While the entire banking industry either devours itself or begs Uncle Sam for a roll of $20s and a place to crash, there's an important little story that could get very big. In the midst of the massive market free fall, Morgan Stanley may be selling about half of its assets to China's CIC. For those of you keeping score, yes, this is China beginning to check us on our massive debt. Who said the fun had to stop once the Olympics ended.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will need to have some reassuring answers when he testifies three times on Capitol Hill next week. Good 'ol Congress - if there's one thing the people are crying for, it's a more compelling C-SPAN schedule to sooth our economic fears. More substantially, Dems might seize this moment to push through some quick economic reform packages.
We gotta point out the obvious: There's electoral politics and then there's real life. Around the world, we're seeing central bankers and other titans of the financial system, people who don't offer what they can see from their house as part of their credentials, pulling together to find a way out of a mind-bogglingly complex international economic meltdown. Thank goodness they have a LOT of experience and a good education, right? Even Nigeria joined the carnival of central banks working together to make sure the money keeps flowing. Results right now and into next week.
Elsewhere on the international front, Israel may soon have its first female prime minister since Golda Meir. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni captured the Kadima Party's nomination for the post and has over a month to successfully cobble together a governing coalition in the parliament. Her defeat of hawks within her party may signify a changing of the guard in Middle Eastern politics, with the possibility of fresh policy coming in the door with a new US president in 2009.
Oh, so NOW Sarah Palin wants to talk foreign policy. Jeez, Guv'nah, just because in the Great White North everyone stuffs their savings in mattresses doesn't mean you should visit the U.N. when Wall Street is just a few blocks south. Priorities, people!
Attention all flacks. Ad spending this fall could be severely impacted, thanks to our economic woes. What does it mean for you? Find creative and cost-effective ways to get your message out. Could this mean a whole new wave of embracing cheap and easy Web 2.0 capabilities? Hah, we jumped on that train long ago. Welcome to this century.
George Allen will be a headliner tomorrow at a GOP "unity" rally at Edison High School to reach out to minorities in Virginia. Um--wow. If you're around and have a video camera, please go and capture any new bon mots from the Macaca Man and report back to us.
The Week That Was
As Nate Silver astutely pointed out, Obama's language on the economic downturn has reminded people of the issues that hit them the hardest. Now that the post-convention-bubble has burst, McCain once again finds himself in the back seat as the first presidential debate looms on the horizon. McCain needs to shift his strategy away from blaming straw men and nameless faces on Wall Street and start pumping in some substance. People don't want revenge, they want answers.
Has any one seen the President lately? Guy with big ears and a really loud helicopter? Well, if you're a reporter, we'll wager the answer is no. The White House has been taking cues from the McCain campaign: limited media exposure for Bush's last months in office. Granted, this final act isn't exactly the last third of a Shakespearian tragedy, but last-minute decisions from a dying administration are always dangerous. TR Central wants everyone to keep an eye out for small executive orders that could snowball later on.
While no one was looking this week, two soldiers stationed in Iraq were murdered by a third, who is now in custody. Normally this news would be absolutely devastating, but the Army's muzzle on this case has proven to be unusually strong. So what else aren't we being told about conditions on the ground?
Hackers broke into Governor Palin's private Yahoo! account, spreading the contents of "top secret" e-mail across the blogosphere (and while we normally respect the complexity of hackers' skills, this one really wasn't that difficult). Jeez, hasn't anyone learned anything from Gonzogate? Now the AP is resisting Secret Service requests to hand over some of the e-mails in a misplaced display of journalistic integrity. Of course, if Palin had her way, such integrity would be taking the place of polar bears on the endangered species list.
Alana Taylor, an enterprising NYU journalism student, was caught critiquing, for PBS's MediaShift blog, the decidedly old media course she's taking. Course instructor Mary Quigley responded by putting a moratorium on blogging and Twittering about the class. One would think that anyone teaching a course called "Reporting Gen Y" would know that in the Digital Age information will break free.
Finally, the Culture Minister's pop-culture news roundup: Joining Tupac, Mozart has a new single out; the world's oldest man is 113 and says the key to longevity is sobriety (tell all your friends that at happy hour tonight, 'kay?); MTV's iconic Total Request Live is dead; and Fat Joe challenged Daddy Yankee to a political debate on MTV Tr3s, who, um, can't pencil it in. We would have LOVED to see that last one!
We were right! We were right! The new ads on high-fructose corn syrup have stoked some serious heat in blogger and foodie circles. But (sigh) we were wrong as well. Jerry Seinfeld's TV spots with Bill Gates have been dropped by Microsoft after they failed to capture the public's imagination. Would Apple have countered them by hiring Larry David to do their ads? Oh well, we can still dream.