The Long Weekend
Who doesn’t love a long weekend? I can’t think of too many, and that goes double for those of us who slave away on the morning shift. Getting to work in the wee hours (as many of us here have done for years) is great for beating traffic, but it doesn’t do much for those dark circles we have around our eyes. So, any extra chance to get some sleep is sorely welcomed.
And yet, there’s a sense of dread as well. Those charged with planning a morning show like “Squawk Box”, for instance, are essentially flying blind. Basically, there you are on Friday afternoon trying to figure out what will be relevant on Tuesday morning.
Luckily, the news gods (or the late presidents whose holiday gave us Monday off) were smiling upon us. We already knew that both Wal-Mart Stores and Home Depot would be reporting earnings on Tuesday morning, so we were able to plan for that in advance. But the biggest news blessing came Monday (when the markets were closed) when we heard that Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Satellite Radio had agreed to merge. And, speaking strictly from a news point of view, it was the best kind of merger one could have.
It involves an interesting business whose future has often come under question, and a deal that’s already stirring up plenty of controversy over whether it should, in fact, be approved by federal regulators. Bingo! Did someone say mega-guest slots filled?
And -- not that we enjoy the misery of others -- but JetBlue’s continuing mea culpa tour by CEO David Neeleman was also a holiday weekend blessing. The numerous business and investment angles -- plus Neeleman’s appearance on "Squawk On The Street" -- proved to be another post-holiday gift to help feed the hungry TV beast.
Of course, all this required a good deal of conferencing and guest booking by people who were supposed to be enjoying their day off, but bottom line, we had such a full show you would never have known the newsroom had been closed since Friday.
Should we stay or should we go? No, we weren’t having a Clash karaoke retrospective -- we were debating last week whether senior economics reporter Steve Liesman should be sent to Duke University to cover a speech by Federal Reserve Governor Susan Bies.
It wasn’t a slam-dunk either way: Gov. Bies has already announced her resignation from the Fed, and although she’ll remain for another month or so, she will not vote at the March 20-21 FOMC meeting.
The subject of the speech was the mortgage market -- ordinarily not a market moving topic. But given the recent problems with the subprime market highlighted by HSBC and others, we figured it might be worthwhile to spend the money and send Steve.
As it turns out, we’re glad we did. The comments on the mortgage market had some slight impact on the Treasury market, but it was Bies’ upbeat assessment of housing and inflation that reassured equity investors, shaved early losses, and sent the Dow and other major averages to record highs.