This week: Janet Yellen, the end of plasma television sets and the “dollar dominatrix”
Image of the week: Yellen the Dove
It would be a mistake to patronise Janet Yellen, nominated to be the next chairman of the Federal Reserve. She’s the “diminutive” woman who was this week referred to as “one of, if not the most, qualified nominee for this position ever” by a White House spokesman.
And yet in the months leading up to President Barack Obama’s eventual nod for Yellen (67), the whispers were that the number two at the Fed lacked the “gravitas” for the top job, which sounds very much like a heightist remark, given her credentials.
Yellen, who is dovish on monetary policy (meaning she is likely to keep interest rates low), will be the first woman to be chief of the US central bank. “Move over Merkel, Yellen may become the world’s most powerful woman,” said NBC News. Christine Lagarde also tweeted her congratulations.
Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
In numbers: Plasma death
Percentage of global television shipments that are plasma TVs, despite the fevered imagination of right-wing politicians who seem to believe that all of the undeserving own one.
Loss in yen (around €5.7 billion) made by Panasonic’s plasma screen division last year. The Japanese electronics company will stop production of plasma TV screens next year, according to reports.
Number of years before plasma TVs, having lost most of the advantages they had to LCD sets, will disappear, forecasts research company IHS.
The lexicon: Leveson
Leveson, as a noun, naturally refers to Sir Brian Leveson, the judge who presided over David Cameron’s inquiry into phone-hacking and other behaviours of the British press. But the man himself has spotted a new usage.
“I have become used to being an adjective,” he lamented this week to both a House of Lords committee and, the following day, to a group of MPs. The judge is seemingly unhappy about the fact that one of the two rival royal charters proposed to settle the question of press regulation in Britain is being referred to as “the Leveson charter”.
He’s also keen not to have to repeat himself on the subject. “I have said all I can say on the topic,” he argued yesterday. Given that “the Leveson report” was 2,000 pages-long, he has a point.
Getting to know: Meredith Whitney
The woman known – apparently – as the “Dollar Dominatrix” became one of the best-known stock analysts on Wall Street after she made devastatingly accurate bearish calls on the financial sector. While working for Oppenheimer & Co in 2008, her hourly rate to talk to its clients was $100,000, or so she has told the Financial Times.
But as Oppenheimer got most of the cash, she decided to go out on her own, launching Meredith Whitney Securities in 2009. But after three unprofitable years, which included some wrong “alarmist” calls on municipal bond defaults, the former Fortune cover star has now decided to wind down the brokerage and launch a hedge fund, Kenbelle Capital, instead. Her husband, a retired professional wrestler, goes by the equally intimidating nickname “Death Mask”.
The list: Corporate shutdown warnings
It is week two in the Washington’s game of political brinkmanship, and the chief executives of corporate behemoths are now queueing up to shout “stop messing about” at Obama and the Republicans who refused to approve his budget.
1 Starbucks: Chief executive Howard Schultz has urged his peers to put pressure on Congress to end the impasse, adding he was disappointed in a “level of irresponsibility and dysfunction” that not even gallons of coffee can fix.
2 Bank of America, Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase: How the tables have turned since the financial crisis, with bailed out banks now in a position to castigate the White House, not other way round.
3 Goldman Sachs: CEO Lloyd Blankfein, a registered Democrat, has criticised Republicans for using opposition to healthcare reform as a weapon that could drag the US into default.
4 Lockheed Martin: The shutdown has not been kind to the US war machine – sorry, defence industry – with the contractor putting 2,400 staff on leave.
5 Boeing: Frankly, the maker of the 787 Dreamliner has more problems than those created on Capitol Hill, but the furloughing of thousands of US aviation officials isn’t exactly helping.