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The Biz Roundup April 14

I hadn’t really thought of lickable newspapers before, but will that save The Boston Globe?

Just as retailers stuff American newspapers with coupons and sales promotions, the idea is to get food and drink companies to attach a sealed pouch, containing a flavour sample, to front-page newspaper advertisements for their products. Consumers can then take them for a “taste drive”, puns Mr Minkoff. First Flavor has already run magazine-based campaigns, so edible ads in newspapers are an obvious next step.

(“Trading licks,” The Economist, April 8) Now, I know this is old news, but, in my experience, events don’t move at Internet speed in the realm of tasty newspapers and magazines. Now, if only The Boston Globe could do an Irish Coffee or 20-year Scotch flavored edition, all the problems with selling newspapers would magically vanish.

These were the guys, after all, who dumped all their subprime mortgage CDO’s right before the crash — after loading everyone else up with CDO’s.

Goldman’s earnings were helped by a record $6.5bn in revenues in fixed income, commodities and currencies (FICC) activities. It made money taking advantage of the wide difference between buying and selling prices in those markets.

“The environment in the first quarter was such that, you know, there were so many opportunities in truly liquid assets that there was no need to use liquidity to buy illiquid assets and there weren’t a lot of good illiquid assets for sale,” Mr Viniar said, adding that strong liquidity made sense “from a defensive and offensive point of view”.

He acknowledged the liquidity position was a drag on earnings and return-on-equity ratios but said in the current environment “prudence is the better path”. He warned that his firm’s record- setting FICC performance would be hard to repeat. But he noted overall activity in the capital markets was gaining momentum, pointing to two dozen equity offerings last week.

(“Goldman amasses $164bn in liquid assets,” Financial Times, April 14) A large part of the bonuses these bums get are from return on equity. Amassing big piles of liquid assets is like taking a shotgun to their bonuses, but it looks like Goldman is running away with the gold ring. Now, Ken Lewis would like to rule every bank branch and ATM in the world, but it looks like someone else is in a better position to win the race to world domination.

In a last, desperate effort to save the news business, executives get the unfathomably bright idea of asking for money.

Their company, Journalism Online Inc., aims to supply publishers with ready-made tools to charge Internet fees, an idea that has gained sudden currency as advertising revenue plummets, but whose prospects of success are doubted by many media analysts. The company, which says it may have a product ready by the fall, says the advantages it offers are that publishers would not have to develop their own systems, and readers could use a single system for many different publications.

(“Media Executives Plan Online Service to Charge for Content ,” New York Times, April 14) You’ve heard it here first, folks: when hell freezes over.

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