"Talking Squawk," the official blog of "Squawk Box," is all over the buzz stories of the week from the U.S. boss who had been held hostage by his Chinese workers to the Fed upending the market like a desperate housewife. Grab a cup of coffee because we've got a lot to Squawk about.
Hostage Executive Freed
The American businessman who had been held by his Chinese workers over a pay dispute is back on U.S. soil. Chip Starnes, president of Florida-based Specialty Medical Supplies, was freed following six days in captivity after cutting a deal with the union employees at his factory outside Beijing.
"There is a dirty underside to doing business in China, there's no doubt about that and I don't think that's a secret either," Starnes said in an exclusive interview at Newark airport Thursday with CNBC. Still, he said, "Going back to China is a must." Oh, and after a few hours sleep, he's going to be in the office bright and early. (story and video)
On Friday morning, he was back home in Florida and live on Squawk. He said he'd advise new investors not to do business in China. He cited currency issues, a shrinking labor force and rising wages there as fundamental reasons for caution. (story and video)
This story has all the elements of a Hollywood movie: An American CEO doing business in a foreign country, held against his will for days, feeling like a "an animal in a zoo," while mobs of angry workers make demands. And he had the magic words for Hollywood: He's definitely going back.
The Billionaire Baron
He's one of the best (and richest) investors we know. He also doesn't make many media appearances (another reason we like him)! So when Ron Baron appears on "Squawk Box," it almost always packs a punch.
We caught up with him on Friday from his beach "house" (er, "palace") in the Hamptons. The buy-and-hold billionaire told CNBC that former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said at a dinner he recently attended that the Federal Reserve's bond-buying exit strategy—when it begins—would take about five years. Baron also predicted Dow 30,000 in a decade and Dow 60,000 in 20 years. (story and video)
You can take his comments for what they are worth. However, if we compare good investment ideas to the size of beach houses, then trust us, his beach house is way better than your beach house.
Please Speak Clearly Into the Mic
Lots of Fed heads were doing damage control this week, including New York Fed President Bill Dudley, who defended Ben Bernanke. He said the Fed chairman was clear last week in laying out the conditions for starting a tapering of the central bank's $85-billion-a-month bond purchases. The spike in bond yields has been an overreaction, he added.
Meanwhile, Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota told Squawk this week that the Federal Reserve taper talk is the wrong conversation. He said the Fed needs to do a better job making its true intentions on short-term interest rates known. Of course, this comes from an organization that will sit in a room and debate the meaning of the words "improve" and "strength" for days, so don't hold your breath. (story and video)
Have you locked in that 30-year fixed rate mortgage yet? Tick, tock! Tick, tock! That 3.5 percent rate that jumped to 4 percent is now 4.5 percent because of the spike in bond yields on Fed taper concerns.
But the chief economist of Trulia said home prices should still hold up even if rates continue to rise, at least for a while. Tick, Tock! (story and link)
Report Card Time
The 3rd annual Delivering Alpha Conference hosted by CNBC and Institutional Investor is nearly upon us (shameless plug, go here for tickets to the July 17 event). CNBC's Kate Kelly reports that billionaire hedge fund manager Leon Cooperman hit it out of the park last year with his picks. (video)
Squawk co-hosts Joe Kernen and Becky Quick usually love to play the word jumble in the paper every day after the show. But with Joe on vacation all week and Becky off Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, play was officially suspended. But let's give them some practice words for next week. Here is Joe's: EOOWLLBH. And here is Becky's: DJSROF.
*Answers at the end
Let's Get Physical
Have you ever wondered how Joe keeps his body in such wickedly toned shape? He's like the Man of Steel, Thor, and The Dark Knight all mixed into one super human. Other than clean living, meditation, and a personal life of quiet spiritual prayer, his secret lies in the art of getting physical. Here is his very own ode to Olivia Newton John. (video)
Just because Joe was out all week, that doesn't mean our unsuspecting guests are safe from becoming the target of our control room crew's constant need to entertain themselves. Nariman Behravesh of @IHS will probably never come on the show again after seeing this photo mash-up with Andrew.
Mark Your Calendar (or Set Your DVR)
- Monday: Charles Kantor of Neuberger Berman and Howard Ward of Gamco Investors
- Tuesday: David Darst of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management
- Wednesday: Ralph Schlosstein of Evercore Partners
- Thursday: Markets Closed, July 4th Holiday!
- Friday: Mark Zandi of Moody's Analytics
It's All About Jobs This Coming Week
On Wednesday, we get the ADP Employment Change Report at 8:15 a.m. EDT. And then Friday, it's the BIG one: the June Employment Report at 8:30 a.m. EDT.
"Hell, there are no rules here—we're trying to accomplish something." —Thomas A. Edison
*Joe's jumble practice word answer: EOOWLLBH=blowhole
*Becky's jumble practice word answer: DJSROF=fjords