"Tangled Up in Blue" by Bob Dylan and Wall Street's floor traders
It's not only manufacturing workers losing out in the new automated world and, according to the New York Post earlier this week, it's not just Dylan tangled up in blue. An article in Sunday's Post reported that Wall Street traders are increasingly seeking the council of psychologists as layoffs on the trading floors of Wall Street put a damper on holiday cheer for these soldiers of the exchange floor.
Now, while I'm not going to speculate on whether traders are really heading to the couch en masse, I thought this did nicely underscore how broad the effect of technological advances has been. Most of what I hear on the subject seems to revolve around low-skilled manufacturing jobs, but this is a good reminder that technology is blind to whom it is putting out of work.
Historically, the NYSE
While the NYSE doesn't seem intent on completely phasing humans on the floor out any time soon, it has made several moves over the past few years to increase its electronic trading capabilities. In 2001, it introduced NYSE Direct+, a fully electronic trading platform that now makes up more than 10% of the total volume on the NYSE. Then in 2005, NYSE announced the acquisition of Archipelago, which was one of the top dogs in electronic trading at that time -- a deal that created the for-profit, publicly traded NYSE Group. And just earlier this month, NYSE decided to buy out the one-third of Securities Industry Automation Corp. (SIAC) that it didn't already own from the Amex. NYSE is also currently in "Phase III" of rolling out its Hybrid Market, which it claims "integrates the best aspects of the auction market with automated trading."
For specialists, floor traders, and specialist firms like LaBranche
"Video Killed the Radio Star" by The Buggles and YouTube
OK, OK, so the radio star was killed a long time ago. Maybe we could say that YouTube remade the video star -- or at least the 30-second video star. YouTube, that famous $1.65 billion acquisition by Google
As a YouTube addict myself, as well as somebody very skeptical of videos on tiny cell phone screens, I thought the announcement was pretty interesting. Though I don't get excited about the idea of watching much of anything on my cell phone, being able to watch a 50-second video of the Governator raving that a friend sent over does sound compelling (but maybe that's just me). YouTube videos, which are typically short and low resolution, are really better suited for a cell phone screen than that new 60-inch plasma TV up on the wall.
My preferences aside, though, this deal is a step in the right direction for Google as it looks to monetize its biggest acquisition to date. Despite YouTube's runaway popularity, the company hadn't really started turning eyeballs into dollars before the acquisition. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed, but it's probable that YouTube will see some of the $15 per month that Verizon charges users for the V Cast service they'll need to watch those kitschy YouTube videos.
"Surrender" by Cheap Trick and homesellers
In the face of month after month of declining existing home sales and weakening prices, it appears that homeowners in the market to sell are starting to give up the ghost and get aggressive on price cutting. On Tuesday, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) announced that though sales of existing homes edged up in October, median home prices were down 3.5% from a year ago -- the largest drop on record. NAR's chief economist David Lereah noted that the size of the price decline was partially due to a spike in prices last October, but he suggested that prices would remain weak through the end of the year and likely into the first quarter as well.
After the go-go times in the real estate market over the past few years, the poor state of the market has been a drag on the U.S. economy for much of this year. Based on Lereah's comments and the consistent declines in both sales and prices of existing homes month after month, home owners looking to sell may still have some pain ahead. Don't tell the homebuilders, though -- in the Motley Fool CAPS investing service, the residential construction group has been up 11.7% collectively over the past 30 days. CAPS members haven't been convinced, as most of the major homebuilders like KB Home
"One Nation Under a Groove" by Funkadelic featuring Apple, SanDisk, and . Microsoft?
Every time I find myself in downtown San Francisco, I'm reminded just how much we're becoming one nation under a groove, as I see more and more people with those signature white wires sprouting from their ears. Of course, those white wires also remind me that Apple's
But what of the Evil Empire's -- that's Microsoft
With Christmas right around the corner, we should have a good idea pretty soon just how much, if at all, Zune will bite into Apple's iPod. My guess is that it's a lot more likely to turn things sour for the non-iPod MP3 players.
Bonus Track: "He Stopped Loving Her Today" by George Jones (Oakenfold and Kerkorian day-after remix)
Remember the last mix tape, when we played this track as Kirk sold off 14 million shares of General Motors
Tune into more melodic Foolishness:
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When it comes to getting our nation under a groove, George is by far Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer ' s favorite Clinton. He does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. The Fool's disclosure policy is always groovy.