U.S. stocks getting hammered: Crisis and uncertainty are two words Wall Street never likes to hear. But at least the immediate radiation threat at the Japanese nuclear plant appears to be subsiding. The Dow is down 200 points in early trading.
Stocks plunge in Japan: For all the obvious reasons, the Nikkei index tumbled more than 10 percent on Tuesday, on top of a 6 percent loss on Monday. Other Asian markets were also down. (NYT)
Supply shortages a problem: The spot market is taking off for semiconductor chips - the kind that are used for smartphones, digital cameras, etc. From the NYT:
Factory closures are already creating problems in the tech industry. Toshiba, which produces roughly a third of the world's chips used to store data in cameras, smartphones and tablet computers, said on Monday that it had closed some factories and that its production would be affected. The daily spot market for those chips rose 10 to 27 percent, said Jim Handy, founder of Objective Analysis, a semiconductor manufacturing research firm in Silicon Valley, who has been tracking these prices.
Oil futures plunge: Crude is trading in NY at a shade under $97 a barrel, down about $4. The thinking is that Japan's economy will slow sharply, leading to lower demand. (WSJ)
Brown budget talks hit wall: Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters paints a bleak picture about the prospects for cutting a deal. So now what?
It's still possible Brown and the GOP senators could do a deal that wouldn't lose Democratic votes, but the calendar is a factor. Were the tax election after June 30, for instance, advocates could no longer call them "extensions" and would have to acknowledge, which they are loath to do, that they are increases. And what if there is no deal? Does Brown have a Plan B? He and Democrats may try to bypass Republicans and place some tax increases on the ballot with simple-majority legislative votes. It's a legally problematic tactic, but one that might put pressure on Republicans.
Report alleges Calpers corruption: The former CEO of California's biggest public pension fund is accused of pressuring subordinates to invest billions of dollars with politically connected firms. From the LAT:
The findings of insider dealings at CalPERS could provide fresh ammunition to Republican lawmakers here who want Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown to convert traditional pensions with guaranteed payments for life into 401(k)-type plans that rely heavily on employees' own contributions. "Fixing California's pension problem is difficult enough without the stench of corruption and collusion that saps public confidence and gives taxpayers a reason to withhold support," said Dan Pellissier, president of Californians for Pension Reform, a group that is pushing a 2012 ballot initiative that would diminish state employee pension benefits.
Haim Saban takes charge of Univision: The L.A. billionaire will serve as interim CEO of the Spanish-language giant after the unexpected resignation of Joe Uva. TV executive Randy Falco is considered a strong candidate for CEO. From the FT:
Mr Uva, 55, was brought in four years ago from Omnicom's OMD media arm by the investor group that led Univision's $12.3bn buy-out in 2006, overseeing strong audience gains and benefiting from rising advertiser interest in the growing spending power of America's Hispanic population. The private equity group, led by Madison Dearborn, Providence Equity Partners, Texas Pacific Group, Thomas H Lee and Saban Capital, suffered heavy paper losses as markets turned, but has grown more confident of exiting the investment at a profit as Univision's revenues have grown and its relationship with Televisa has stabilised.
Tribune bankruptcy has hurt: Eddy Hartenstein, who is the LAT publisher and Tribune's co-president, says that the cloud of Chapter 11 is hurting the company's ability to keep and attract employees and to forge partnerships. Hartenstein testified during a Tribune bankruptcy hearing. (AP)
Eisner rejoins Diller: Michael has been elected director of Barry's IAC. The two men worked together at Paramount early in their careers. (PR Newswire)
Aflac looking for new spokesduck: The insurer fired comedian Gilbert Gottfried after he made insensitive remarks about the disaster in Japan. Aflac is donating 100 million yen to the International Red Cross for disaster assistance. (DealBook)