Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hurricane Sandy & Wall Street

Hurricane Sandy Closes Wall Street
I can respect the power of nature, and understand that where man has a responsibility for nature, nature's power is often unmatched for man.

Year-after-year we see this in new ways, and Hurricane Sandy (SuperStorm) certainly proves this. All day long, distant from the impacted cities, I find myself in an odd state of anxiety waiting for it to be over, and with a heart that goes out to residents and families of those in the areas of most impact.

Yet, today I've also been struck by the oddity of Wall Street being closed. Sandy's power speaks to me in the way that it freezes financial markets in many ways, not just domestically, but in the world.

It strikes me as odd that there is no better contingency plan for such a situation - that an alternative Wall Street isn't set up more inland in another part of the country, but despite the frozen markets, I've been struck with the way that the business world has moved on.

I understand that appropriately so, earnings reports scheduled for this time have been delayed. Yet, perhaps less appropriately, companies who regular experience stock fluctuations with big announcements have pressed forward with big announcements.

Apple's iOS software chief is fired, and while Google cancels New York events, it still announced new products.

Or how about the joint-venture announcement of Random House (privately owned by Bertelsmann), and Penguin (owned by Person PLC, traded under PSO on the New York Stock Exchange)? Is it appropriate for such large announcements to be released when investors do not have the opportunity to respond?

Or Swiss Bank UBS (NYSE: UBS) announces massive layoffs? Clean Habors (NYSE: CLH) buys Safety-Kleen (private)?

I understand some news is simply going to happen - but it's the announcements, planned and controllable that surprise. Where politicians (in their own political way) cease certain types of campaigning due to the storm, you would think (wrongly so) business might stop as well, specifically when the New York Stock Exchange floor is closed.

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