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Net Net: Promoting innovation and managing change

Media Moguls Mull Bleak Job Numbers?

Eric Schmidt
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The picture was dismal in Washington Friday, after non-farm payrolls were announced.?

In Sun Valley, Idaho, it wasn’t much different.?

Only 18,000 jobs were added last month—more than a 100,000 less than economists expected; unemployment rose to 9.2 percent. Those numbers hit the news wires just minutes before the media moguls at Allen & Co.’s annual conference were due at breakfast. We caught up with Liberty Media’s John Malone and IAC’s Barry Diller on their way.

Malone: "They should be putting forth a broad global competitiveness plan. They may not be able to achieve it in the short run, but we need to dramatically modify our taxation system. We need to look more like Germany. You know we're going to have a major entitlement burden, we may as well fess up to it, and figure out how to fund it... The markets will ultimately discipline the politicians if they don't do it themselves.

"So I think its really a time for leadership. You know the economy just is showing no resilience right now and we've piled on $5 trillion worth of debt in efforts to stimulate. My fear is what we're really dealing with here is real structural demographic issues that are going to take a long-term perspective and some real cooperation amongst political parties to seriously fix."

Diller: "I'm not pessimistic... We need more time. We were in a big ditch but it takes time. Doesn't make it easy, but it is true."

We’d already been polling the moguls throughout the week for their stance on the economy. Here's where they stood:

Eric Schmidt, Google chairman and former CEO: "We are fundamentally going through the mother of all deleveraging. We had a global collapse in credit markets. And how long does it take? It takes more than a few years to get through that. It takes more than a few years for the prices to reset, markets to clear, banks to recover. In some sense, we're just on schedule. Unfortunately it's caused alot of pain, and I hope it accelerates."

Bobby Kotick, Activision Blizzard CEO: "I'm very concerned about our economy and I think you look at what's happening in Greece and Spain and Italy and Portugal, and those can be catalysts for catastrophic changes in the economy and I'm personally very concerned about that."

Diane von Furstenburg, founder and owner, DvF: "It’s not very fun."


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