From the Marketplace Datebook, here’s an extended look at what’s coming up next week. Yep, a whole week. So grab a seat:
- The first singing telegram is believed to have been delivered on February 10, 1933. Oh, how thoughtful.
- Every dog has its day. Or in this case, two days at the top of the week. The annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show takes place in New York City.
- It was sixty-five years ago that we met the character Willy Loman when "Death of a Salesman" premiered on Broadway. In a recent revival the role was played by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. Miss him already.
- On Tuesday some people observe Get Out your Guitar Day. I don’t. and I’m so glad my neighbors don’t either.
- On hump day…a look at the nation’s balance sheet. The Treasury department issues its monthly statement for January.
- February 14th is Valentines’ Day. If you haven’t bought a card yet do it now or you’ll end up with something less-than-fantastic because those guys who thought ahead have already cleaned out the cool cards with nice sentiments. Go. Go now.
- And we started with dogs, this is for the birds. To benefit our feathered friends, the annual Great Backyard Bird Count begins on Friday. Creating a record of where the birds are. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.
Noah Bryson Mamet's admission follows other embarrassing Obama nominee performances in the Senate.
You might call the January jobs reports released this morning A Tale of Two Surveys. First, there’s what's called the establishment survey, where businesses are asked how many jobs they created. Last month? Just 113,000 of 'em.
Not so good.
And then there's the household survey, where households are asked how many people are working. That one showed more than 600,000 new jobs last month, and helped kick the unemployment rate down to 6.6 percent. So which to believe?
Well, if conflicting employment reports stress you out, close your eyes and imagine the beach.
Doug Handler is chief U.S. economist for IHS Global Insight. He says the survey where tens of thousands of households reported that nice bump in employment is less precise than the payroll data.
"It’s like trying to predict the amount of water in the ocean by looking at the waves here,” he says. “You can broadly get a number, but from minute to minute or from month to month it’s tough to predict."
Plus, the household survey and the payroll tabulation measure slightly different things. Harry Holzer is an economist and public policy professor at Georgetown University.
"The self-employed in the household survey will say that they are employed, and there’s no such category in the payroll numbers, cause it’s only for employees," he says.
While many economists prefer the payroll survey, they say there’s something to the optimism in the household survey. That it should temper the gloom of the last two payroll reports. (December’s weak report was revised upwards to just 75,000 new jobs.)
Mark Vitner is managing director and senior economist at Wells Fargo. He knows folks were disappointed when they first saw today’s numbers.
"They said, well, the unemployment rate’s been declining but it’s been declining and it’s all because of a drop in the labor force,” he says. “Well, the labor force didn’t decline, it actually increased."
He says low job gains in December and January may have been caused by weather. And he says those disappointing payroll numbers may not look so disappointing if you see where the growth took place. Construction and manufacturing jobs are actually picking up, which he thinks is pulling people back into the labor force.
The Olympics has issues, ranging from construction problems to gay rights to the threat of terrorism.
But on Twitter and Internet message boards, the big complaint is against NBC for not broadcasting the games live.
During the last summer Olympics, media expert Jeff Jarvis was one of the folks complaining about the lack of live Olympics programming.
"This time, it doesn’t make much difference to me," says Jarvis.
For one thing, he can access lots more live games this year being streamed over the Internet. He would like to see more live sports televised, which Jarvis argues wouldn’t be bad for NBC’s business.
"As it turns out, when we knew what the results were from some events in the summer, it even drove more audience to watching the event. So I don’t think that having it on live necessarily takes away from also having it tape delayed in prime time," says Jarvis.
From a marketing standpoint, Jarvis can appreciate what the tape delay means for NBC.
"The advantage, additionally, of having tape delayed coverage is they can edit the heck out of it, and make sure they never run long so that you keep watching when they put in their favorite new sitcom."
Or, NBC’s reboot of the Tonight Show. During the Olympics, NBC will be promoting it non-stop
"I think we’ll see a lot of promos for Jimmy Fallon. I think it’s very smart that NBC is premiering the show February 17, while the Olympics is still going on," says Brad Adgate, senior VP of research for the ad buying firm, Horizon Media.
Other advertisers are eager to get their message on during the games too.
Compared to the demand from advertisers during the last winter games, Adgate says advertiser demand this year is "certainly a lot stronger this year than... in the Vancouver games of 2010."
NBC reportedly paid a little less than $900 million to produce and broadcast the Olympics coverage.
The network reports selling more than $800 million worth of ads so far. That’s a record for the winter games.
What better way to get through a difficult time than by investing in yourself?
If you’re a person, that can mean meditation, self-help books, eating right, and exercise. If you’re a company, that means buying your own stock. It’s called a stock buyback, and Apple just did it in grand style: The company has purchased $14 billion of its own shares in the two weeks since reporting lackluster financial results, and watching its stock price tumble.
"The reason the company’s doing this is that they’re trying to send a message to the market that they have confidence in the company’s outlook," says Bill Kreher, senior technology analyst for Edward Jones. "They believe the market misunderstands their story and is undervaluing their future prospects."
I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and doggone it, people, buy me!
But valuing itself isn't the only reason Apple is buying its own shares.
"It’s kind of like hush money," says Paul Kedrosky, parter with investment bank Garibaldi Capital. Kedrosky says Apple investors are frustrated their shares are losing value and, meanwhile, Apple’s sitting on $160 billion in cash reserves, and doesn’t appear to be investing in new research or buying up other companies.
"You don’t get to have it both ways. You don’t get to hang onto it, not buy anything, not spend more money on R&D and say, 'By the way, you investors can’t have it.' You don’t get to do that. You’re a public company and you have obligations. They created this trap for themselves and now they’re stuck."
Investors like stock buybacks, because they usually increase the value of their stock. "The cool thing is, if you’re a shareholder you discover that suddenly, you own a bigger fraction of the company," says James Angel, finance professor at Georgetown University. There are fewer shares for sale, so those shares are worth more.
That’s a lot of self love.
All told, Apple has said it plans to spend about $60 billion dollars on stock buybacks.
Stephen Kim, who was indicted in 2010 for allegedly revealing top-secret information relating to North Korea, will reportedly serve 13 months in prison as part of the plea deal.
The Assad regime and rebel leaders agreed on a plan to allow some civilians to leave the besieged city and to let some aid go in. On Friday, about 80 people were brought out. The group was mostly older men, but included some women and children.
The breathtaking lack of women in the tech industry has a real effect on one of America's most important economic and innovation engines. Join our running conversation on the cultural changes at play and what to do about it.