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The Biz Roundup January 14

Yet another plot twist in Apple’s “Weekend at Bernies.”

Steve Jobs announced in an e-mail to Apple employees today that he is going on medical leave through June because his health problems are “more complex than I originally thought.” Last week, Jobs announced he was suffering from a hormone imbalance that caused him to drastically lose weight. Apple Chief Operating Office Tim Cook will take over the company’s day-to-day operations, Jobs said in his e-mail.

(“Apple’s Steve Jobs takes medical leave of absence,” San Jose Mercury News, January 14) And “complex” means what exactly? “Sources” say it’s not cancer, but his body is not absorbing food. I don’t know about you, but that sounds scarier than cancer. On the serious side, our thoughts and prayers to out to Mr. Jobs and his family. But when will Apple let this farce end and prove to the world that it really is the company, not the CEO, that can innovate and open up new markets? When you have a spare minute, guys, read the book “Good To Great.”Here’s the text of the email Jobs sent to employees today.

Does that mean BofA will cut me a break on those highway robbery fees they charge my account every time I blow my nose or wiggle my toes?

The U.S. government has agreed to commit billions in additional aid to Bank of America Corp. to help the nation’s largest bank by assets close its acquisition of Merrill Lynch & Co., according to people familiar with the situation.

Discussions over these funds began in mid-December when Bank of America approached the Treasury Department. The bank, already the recipient of $25 billion in committed federal rescue funds, said that it was unlikely to complete its purchase of the ailing Wall Street securities firm because of Merrill’s larger-than-expected losses in the fourth quarter . . .

(“Bank of America to Get Billions in U.S. Aid.” Wall Street Journal, January 14) Can’t we just pay this bailout bill once and for all and be done with it? Why does the “free” market keep costing us so much?

The Chinese do it right.

Sales tax on vehicles with engines of less than 1.6 liters will be halved and exchange of old vehicles for new ones with smaller engines subsidized to boost the auto industry.

The stimulus package for the country’s auto industry, the third largest in the world, was announced by the State Council Wednesday after its sales growth fell to a 10-year-low of 6.7 percent last year.

The package is expected to boost the steel industry and designed to promote fuel-efficient and low-emission vehicles, too.

“In order to adjust and revive the auto sector, we must implement a proactive consumption policy to stabilize and boost auto demand,” the State Council said

(“Auto sector gets a shot in the arm.” China Daily, January 15) So the Chinese decide to give the money to consumers, not to the auto companies, to get consumers to buy. The bailout money we gave the auto companies here in the U.S. is just going to go to the debtholders, just like much of the bank bailout money. Do you now have any questions as to why Chinese automakers like BYD believe they’re going to become the number one automaker in the U.S. and Europe by 2025, when GM and Chrysler will be ancient history?

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