CEO Daily: Thursday, October 1
I’m not superstitious, but the data is clear: More than a quarter of U.S. stock market drops greater than 10% since 1871 have happened in October – with October 1929 and October 1987 among the most famous.
And here we are again.
The year is already on track to be the worst for markets since the financial crisis. (Remember October 2008, anyone?) And there are other bad portents. China, the engine of emerging markets, is slowing – more statistical evidence of that today. We have a Fed chief who is untested (think Alan Greenspan in 1987), tech markets that still feel frothy, global geopolitics that are shaky, and a U.S. government is slowly careening toward another year-end, self-imposed fiscal crisis (yawn).
The counter, of course, is that the U.S. economy is in solid shape, with no hint of overheating. And it’s worth remembering that the economy continued to grow for several years after the 1987 market debacle.
But economic cycles are real, and markets are telling us this one is entering its autumn. As Carl Icahn said yesterday, “I think the joyride is over.” Prepare yourself.
More news below.
• Why Twitter fired Jack Dorsey
With Jack Dorsey's return to the CEO role at Twitter looking almost certain, Fortune dives deep into why he was pushed out of the company he co-founded in 2006. Lack of communication to investors, a focus on outside hobbies, and frequent party appearances reportedly ruffled feathers at Twitter. Dorsey's management style was so problematic that the social media company's board fired him by 2008, offering him a "passive" chairman role and silent board seat. Still, investors have short memories, as Twitter's stock traded higher on the report. Fortune
• Walmart cutting jobs at headquarters
The world's largest retailer is reportedly cutting up to 500 jobs at the company's headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, a move that comes as Walmart is spending billions to bolster its e-commerce business and on higher wages for store workers. Wal-Mart Stores CEO Doug McMillon last month hinted at the cuts, saying the retailer would cut costs in the back half of the year, even while making investments elsewhere in the business. Fortune
• Street's worst quarter since 2011
Wall Street notched its worst quarterly loss in four years during the third quarter, as investors dumped shares globally because of fears of a slowdown in China and concerns about the uncertainty over the timing of interest rates from the Federal Reserve. For the Standard & Poor's 500 stock index, it was the first 10% correction since 2011. And most recently, the biotech sector is suffering a severe bear market over the span of just eight days. USA Today
• CEO starts tenure with an apology
Newly installed United Continental CEO Oscar Munoz, in his first interview since taking the helm after the abrupt ouster of Jeff Smisek, acknowledged the airline's 2010 merger has been poorly managed. Employees have been “allowed…to be disengaged, disenchanted, disenfranchised—the three nasty D’s,” he told WSJ. “I’ve got to win all [of them] back.” His initial focus has been to meet with United workers as Munoz seeks to win back the trust of the company's 85,000 employees. WSJ (subscription required)
• Hurricane Joaquin strengthens
Hurricane Joaquin, now a Category 3 storm, is threatening to cost the U.S. economy billions as it strengthens and most forecasters are predicting it will eventually reach the East Coast's shores – most likely in the Mid-Atlantic region of the country. The economic impact could include disruption in manufacturing and delayed flights, but if travel and traffic aren't disrupted too much, some companies could benefit. If not as destructive as feared, Home Depot and Lowe's would likely be the biggest winners. Fortune
• Microsoft-Google battle cools
Two of the largest tech companies in the U.S. have agreed to bury their patent infringement litigation against each other here in the states and in Germany, settling 18 cases in total. The deal puts an end to court fights involving several key technologies, including mobile phones, wifi, and patents used in Microsoft's Xbox game consoles. Financial terms weren't disclosed. Reuters
Around the Water Cooler
• Blankfein's deputy has come a long way
Gary Cohn, second-in-command at Goldman Sachs, has evolved to become one of Wall Street's most visible executives and is also close friends with Lloyd Blankfein – who recently disclosed he had a curable form of lymphoma. Blankfein isn't stepping down soon, though a profile piece on Cohn looks at the unique relationship between the top executives at Goldman. WSJ says the duo have the closest CEO-deputy relationship since J.P. Morgan Chase CEO James Dimon was Sanford Weill's understudy at Citigroup. WSJ (subscription required)
• Why Cisco's CEO loves partnerships
John Chambers, CEO at Cisco, lauded partnerships as a "big way" to change the industry – because he believes that no one technology vendor can handle all of its customers' needs. Chambers on Wednesday spent some time discussing a recent pact with Apple, a significant move for both as they will form joint engineering teams and create new products together. While it hasn't been revealed what they'll be making, Cisco can bolster the company's work collaboration business while Apple needs help getting meetings with corporate IT departments to sell iPads and iPhones to businesses. Fortune