business news in context, analysis with attitude

In commentary yesterday about the InBev bid to acquire Anheuser-Busch, I bemoaned the notion that such an American icon could be acquired by a foreign company, and wondered how come US firms aren’t out there buying foreign icons.

Got a lot of responses to that one.

One MNB user wrote:

It’s a result of the weak dollar, along with a number of our other current economic woes.

Another MNB user elaborated:

Our country is already selling “American Icons” to foreign countries. NY infamous Flat Iron Building was sold to the Italians. The Chrysler Building is next…. If Americans don’t stand up for what is ours and if this countries economy does not straighten up, American owned icons and businesses will become a rarity. The most important thing for us to do right now is to become less dependent on foreign oil. We have our own!

Americans need to realize that they as consumers eventually bear the entire brunt of all costs – (duh! Rising costs of food, fuel, goods, services….. ). Without tapping into our own resources, we are allowing our country to decline and be consumed by foreigners.


It isn’t just oil, in my view. It also is developing alternative energy sources. Because oil is, by its very nature, a finite resource.

MNB user Bob Warzecha wrote:

You probably forgot the hullabaloo the arose last year when PepsiCo launched overtures to acquire Groupe Danone. The French government quickly declared that no one but another French company would be allowed to merge with their "cultural icon". The politicians began to launch talks into legislation that would not only prohibit this foreign acquisition but also to not allow Pepsi products to be sold in France. It started to pick up so much steam that PepsiCo quietly went away.

Do you think that this would ever happen here in the U.S.?


MNB user Bob Wheaton wrote:

Well, first of all let's start with the cheap dollar. "America is having a 25 % off sale" based on the Euro/Dollar valuation. History lesson: Late 80's/90's same thing only then it was the Japanese yen. (Pebble Beach, Rockefeller Center, etc) Quoting a great mind from years ago...."it's the economy, stupid."....but you knew all of this already because you're not stupid.

MNB user Ray Hrovat wrote:

Perhaps you don't remember American Malcolm Glazer (who also owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) purchasing the UK's Manchester United soccer team in 2005. I know you're not a soccer fan. Neither am I, but even I know that ManU is an icon. Maybe this will make you more optimistic about the US's place in the world?

Gonna need more than that, I’m afraid.




The economy – and concerns about the future – also was the subject of yesterday’s MNB Radio rant…and led one MNB user to respond:

The current economic climate is cyclical just like weather. Remember 2008 is an election year which brings uncertainty to the economy. Also, keep in mind the Democrat-controlled Congress and the Federal Reserve have the power to set monetary and fiscal policy. However, they want the electorate to believe the economy is in the tanks throughout the remaining campaign season in order to place blame at the White House door. It’s too bad the electorate doesn’t realize the economy would react quicker if the marketplace was allowed to manage its own supply and demand, including the energy and mortgage industries. Once the elections are over, the economy will rebound.

Y’think? I’m not so sure. I think a year from now we’ll be paying $8 a gallon for gas (if we’re lucky), and that discontent among the electorate will be at an all-time high.




On another subject, MNB user Phil Censky wrote:

Yesterday I was listening to the Marketplace (American Public Media) report on poor performance of Gap stores. They pointed to over-saturation of the brand because of their 31,000 stores (under various banners). What struck me is their guidance for a turnaround: they want to be the Trader Joe's of clothing. Only a company that has a clearly-defined, targeted strategy can be aspirational across industries. The question other food retail execs have to ask is "What is aspirational or compelling about our model?" because it's only compelling to other businesses if it resonates with consumers.




And MNB user Lisa Pawlik had these thoughts about an email posted here yesterday:

I was struck by this comment

All in all what this means is what the hell do we need approximately 199,698 varieties of tomatoes for?

We need a wide variety of species and not a monoculture in order to protect the food supply. If you take nothing else away from Darwin it should be that diversification of the species helps to ensure their survival. Monocultures can lead to things like the Irish Potato blight, coffee rust, corn leaf blight, etc., etc.

I just get my hackles up when I see the promotion of a single species that’s supposed to be “the perfect (fill in the blank)”. It just means we’re doomed and it will soon be a tasteless specimen of that species.





And MNB user David Carlson wrote:

I was surprised to see your comments on the story New York and California bills which would require nutrition information on restaurant menus. What has happened to our Champion of Transparency? When the regulations were aimed at fast food, haven't you always come down in favor of more information?

Specifically, on 10/26/07 you said:

"I’m not nuts about government turning into a big nanny, but I’m not sue that this is the case here. This is about transparency and truth in advertising…and companies that want to sell enormous 900-calorie burgers ought to be compelled to put that information in boldface."

Why should it be any different for Emeril's gumbo and banana cream pie?


Oh, sure…throw my own words back at me. Expect me to be consistent. Like that’s fair…

I could argue, I suppose, that a four-star restaurant is in fact different from a fast food joint. And I could argue that I do want these restaurants to be transparent, but that consumers ought to have a choice about reading the information…but that would be inconsistent with my position on fast feeders.

So I’m going to have to think about this one. Because it feels different, even if I’m having trouble rationalizing why it is.

I hate it when that happens.

KC's View: