The times, they are a changin' at General Motors (NYSE: GM ) , where the boardroom could be a museum of American corporate bureaucracy and machismo. Well, move over, Jack Donaghy, and make room for Mary Barra, the first ever woman to lead a big car company. She will take over in January.
On Monday, the Treasury Department sold its last shares of GM that were given in exchange for the government bailout of 2009. On Tuesday, GM announced a new CEO. GM is excited about the rebirth and rebranding of the company as a progressive and modern automaker: no more red tape, no more U.S. government ownership, and a woman as CEO.
Mary Barra is a 33-year veteran of the company and will be replacing the former Naval officer (who happens to have the best power dome in the business). The hallmark news for women in corporate America was on front pages everywhere Tuesday. And GM stock trickled down 1.2% on the news.
Apparently it's no longer in style to be Chip Wilson. The founder of lululemon athletica (NASDAQ: LULU ) announced that he's stepping down as chairman (but will stay on the board), after violating the first rule of management: Don't offend everybody. He recently claimed that "some women's bodies just actually don't work" in Lululemon yoga pants.
3. Starbucks sales not hot enough
Unfortunately for Planet Earth's biggest coffee chain, the legendary red-holiday-cups-everywhere aren't paying off. Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX ) fell nearly 4% midday and finished down 2.7% Tuesday as sales rose by 6% last quarter -- slightly below the previous two quarters' growth.
4. Regulators approve "Volcker Rule"
There's one more thing I-banks aren't allowed to do anymore, after five regulatory agencies approved the "Volcker Rule" Tuesday. This rule forbids banks from gambling with customers' deposits that are federally insured. It's been written and rewritten for over three years since the Dodd-Frank reform was passed in 2010, but now it's finally going to happen.
Paul Volcker is a legendary former Fed chairman who thinks it's insane to let banks make risky investments with money that belongs to customers. Politicians agreed, and now we have the rule banning the profitable trading business that used to generate as much as 10% of Wall Street banks' total profits. The law is supposed to protect taxpayers from banks' risky business, but it's terribly complicated and the rule is more than 1,000 pages long. We hope banks finish reading it by 2015, when it begins to be enforced.
- The Treasury reports its monthly budget.