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Minyanville's Business Briefs Exposed: Wal-Mart, The Gap, Exxon...


Business Briefs from a uniquely Minyanville perspective.


Relax, it's only money.

Here in the 'Ville we like to keep things smart, but we also love to laugh. All work and no know how it goes. With that in mind we proudly introduce The "Off-Balance Sheet," a place where Minyans can experience humorous takes on the world of finance, personal stories from our Professors and Minyans and all the other stuff that makes life worth living. So take a break from the flickering ticks and dive in.

Do As We Say, Not As We Do

The Bush administration, under pressure from Congress to do something about America's soaring trade deficit, filed a trade dispute case Friday alleging that China is using government support and tax policies to bolster Chinese firms in competition against U.S. firms, and consequently hampering U.S. efforts to use government support and tax policies to bolster U.S. firms in competition against Chinese firms.

Fed Goes Soft On Explicit Inflation Targeting

In Washington, the Federal Reserve continued to debate whether a "soft" inflation target would be preferable to an explicit one. When asked for his take on the situation, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said, "I've always favored the explicit, like Juggs and… wait, can you repeat the question?"

The Deal's In the Bag

An investor group led by TowerBrook Capital Partners is close to an agreement to acquire fashion-shoe designer Jimmy Choo for $354 million, according to the Wall Street Journal. Negotiations currently hinge on whether TowerBrook Capital Partners are able to find some nice matching handbags by Saturday afternoon.

Biden His Time 'Til He Loses the Primary

The Financial Times on Friday noticed that both teams vying on Sunday for the National Football League title have black head coaches. "For advocates of equal opportunity, the Soul Bowl, as some are calling it, is long overdue," the Financial Times said. Meanwhile, closer to home, Presidential candidate Senator Joe Biden (D- DE) offered his thoughts on the Soul Bowl, saying he is looking forward to an articulate and bright and clean and well-coached game.

Empty, Sinking Feeling (In My Bank Account)

Americans spent more than they earned for the second consecutive year last year, pushing the personal savings rate down to the lowest level since the Great Depression, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. In a related story, do you think you can, like, slip me a hundred bucks for the weekend, or even just forty or fifty, for like food and beer and stuff? Things have been a little tight lately.

More for Everybody

Between 1995 and 2004, the number of millionaire households in the U.S. more than doubled, according to statistics from the Federal Reserve. There are now nine million households in the U.S. with a net worth of $1 million or more, out of a total U.S. population of about 300 million people. Or, put in context, there is now one house worth robbing for every 33 U.S. citizens.

Biggest Profit Ever!

Exxon Mobil recorded the biggest profit ever by an American company with $39.5 billion. Analysts say this was due in part to the company rolling out a new pricing structure for their fuels, with levels at the pump ranging from "totally unaffordable" all the way up to "frickin' insane".

AstraZeneca Building Market Share Internally

Drug maker AstraZeneca said that it would cut 3,000 jobs, or nearly 4.6 percent of its work force, to ensure future profit growth. Most of these profits are expected to come from sales of a new anti-depressant, which AstraZeneca hopes to sell to most, if not all, 3,000 of its newly-jobless employees.

The Gap: Rearranging Deck Chairs On the Titanic

The Gap announced on Friday it is replacing president Cynthia Harriss, in preparation for a major overhaul of its brand. Interim CEO Robert J. Fisher said, "We're taking things in a completely different direction. We've already introduced eight new shades of khaki and we're going to be moving the pockets on our pocket tees from the left side of the shirt to the right side."

Wal-Mart Faces An Inconvenient Truth

Wal-Mart Chief Executive Lee Scott unveiled a new environmental plan on Thursday, challenging employees, suppliers and customers to remove nonrenewable energy from their lives. Scott unveiled the plan, called "Sustainability 360," in a 258,000 page press release made entirely out of Styrofoam, oil, and rare ivory from the tusks of the near-extinct African Elephant.

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