Getting to know: Mary Jo White
The next head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Mary Jo White, is a former federal prosecutor turned white-collar defence lawyer.
She’s now set to go back on the offensive, building cases against fraudsters and embezzlers as Washington seeks to keep Wall Street honest.
After a string of regulatory failures during the sub-prime debacle and the embarrassing Bernard Madoff affair, it shouldn’t be too difficult for White to step the SEC’s investigative prowess up a gear and make President Obama look like he’s keeping control of renegade financiers.
During her time as the US attorney for the southern district of New York, White oversaw the prosecution of mafia boss John Gotti as well as those responsible for the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.
In Numbers: Self-assembled empire
Record net profit earned by Swedish furniture company Ikea in its 2011/12 financial year, up 8 per cent on the previous year. The chain decided to keep larger stocks than usual to improve product availability in its giant stores.
Worldwide sales of Ikea’s sort-of-flat-packed furniture – plus a few billion meatballs – during the 12 months to August 2012. It wants to double global sales by 2020.
Number of stores Ikea plans to open in India over the long term. It received approval this week from India’s foreign investment promotion board and is now waiting on the go-ahead from the Indian cabinet. (Note: not the self-assembly kind of cabinet.)
The Lexicon: Resilient dynamism
“Resilient dynamism”, as opposed to dynamic resilience, is the focus of this week’s World Economic Forum at Davos.
Over to the organisers: “We live in the most complex, interdependent and interconnected era in human history . . . This reality presents a new leadership context, shaped by adaptive challenges as well as transformational opportunities . . . Dynamism in this context requires successful organisations to demonstrate strategic agility and to possess risk resilience.”
Essentially, this year’s Davos is like an extreme yoga class for the powerful.
Image of the week Cameron goes to Davos
You fly into Davos, Switzerland, for an inconsequential bash, high on the almost uniformly positive domestic press reaction to your big speech on Europe the day before, but weary of the whole business of trying to please your permanently tetchy backbenchers by referring to Britain’s role in defeating Nazism.
And then you remember . . . you’re going to have to have dinner with François Hollande one of these days, and he seems a touch hacked off with your electioneering euro-politics right now. What was it the French president said? Europe is not “a la carte”, where member states can pick and choose the bits they like. Europe is “for life”. It certainly feels that way.
At least Angela Merkel talked about “fair compromises”. Don’t dwell, David, focus on the skiing crowd at hand. Concentrate on spelling out the difference between tax evasion and tax avoidance that every millionaire at Davos already knows. Hey, that G8 summit in June is going to be fun, isn’t it? Isn’t it?
The List: Apple analysis
Apple dared to miss estimates for iPhone sales in the last quarter, sending analysts racing to outdo each other in the “Apple is toast” stakes. (Its share price is down 35 per cent since September.) Here are five mostly unimpressed analyses of the company’s performance.
1 Phone issues:Analyst Peter Mizek at Jefferies Co said the iPhone slowdown was “real and material” and that consumers preferred larger screens.
2 Give us new stuff:Nomura analysts noted Apple craves the buzz of a new product, but sighed that “few seem likely before June”.
3 Stop being choosy:Evercore Partners suggested the high-end Apple should maybe do the unthinkable and “target more of the mainstream”.
4 Drop price tags:In practice, chasing the mainstream means bringing out products such as a cheaper iPhone, which was the suggestion of Deutsche Bank.
5 Oh come on, it sold 47.8 million iPhones:JP Morgan professed to be “surprised” by the sharp fall in Apple’s share price and reiterated its “overweight” recommendation.