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Marketplace Scratch Pad

Funny how?

Scott Jagow Sep 1, 2009

It’s kind of a slow news day, which is fine by me. But I have a few things to point out that are curious, interesting or downright hilarious.

Item #1
Apparently, in an effort to penny-pinch, parents have been leaving their kids home when they go out to eat. Restaurants have noticed this. In an article titled, “Restaurants look beyond chicken fingers” the Wall Street Journal says this summer, two chains added kids menus, Cheesecake Factory and PF Changs:

The new menu includes such entrees as the Baby Buddha’s Feast, which contains steamed or stir-fried snap peas, carrots and broccoli, and kids’ lo mein, or egg noodles stir-fried with chicken. “We were never going to do hot dogs, French fries or peanut butter. We wanted to offer kids items that are on our menu,” Mr. Tasman said.

Just to be clear, there will be no peanut butter available if you take your kids to PF Changs. Elsewhere, IHop is offering a healthier menu item for the kids — a Tilapia dish served with broccoli.

Tilapia and broccoli. For the children. I imagine sales have skyrocketed.

But seriously, parents do want healthier restaurant options for their kids, so IHop should be commended for trying. It’s just kind of a strange choice.

Item #2
Another unusual thing. Friday, Target will put up four vinyl billboards in Times Square. They’re being created by local artists, as described here by a New York fashion blog:

Target’s new jumbo boards will buck the Times Square trend towards mind-numbing digitized signs that have infested the area of late, and in their old-school pop art vibe will depict such city favorites as the beloved potato pie, Empire State Building, coffee, the Statue of Liberty and proclamations of love for itself.

And then… the billboards will be turned into tote bags. Anna Sui totes, which I guess might mean something to someone. Anyway, you can pick out a piece of the billboard and have a tote bag made for just $30. It’s not a new idea – here’s a website that does this regularly – but it’s kind of cool.

Item #3
Thought you might want to flip through the Vanity Fair 100. Just came out today. It’s an annual ranking of the most powerful people of the “Information Age.”

Number one on the list is Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, which might be a convincing choice if VF hadn’t included a picture of him. I don’t know, have a look for yourself and see if you don’t say: That guy is the most powerful person of the information age???

A sample of his description:

STAGE OF GLOBAL CONQUEST: It’s hard to imagine a financial institution that has weathered the economic crisis as well as Goldman Sachs has. Wall Street’s most watched and talked-about erstwhile investment bank took just seven months to shake the government off its back–it repaid its tarp funds ($10 billion) in June–and return to doing what it does best: making money. Goldman’s second-quarter net income of $3.4 billion shocked even the most cynical observers, of which there were many, thanks to the firm’s insidious tentacles, which stretch from Wall Street to Washington.

SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF: In 2008, the firm earned $2.3 billion and paid a mere $14 million in taxes, an effective tax rate of 1 percent, the result of what Goldman calls “changes in geographic earnings mix.” Critics say this could be offshore tax havens, a charge that Goldman denies.

ON THE RECORD: “We regret that we participated in the market euphoria and failed to raise a responsible voice.”

He probably doesn’t regret it that much.

Blankfein is followed by a fairly predictable list of Steve Jobs, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett and the Google guys. Top woman on the list — Angelina Jolie at #8.

She’s tied with… uh, Brad Pitt.

Item #4
The Onion continues its slam-bang coverage of the economy with another edition of Financial Fallout Shelter. My word, this is funny…

U.S. To Trade Gold Reserves For Cash Through Cash4Gold.com

Funny how? I mean, funny, like I’m a clown? I’m here to amuse you?

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