Wednesday, July 2, 2008

CEO Confidence Continues to Plunge

CEO Confidence Continues to Plunge

Chief Executive Magazine says its latest survey of CEOs shows ongoing lack of faith in the economy. Hurray for that. Pore over the numbers at your leisure. Hear is my take on the bleak season: We were too optimistic for too long.

Each time the economy enjoys a period of growth, businesses and consumers alike get ahead of themselves. The housing market collapse is the latest example of overextending our wallets.

Let's look at consumer electronics, a very harsh market for retailers and manufacturers. Profit margins are narrow and competition is fierce. I have seen local consumer electronics sellers and big chains including Sharper Image and Compusa wither away.

Everyone likes gadgets, right? The problem is the price scale onsuch goods as smartphones, flat panel TVs and Blu-ray players. The cost of developing these advanced products is tremendous. Device makers need a steady stream of early adopters to help pay down the expenses incured during development. Sony is taking a huge loss on PlayStation 3 for this very reason.

I attended the US debut of the first Blu-ray player in 2006 at the Samsung Experience product showroom at Columbus Circle in Manhattan. Samsung put on a fine show complete with sapphire-tinted "Blu-ray" martinis.

My first taste of how sexy movies can look in high definition tempted me to invest in a flat panel TV and a Blu-ray player to match. But the reality of pricing sobered me fast and stopped me from such foolishness.

If you can comfortably afford such toys, bravo. You are just what the market needs. Go forth, spend your disposable income and get the economy going again. Meanwhile, the general public is waking up the hard way to what is and is not reasonable. How can you justify buying a plasma screen television when you are struggling to fill your gas tank or pay a mortgage?

One day the market will stabilize and we shall all breathe easier. But let's remember to be a little more pessimistic about our finances in the future.

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Flame and Bone

When I was made from fire
Poured into the tender vessel of caution
That keeps my smoke from rising
Quickly did I discover that apart from crisp drizzles or falling snow
The world chilled my touched
Walking the narrow cornered gap between girders and cut stone
One learns to tuck his shoulders in or risk
Jostling a neighbor passing by rapt with want
For a clear path without the distraction
Of another man's boiling eyes
The tip of a finger
That oldest of all weapons
Grown deadlier and pristine in its invention
Gathers a mote of a cinder on its bare flesh
And turns pondering how best to scratch the impious itch
Prying open the tender seam
Where the oil of thought dews
Offering a new wick to ignite
Squirming alive as a salamander of mischief
That yearns for a taste of air it is so ready to devour
The steam of breath betrays me
Before the glint of orange spreads
In popping bright waves
Eroding the fibers feeding it
Leaving naught but ash
As my shell of quietude falls away