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Two-Way Street With Allen Wastler

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  Tuesday, 22 Apr 2008 | 11:47 AM ET

A New Way to Determine Lies

Posted By: Allen Wastler

Hey, check out this thing that could mean the end of journalists.

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  Monday, 21 Apr 2008 | 1:30 PM ET

Would You Like a Tee Shirt with that Headline?

Posted By: Allen Wastler

This must surely be one of the Seven Signs of the Apocalypse (... at least if you are a journalist).

CNN is selling tee shirts. In its news space. Take a look ... a little icon right next to the headline.

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  Sunday, 20 Apr 2008 | 1:26 PM ET

Getting Global with Our World Markets Page

Posted By: Allen Wastler

Are you a world market junkie? Interested in seeing how indexes are performing elsewhere? Well, we scrubbed up our World Markets page just for you.

We have global overview data up top. Below you'll find the major indexes divvied up by the major market areas: Americas, Europe, and Asia. We hope you'll find it useful. It's part of a continuing effort to make all our pages, large and small, better and better for readers.

Now from time to time we get emails from readers asking why don't we have index information about a particular favorite market. Believe me, if we had our druthers, we'd have every single market listed. However, not all exchanges are free and easy with their info.

In some instances they charge quite a bit of money to report our their information. While it makes sense to pay such fees for Big Markets ... some of the smaller ones don't really give you much bang for the buck.

Then there is the question of which data providers they'll allow to into their market to feed out that information ... and whether that data can be redistributed ... and whether it can be in real time and so on. It gets complicated ... and expensive ... quickly.

So don't take the fact that we lack index information for, say, the Republic of Freedonia, as an insult. It may be a combination of expense and logistics that's keeping it off the page.

Of course, if you really, really, really think we should have Freedonia, you can drop me a note. If enough people pull for it .. well, you never know.

(Yes, we're still noodling for a name for this blog . We've had some pretty good suggestions so far).

Questions? Comments? We want to hear from you: allen.wastler@cnbc.com

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  Friday, 18 Apr 2008 | 4:01 PM ET

Gurgling Google and a Real Company

Posted By: Tyler Mathisen

From Tyler Mathisen:

Today's moves for Dow and Nasdaq confirm for me something I've been thinking about a lot lately. It's that big parts of America's economy are performing well. It's difficult to remember that fact, especially when so much of the financial system is choking on the credit crunch hairball -- and when so much of the financial media live in the same towns with the banking and I-banking men and women who see their businesses melting away.

Take Google , up 20% at mid-day today after yesterday's profit report. According to our tech reporter Jim Goldman, that company has added $34 billion in market value today alone. Eric Schmidt, the Google CEO and my high school classmate at dear old Yorktown High in Arlington, Virginia, made a billion today. (He was really good a math.) His buddies, the Google founders Sergei and Larry (Brin and Page, respectively), made roughly three times as much. It's easy to see why Google is gurgling. The company is growing, doesn't have much debt and hence isn't dragged down by the sputtering financial system. Usually in recessions, the economy drags down the financials; this time, it's the other way around.

Caterpillar is another case in point. Good numbers. Great global sales story. A real company that sells real machines for money and doesn't merely trade acronymic paper in an incomprehensible marketplace leveraged beyond all reason. Gotta love that.

The point: the broad economy may be better off than bankers (and the journalists who love them) think. Keep you eye on solidly growing companies with strong balance sheets and your portfolio should do just fine in the long run.

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  Friday, 18 Apr 2008 | 8:41 AM ET

Welch's Comments: Accentuating the Negative

Posted By: Allen Wastler

Unfortunately, the numbers went the way I expected on the Jack Welch clarification. His positive comments about GE and its CEO, Jeff Immelt, only got about half the traffic on our Web site as his critical comments the day before.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you can click here for the recap . But the upshot of my point is ... it's the negative that draws attention.

And there was a lot of negativism in the emails I received too.

Some directed at Welch ....

While I lost some money on GE last Friday, my sympathies are for Immelt. Welch should stop blaming the media, at least this time, as murking up the issue. -- Fearless Widow

And some directed at Immelt ...

Jack Welch rewarded us stockholders with 5 stock splits in a row, with growth and prosperity, but what did Jeff Immelt do to deserve these rosy appraisals? -- Peter

And there were plenty of comments about both too salty too share. CEOs aren't too popular these days. But hey, GE is my parent company ... gotta show a least a little diplomacy, right?

Questions? Comments? We want to hear from you: allen.wastler@cnbc.com

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  Thursday, 17 Apr 2008 | 9:58 AM ET

Welch's Comments and Trash Talk Reverb

Posted By: Allen Wastler

One sad fact of the news business is that people pay more attention when someone is getting trashed rather than praised.

Take the Jack Welch comments yesterday. The GE Legend came on our air Wednesday and said some pretty tough things about current GE Chief Jeff Immelt's situation; things like Immelt got his "ass-kicked" and that he had a "credibility problem."

Now if you look at his comments in the context of his conversation with the "Squawk Box " gang, it's pretty obvious that Welch wasn't intending his comments so much as pointed criticism but as sympathetic observation ... sort of like when your favorite quarterback can't quite pull off a certain two-minute drill.

Nonetheless, the business media grabbed hold of Welch's comments as a condemnation of the current GE strategy. (BTW, GE is our parent).

Welch tried to clarify where he stands on Immelt and GE Wednesday morning, saying he thinks the GE strategy is right on and Immelt is a "helluva CEO." But I'm afraid that message won't go as far as yesterday's critique. As Joe Kernan pointed out during the show, we live in a sound-bite world.

Welch's Wednesday comments, in video and text form, were one of our Number One draws in site traffic yesterday. The early numbers today tell me that Welch's Thursday clarification won't do as well.

They say nice guys finish last. Apparently nice words don't do so well either.

Questions? Comments? We want to hear from you: allen.wastler@cnbc.com

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  Wednesday, 16 Apr 2008 | 8:11 AM ET

Welcome Mac Users!

Posted By: Allen Wastler

Hey, have you noticed? Our video is brushed up. Quicker, sharper ... which, combined with our sheer volume and breaking news acumen is, well, a good thing. Okay, okay ... it's not the Second Coming of the video iPod, but around here we're a little proud.

And speaking of iPods, this brush up does a pretty important thing: It allows our videos to work on a Mac . That didn't always happen before. (Yes, an admitted fault).

Going forward, this should be great for you, our readers. We post anywhere from 100 to 150 video clips a day. All the analyst takes and CEO explanations that you see on CNBC TV can be found on our site, day in and day out. Through the night too, since we feature coverage from our Asia and Europe networks. Plus we have original video segments crafted just for our Web audience (Have you checked out Fast Money's Web Extra ? My favorite, these days).

We hope you enjoy.

(BTW ... We've gotten some good suggestions on a name for this blog . But still want to get a few more).

Questions? Comments? We want to hear from you: Allen.wastler@cnbc.com

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  Tuesday, 15 Apr 2008 | 11:26 AM ET

Kids don't Pay their Dues?

Posted By: Allen Wastler

Hey, if you are a CNBC reader you must be familiar with the work of Charlie Gasparino . He's broken great stories for us on Bear Stearns , Citigroup , Merrill Lynch ... well, pretty much the whole Wall Street pack.

Charlie is a true triple threat because he works on TV, the Web and in print. If you want a peek into his view of things, check out this great interview on Talking Biz News (a blog I visit pretty often ... great way to keep up on doings in the business journalism sector).

He details a lot about the ins and outs of reporting on Wall Street. That's interesting enough.

But I thought he also had a great observation about where some of our journalism, or at least business "buzz," is coming from these days ... from kids who want to get straight to the Big Time without paying dues and learning lessons at small papers and trade journals. The Internet opens the door for them to try shortcuts.

Of course, it's easy for me to agree with Charlie's view, since he and I -- besides working together -- also are pretty much in the same demographic chunk. You always want to think that the up-and-comers in your business have it easier than you did. So maybe an early-20-something would disagree?

Questions? Comments? We want to hear from you: Allenwastler@cnbc.com

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  Friday, 11 Apr 2008 | 12:05 PM ET

We Need Your Help (and Suggestions)

Posted By: Allen Wastler

(Psst ... Executive summary: You can just jump to the end of this overly-earnest post and send me a blog name).

How can any journalist ignore their audience?

Believe it or not, many do. Usually those J-types have two basic outlooks: "I'm interested in it, so everyone else will be too!" and "I am a better judge of what's important than readers are."

God bless self-importance.

One reason I love Internet journalism is that I have the opportunity, thanks to a bunch of gizmoids, to see immediately what people are interested in and reading. Instant ratings ... as opposed to the days and weeks that TV and newspapers need to figure out how many people paid attention (and those numbers are very iffy). My instant ratings give me an indication about how well we're serving our customer ... that'd be you. Now you can argue about how much attention we should pay to those numbers ... but ignore them? Never.

Ignoring direct communication from readers is another big no-no. And, yes, I know a lot of journalist types who do that too.

Feedback is what a large part of what the Internet is about. Which is my long-winded way of introducing this blog to you. It's an opportunity for us to have a discussion. I'll tell you what's going on with the site. You can tell me whether you like it or not. And why. My counterpart on the TV side of the operation, Tyler Mathisen , will weigh in from time to time as well.

Will every email get answered? No. But we'll make an honest attempt to listen and respond in some way or another. Unless you are rude. (I hate that).

So here it is. Let's talk.

Oh yeah ... first thing. A name for this blog. There's some sort of Internet imperative that blogs have to have edgy, maybe cute, names. We can't think of one. The ones we thought of, frankly, were lame. "Inside CNBC" sounds PR generated, "CNBC and You" sounds like a hug-fest and "Sound Off" sounds off. Got any suggestions? If you come up with a good one, maybe we'll send you a tchotchke or something.

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  Friday, 7 Mar 2008 | 4:44 PM ET

Your Morning Market Weather Report

Posted By: Allen Wastler

Weather reports are useful. We here at CNBC.com have one for you: Our premarkets page ... it's a weather report for the market day. It has all the morning indicators to let you know how the day, money-wise, is likely to go.

The central element is the futures and fair value box. Those of you who are "Squawk Box" junkies probably know all about these. But if you don't ...

Most things that are traded in financial markets have a "futures" contract ... essentially a bet on where the price of that commodity or stock will be at a certain point in the future. If the price of such contracts are moving up, then traders believe the value of the underlying item is going to go up in the future. And the if the contract price is going down, well then, the underlying item is going to get cheaper (or so the market thinks).

Now even indexes like the S&P, the Nasdaq and Dow have these kind of futures contracts tied to them. Traders use these contracts to protect themselves from major market shifts. But the movements of these contracts can offer anybody a kind of weather vane for which way the market is likely to move. If S&P futures contracts are moving higher, for example, then the market generally thinks the S&P index is going to move higher -- the higher the number, the stronger the move. And vice versa.

Fair value is an added twist. The basket of stocks that underlies an index has a cost and a benefit associated with it. The cost boils down to the fees to buy and hold the stocks (versus just leaving your stock buying money in the bank). The benefit would be all the dividends you could receive from that collection of stocks. The effect of these costs and benefits generally isn't immediately reflected in a stock index. These calculations come after the fact. So the end-level of an index is often different from where it would have ended had the interest and dividend effects been added in -- the "fair value" of the index. (When the index level and its fair value are widely different, arbitrageurs tend to pile in looking to profit from the difference).

So futures give you an idea which way the market is headed. Fair value tells you where the start line really is. Our premarkets page gives you that information and does some of the math for you.

But that's not the only thing you need to gauge the market in the morning. Stock action in Asia rolls on to Europe which in turn rolls on to the Americas and then back across the Pacific again. Our premarket page lets you peek at what's going on overseas and some of the U.S. stocks seeing some significant gains or losses. (We use the Xetra exchange for that for technical and cost reasons).

Overnight commodity and currency movements are also important for gauging the market day ... a rush to gold may mean renewed inflation worries will hit stocks, for example. A drop in the value of the dollar may mean exporters could get a lift. You'll find all this information laid out with the futures ... eliminating the need to hunt and peck through the site (feel free to do that, though, if you prefer).

We've also included Treasury quotes in case readers need a reminder about where the debt market stands.

Lastly, but certainly not minimally, we've included volatility indicators. These numbers (the VIX and VXN) are based on options trades. The higher the numbers, the more the market is worrying about sudden market swings.

These are the numbers Wall Street pros look at to tell them whether or not they'll likely need an umbrella for their portfolios on any given day. We hope you'll find them handy and helpful too ... all on one page .

Questions? Comments? We want to hear from you: youropinion@cnbc.com

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About Two-Way Street With Allen Wastler

  • What’s happening at CNBC.com? Two Way Street is the place to find out. Managing Editor Allen Wastler writes about the latest goings on - technical and editorial - at the Web site and at the Network. He also answers your questions (well, some of them – just don’t ask about the cigar: a man needs a little mystery and at least one vice) and points out some of the media issues hanging in the headlines.