business news in context, analysis with attitude

…with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

• The Wall Street Journal this morning reports that the University of Michigan May consumer sentiment index is 98.8, unchanged from the April number. “The sentiment measure had hit 101.4 in March, its highest level in 14 years before easing in April and stabilizing this month,” the story says.

According to the Journal, “A wide partisan split persists in the survey between downbeat Democrats and upbeat Republicans. The overall sentiment index for self-identified Democrats was 81.5 in May, versus 122.2 for self-identified Republicans. Independents were in the middle, clocking in at 97.1 for the month.”

• The New York Times has a story about the last gasps of Toys R Us, which is closing its doors and putting some 30,000 people out of work.

The story notes that a year ago, debt-laden Toys R Us “wanted to refinance about $200 million in debt.”

Now, the Times writes, “a year and a messy bankruptcy later, Toys R Us is expected to pay as much as $348 million for the dozens of bankers, lawyers and consultants that tried to fix its problems. The giant payout, detailed in company documents released on Friday, shows how lucrative corporate bankruptcies can be for professionals, while leaving many workers and creditors with scraps.”

Fox News has a story about how Lidl Germany got in trouble last week with ads promoting vacuum cleaners, a sewing machine, an iron, a cookbook and an espresso machine as perfect Mother’s Day gifts.

Critics labeled the ad “sexist.”

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