Pfizer Deepens Puerto Rico Recession

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Puerto Rico has had a failing economy for nearly four years now–the recession has been deep and wide in this Caribbean territory. Pfizer has, unfortunately, contributed to the deepening of that recession today by announcing the elimination of thousands of jobs in the small island nation.

The Pfizer restructuring amounts to an 18 percent reduction of its global work force and includes the shuttering of two Puerto Rico plants in Caguas and Carolina as well as the downsizing of a third plant, in Guayama, over the next 30 months.

That translates into the loss of some 1,500 jobs from Pfizer’s 4,000 staff in Puerto Rico, a U.S. commonwealth with a chronic, double-digit unemployment rate that stood at 16.2 percent in March, according to local officials.


Toyota Issues Another Recall

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Toyota has had a hard couple of months in light of their massive set of recalls. Wednesday they announced yet another recall of 50,000 Toyota Sequoia SUVs. The Japanese car maker said the vehicle had issues with the electronic stability system.

In the latest recall, Toyota said the electronic stability-control system in the Sequoias may not activate as quickly as a driver expects at low speeds. Toyota said there have been no reported injuries or accidents.

Under the recall, Toyota will replace the engine-control computer to correct the problem, which was identified in 2003 among the first batch of the vehicles produced that year.

Toyota subsequently fixed the problem on newly built vehicles with a production change in 2003 and published a technical service bulletin in the fall of that year for dealers to address the issue.

The entire article is well worth reading, it gives a good picture of Toyota’s problems this year and how minor this one is.


DirecTV and DishNetwork File Suits

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One would expect to find major competitors at each other’s throats–but the circus that Dish Network and DirecTV have gotten themselves into is pretty incredible. The number two and three satellite television providers in the United States have been locked in a legal battle for a few months over the content of their advertisements.

The war of words over advertisement claims between the two satellite TV operators began last month when DirecTV lodged a complaint against Dish Network with a U.S. District Court.

In the complaint, DirecTV said Dish Network began running a nationwide television commercial, which falsely claimed that Dish charges significantly less than DirecTV for the same services.

My guess is that the likely benefactor of all of this skirmishing between these two companies is that ComCast Corp’s profits will rise. They’re the number one provider of satellite television in the U.S. and will come out looking as smooth as ever.


On Europe and Her Debt

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Europe has a rising debt problem that is now branching out and making itself known in other ways. It is effecting the Euro, the strength of the dollar,regional economies, etc. Greece, Spain, and Portugal are sinking under the heavy weight of debts they have accumulated. The European Union, consequently, is looking quite weak because it has no way to combat it’s member-states’ massive debt. The New York Times has an excellent article identifying what they think are the problems.

Whether he likes it or not, Jean-Claude Trichet is not just the president of the European Central Bank. Mr. Trichet, 67, is also the de facto president of Europe, at least for the 16 nations that rely on the euro as their common currency…But as investor alarm about Greek, Spanish and Portuguese indebtedness increases, the crisis has highlighted the fundamental weakness of the European monetary union. With no strong political arm to insure that members observe debt limits set by treaty, the responsibility ultimately falls to Mr. Trichet to try to bring the miscreants into line even as he struggles to calm jittery markets.

I will not make any judgments about whether the author, Jack Ewing, is correct–I’ll leave that to the readers, but it is certainly a persuasive article which I encourage everyone to read.


Dow hits high, Gold hits high, GE makes deal

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Ever since the collapse of the real estate and housing markets in 2008 there has been a widespread fear that this recession could possibly turn into another Great Depression. Indeed this has been one of the sharpest downturns in recent history for either those markets or the stock market in general.

The good news is that as of today the Dow-Jones is at a 14-month high. Dubai World’s debt problems eased, which helped to bolster the stock market higher than it has been in over a year. Gold also rose to new heights, hitting above $1200 per ounce. This is the first time gold has traded so high in its history–a mark which is bitter-sweet, as the price of gold often has an inverse relationship with the strength of the dollar.

Apparently GE is making some big moves as it regards Comcast, too.

GE is looking to sell a 51% stake in NBC Universal to Comcast, while retaining a 49% stake in the company that is valued at around $30 billion.

More on the latest uptick here.


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