Monday, September 15, 2008

Monday, Monday

The stock market swooned Monday, plummeting more than 500 points due to the crumbling of Wall Street titans -- now midgets -- Lehman Bros. and Merrill Lynch.

The thundering herd heading for the exit was heard around the world as investors tried to limit their losses. And you might be wondering, what does this have to do with me? Plenty, buddy.

For starters, newspaper stocks were not exempt from the stampede. Gannett fell nearly 7 percent. Media General slid 20 percent, and is now trading at under $10 a share. The New York Times took a hit, falling 11.5 percent. And McClatchy also slumped 7 percent, closing at $3.38 a share. Talk about a come down.

The credit markets -- read money lenders -- are not in a giving mood. That's a reason Lehman entered bankruptcy and why Merrill Lynch rushed into the arms of Bank of America. Nobody would lend it money to keep going. An interesting side note to BofA: The bank flourished during the Depression by buying up the assets of companies and people in a world of hurt. It certainly seems as if BofA is poised to do the same in this go-round. Merrill Lynch is its second acquisition, after mortgage lender Countrywide.

Few, if any,lenders will be forking over cash to companies seeking to get into or conclude merger or buyout deals. That includes McClatchy, who is rumored to be considering going private. Unless McClatchy has all the cash on hand to buy its outstanding stock -- and that's possible considering the stock's bargain-basement price -- nobody is going to lend a newspaper money. A newspaper?!

Nobody is going to lend money to Tribune, for instance, to remain a going concern either. Nobody is going to lend a company money to buy the Daytona Beach News-Journal. I'm sure Carlos Slim is saying he could have bought his stake in the NY Times for 12.5 percent less, if he had only waited.

In addition, if you are on the prowl for money to upgrade or expand your home, buy a home, purchase a car or make any kind of major purchase, the money is drying up for you, too. Whatever money you have in your 401K also is rapidly shrinking.

We are taking a major drubbing. And it's only Monday.

No comments: