Monthly Archives: August 2013

What I’ve Been up to This Summer

2013 08 22 bloombergdotcom

I’ve had quite a twelve months.

After completing an intensive nine-month master’s in business and economics journalism at Columbia in late May, I embarked on an equally memorable, though shorter, experience: a ten week internship at Bloomberg News‘s headquarters here in New York.

I finished at Bloomberg last Friday. It was a fantastic experience.

This recent BBC video provides a look the Bloomberg HQ as a workplace.

And embedded below — and online here — is an overview of Bloomberg’s operations.

I worked on the Emerging Markets team, assisting with coverage of everything from debt markets in Argentina to global currencies to equities in Mexico.

Here are links and snippets from just a few of the stories I worked on:

China Out of 10 Biggest Stocks as PetroChina Ousted:

Chinese companies have dropped out of the ranks of the world’s 10 biggest stocks by market value for the first time since 2006 amid a cash crunch, slower growth and the biggest U.S. stock rally in a decade.

Give Us Your Real Dollars for Our Fake Dollars: Argentina Credit:

President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s wish of being able to print dollars is coming true as the central bank begins issuing dollar-denominated certificates today that trade in pesos.

Slim’s Frisco Surges as Gold Mine Strike Ends: Mexico City Mover:

Minera Frisco SAB, billionaire Carlos Slim’s gold and silver mining company, gained the most in two years after saying the government intervened to help end a strike at its biggest mine.

‘Fragile Five’ currencies unravel as developing economies suffer:

Emerging-market currencies are trailing their peers in advanced economies by the most since 2009 as a global recovery eludes countries from China to Brazil.

While helping out on stories like these was excellent training, perhaps my most instructive experiences came during the interactions I had in the newsroom with some truly top-notch reporters.

The timing of the internship worked well, too: This year at Columbia, I studied corporate finance; financial accounting; the history and future of journalism; computational journalism; and more.

And this summer at Bloomberg, I was able to put what I’d just learned to practical use in a fast-paced, competitive, collaborate environment where news moves the market in real time. In short, it was the perfect way to spend the summer.

So, looking ahead: What’s next for me over the coming twelve months?

Stay tuned.

Jim Stewart on the NYT’s Future Following the WaPo Sale

2013 08 11 wapo front page

I was lucky enough to study with Jim Stewart at Columbia this year, and I always look forward to reading his New York Times column, called “Common Sense.”

In his stories, Stewart often examines complex business and economics issues by focusing on facts and evidence and questioning conventional wisdom.

His latest column, which ran Friday, is especially intriguing, as it concerns the current profitability and long-term prospects of The New York Times, his very employer.

Following Jeff Bezos’s purchase of The Washington Post, Stewart asks: Would the Sulzbergers, the family that owns the Times, ever sell the paper?

The family says the NYT isn’t on the block, and Stewart highlights an important point — one which is often overlooked when people make assumptions about the newspaper industry: The Times, unlike the Post, is making money:

That The Times and its controlling family would be among the last survivors should come as no surprise, since it is the strongest of the great newspapers journalistically, and it is profitable. The Times has won 112 Pulitzer Prizes since 1918, including four this year, more than any other newspaper. A week ago, The Times reported quarterly operating earnings of $77.8 million, up 13 percent from a year earlier.

By contrast, The Washington Post’s newspaper division had losses of $53.7 million last year, with no end in sight.

With the Post owned by billionaire Jeff Bezos, “In stark financial terms, The Times is now a minnow in a sea of sharks” compared to companies like News Corporation, Facebook, Google, and others with huge market capitalizations, Stewart writes.

He continues:

Nearly everyone I spoke to this week praised The Times for what it has done with its resources. In contrast with Mr. Graham’s comment that he had no answers, The Times has articulated a strategy that addresses many of the pressing questions facing newspapers, and it seems to have been yielding results.

And:

Like The Post, The Times has tried to improve profitability by reducing costs, including the size of the newsroom. But that can go only so far before it begins to affect the quality of the news operation. It may be even more difficult if, as expected, Mr. Bezos invests in The Post’s national news operation. “The likelihood is that The Post and The New York Times will be competing head-to-head in a way they haven’t since the days of Abe Rosenthal and Ben Bradlee,” both legendary editors of The Post and The Times, Mr. Jones said.

The column is worth a read.

Meanwhile, for more on the WaPo sale and what it all means for the economics of journalism, see:

Thai Amnesty Bill Clears Lower House

A quick follow up on the protests in Thailand I mentioned a few days back:

The AP reports:

Thai lawmakers gave initial approval Thursday to a controversial bill to grant amnesty to people charged with political offenses during turmoil that began with a 2006 military coup.

The lower house of parliament voted 300 to 124 to accept the government-sponsored bill in principle after a two-day debate. Critics of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra fear it is an initial move toward allowing his return from overseas, where he fled to avoid jail after a conflict of interest conviction.

And:

Opposition from outside parliament was unexpectedly weak, and fears of major clashes involving street protests were not realized. The fate of Thaksin, who was ousted by the coup after being accused of corruption and disrespect for Thailand’s revered monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, arouses fierce passions that sometimes have erupted into violence.

Meanwhile, The Guardian has a story on the protests, along with some analysis from Thitinan Pongsudhirak:

Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a political scientist at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University, said the protests demonstrated a disenchantment” with the government but it was highly unlikely that they would overthrow it.

“The protest really is designed to unseat the government. But the anti-Thaksin coalition is not united, there is unlikely to be any intervention by the military or the judiciary, and there is not enough traction, not enough numbers [from the protesters], for them to really succeed,” he said.

The BBC has a video report, including remarks from former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

And here’s a roundup of media coverage from Bangkok Pundit.

And finally, The Bangkok Post reports today that:

Authorities were confident they could easily handle the group of anti-government demonstrators still camping at Lumpini Park on Friday following the lifting of the Internal Security Act (ISA), saying they present no threat.

Bezos Paid 17 Times Adjusted Profit for the Washington Post

Bloomberg reports today:

Jeff Bezos’s purchase of the Washington Post may look like a steal, yet it came at a rich valuation that newspapers such as the New York Times Co. (NYT) may only dream of obtaining.

The founder of Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) plunked down $250 million for the Post newspaper division, about 17 times adjusted profit, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That multiple implies a valuation for the New York Times of about $4 billion — more than double its current market value. Major metropolitan newspapers should fetch 3 or 4 times profit, said research firm Outsell Inc.

“Bezos paid a friendship premium of $200 million here,” Ken Doctor, a media analyst at Burlingame, California-based Outsell, said in a phone interview. “There are a handful of news brands in the world that will merit some kind of premium over the usual multiple, but the multiple over the multiple here seems really high.”

Thailand Protests: More to Come This Week?

The AP reports:

Thailand’s capital braced Sunday for possible unrest in the week ahead, with street protests expected over moves in parliament that could eventually lead to a pardon for ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

As many as 2,000 protesters calling themselves the People’s Army Against the Thaksin Regime turned up Sunday for a peaceful rally in a Bangkok park. But bigger and more militant protests are expected when parliament on Wednesday begins debating an amnesty bill that would cover people arrested for political activities since the 2006 military coup that ousted Thaksin for alleged corruption and disrespect to the monarchy.

There are also stories from the WSJ and the Bangkok Post.

For a comprehensive look at the amnesty bill’s political and economic implications, see this Bloomberg story from last week.