately mangled-language and misspelled captions. The sites, most famously “I Can Has Cheezburger,” bring in 5 million users and 100 pageviews a month. And Huh is trying to expand, just as Web advertising is hitting a slow patch. His linchpin? Celebrities. His newest site, ROFLrazzi, aims to cash in on the fascination with Hollywood news. Huh’s backers think he will survive the ad downturn. “Humor is one of those things that is recession-proof,” said investor Geoff Entress. (Los Angeles Times)
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