Marketplace Scratch Pad

Morning reading

Paddy Hirsch Nov 6, 2009

Scott Jagow is out today – he’ll be back Monday.

Meanwhile, here’s a little Friday food for thought.

The bear is back

It was only a handful of years ago that people would have laughed if you’d told them Russia was issuing bonds – the country defaulted in 1998 and until recently, all but the most iron-stomached investors have held the country at barge-pole length. But Bloomberg reports Russia is considering going back to the bond market.

“A lot of debtors in 1998 said they’d never touch Russia again, but memory in the bond market is short, so they are all lining up,” said Saleh Daher, the managing director of Boston- based Turan Corp., which owns Russian debt dating back to the Soviet era. “There is a wall of cash looking for investment, in particular in the emerging-market bond world.”

The NY Times reports that any bond issue would be likely to draw keen interest from investors because Russia, the world’s largest energy exporting nation, is in far better shape financially than a decade ago.

But there’s a reason the bear is going back to the well. It’s spending so much on stimulus that even with its oil advantage and its reserves, it could end up running a massive deficit.

Buyer beware.

Game on

What happens to properties when tenant companies close up shop and the owners can’t find anyone to move in or buy? They become playgrounds.

Busy enough with occupied buildings, police and fire crews aren’t able to do much to protect abandoned sites like the Packard plant or people who venture into them … the onus is on building owners anyway, says John Roach, a spokesman.

Poppa needs some new shoes!

Black Friday is coming, and I’m looking forward to getting some bargains on some quality footwear in the sales. Apparently I’m not alone, except that most Americans seem reluctant to wait that long!

The American public, it would seem, cannot carry on without new shoes. Boots, booties, sneakers, pumps — for the last few months they have all been selling well as the broader economy struggles toward recovery.

Then there’s this quote from Jamie Boucher, a lawyer in Washington: “I think about value much more than perhaps I did before,” said Ms. Boucher. “But you’ve still got to have your shoes.”

You go, girl!

Want to kill some bankers?
I thought that would get your attention. Well, a report in, of all places, The American Banker, says there’s an app for that.

The game features cash-hungry bankers attempting to raid the White House for bailout cash and it’s up to the player to stop them. That involves tapping the bankers, allowing you to fling them around, hold them and shake them, and even double tapping to blow them up. Given the pace of the onslaught, however, that is not enough. Players earn gold for each banker they successfully kill, which eventually can be used to purchase and upgrade a sniper, tank, and a satellite laser-wielding Uncle Sam that help fend off the horde of bankers.

Now if only I could get Marketplace to spring for an iPhone.

Milken it

You may think Michael Milken looks a bit like a Borg, but there’s no resisting his logic this time.

In 1980s, people constantly told investors “No one ever lost money by loaning money to a country.” But the U.S. only got 30 cents on the dollar from a sovereign loan to Poland. The loss in sovereign loan totaled $1 trillion in those years, but investors continued to believe these assets aren’t risky. This dramatic example tells us that people in senior positions, such as those in the Fed and run major banks, make statements that are just 100% false.

Absolutely no way I can argue with that.

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