Missed the news this week? Here's a quick recap of what happened and how it might be affecting your portfolio:
Paulson gets on his soapbox
What happened? On the eve on his first visit to China, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has announced that China must strengthen the value of the yuan against the dollar, in order to fairly value the cost of Chinese exports.
What does this mean? Paulson, two months into office, is on a mission to jack up the yuan so that American-made products can compete in a more favorable environment for the voracious consumption appetite of U.S. consumers. Incidentally, Senate leaders Charles Schumer of New York and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina have vowed to push legislation that will put tariffs on Chinese products should Paulson fail to influence adjustments. This all leads to the hope that the yuan will begin to trade more freely against the dollar, leading to a reduction in the record trade deficit with the U.S. Is this likely to happen in the next few weeks? Probably not.
Cloak and dagger at HP
What happened? The boardroom at Hewlett-Packard
What does this mean? Dunn's tactics have resulted in a tarnished image for the company, which has recently made much-needed gains against the giants of the PC manufacturing industry. Whether this will affect the long-term viability of the business remains to be seen. For the time being, the controversy hasn't dramatically affected the performance of the stock. What is clear, however, is that invasive and possibly illegal investigation techniques, even within a company, will result in scandal and more.
Bankers see black
What happened? Three major investment institutions have experienced impressive growth this quarter, according to recent earnings announcements. Lehman Brothers
What does this mean? Investment banks were on the winning side of the oft-disappointing earnings game on Wall Street. Despite a slow summer, both Lehman Brothers and Goldman Sachs reported stronger-than-expected revenue from their investment management departments. Meanwhile, Bear Stearns announced that net income climbed 16% this quarter, due in part to fixed-income revenues, which grew 19% since last year. All in all, there is a lingering sense of uncertainty with regard to the major banking institutions. Interest rate movements are still very much in question, and with the possibility of depressed economic growth for the nation, there is much to be concerned about.
Google: Charity for profit?
What happened? On Wednesday, Google's
What does this mean? Wait, they're doing what? While Google.org's mission is to combat global poverty as well as various other issues plaguing our earth, the company maintains its right to profit off such ventures. This is strangely different from the charitable offerings of Microsoft's Bill Gates and Berkshire's Warren Buffett. In fact, it is completely different. Rather than using part of their combined $22 billion in personal wealth, the founders intend to use company money. Is this justifiable in the eyes of shareholders? I do laud the company for joining the philanthropic ranks. However, if you own shares of Google, I would investigate this issue much more closely and decide if a for-profit charity is something you want your money spent on.
Make room for Mario at Thanksgiving
What happened? Video game manufacturer Nintendo has announced that its new Wii system will be available Nov. 19, at the relatively consumer-friendly price of $250.
What does this mean? The timely arrival of Wii is not good news for either Microsoft
Lights" may become a heavy liability
What happened? A federal judge heard arguments this week on a lawsuit claiming cigarette makers deliberately marketed "light" cigarettes to consumers who thought they were a healthier alternative to regular cigarettes. The judge will decide whether the case can be made into a class-action suit.
What does this mean? According to statistics provided by Reuters, smokers spent nearly $7 billion a year over 30 years purchasing "light" cigarettes. Should this case come to fruition as a class-action suit, it could be devastating for the bottom line of cigarette makers like Altria Group
Welcome to a new age in investing
What happened? On Sept. 13, The Motley Fool ushered investors into a new era of investing acumen with the launch of CAPS, a peer-driven, intelligent community for investors.
What does this mean? Until now, it was relatively difficult for investors to research a stock, analyze its performance, and get a consensus from a large group of investors. With the launch of CAPS, this information is now at our fingertips. According to Fool co-founder David Gardner, the CAPS system ensures that "we all arrive at better information, deeper insights, broader perspectives, and bigger profits than a single mom-and-pop investor, or a single Wall Street analyst, or even an entire hedge-fund research team. We're building a new model for research that brings together tens of thousands of people, not one lone analyst." For a more in-depth explanation, click on this interview with David Gardner, welcoming old and new Fools alike to this groundbreaking system. Click here to become a member of the free beta service.
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Fool contributor Nick Kapur does not own shares of any stocks mentioned above. Electronic Arts is a three-time Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.