Good morning

The headlines:

  1. America contractionary surprise!Link: I’m sorry – did everyone forget what “the fiscal cliff” was?

    The American economy contracted by 0.1% in the 4th quarter of 2012, thanks mostly (officially) to a dramatic slowdown in defence spending (-22.2%). And Hurricane Sandy.

    But many economists, whilst surprised, are not concerned. Because this was all totes an adjustment arising from fiscal cutbacks. And, um, “statistical noise”.

    Which is an economical way of saying that you weren’t wrong – the numbers are.

  2. Blackberry 10.Link: some ups, some downs, and mostly underwhelmed investors.

    The highlights from the launch:

    A closer picture:

    So apart from a slightly awkward moment when one of the features (a photo thing) didn’t work, the new BB10 is with us and on display. The CEO looked awkward throughout, but reviewers seem to be generally impressed.

    Investors, on the other hand, not so much. The share price stumbled 12% – undoubtedly once they realised that Blackberry, being the artist formerly known as RIM*, had basically invented an iPhone 4. With predictive text messaging. And facetime. And multitasking.

    *They also announced a change in name…

  3. Facebook profit drop.Link: where’s the line between “fall” and “plummet”?

    Facebook announced profits yesterday that had fallen by 79% for the last quarter, after operating costs leapt upward by 82%. Those are not small movements, to say the least. And definitely in the wrong direction.

    But revenues were up by 40%. And Wall Street is apparently more forgiving of higher costs when there is great revenue growth and the company is in start-up phase.

  4. Zimbabwe’s $217 bank account.Link: Zimbabwe isn’t bankrupt.

    Tendai Biti, after being much quoted for telling everyone that the Zimbabwean government was bankrupt had only $217 in its bank account after it paid salaries last week, has scolded journalists for misquoting him.

    “You journalists are mischievous and malicious – the point I was making was that the Zimbabwean government doesn’t have the funds to finance an election, to finance the referendum. To dramatise the point, I simply made passing reference metaphorically that when we paid civil servants last week on Thursday we were left with $217… but even the following day we had $30 million in our account.”

    After receiving $30 million in tax transfers. And Mr Biti and Patrick Chinamasa (the Minister of Justice) are now responsible for finding donors to fund the referendum and elections.

    Whatever else is happening, the Zimbabwean finance ministry is doing something fairly impressive: operating on a cash budget limited to their tax collections.

    Of course, there’s the enormously high economic cost of no capital investment (as clearly, a metaphorical $217 means that $217 is the budget for Capex once the operating costs of government are covered…). But still.

That’s all for now.

Have a good day.