Gongol.com Archives: July 2009
Brian Gongol

July 22, 2009

Business and Finance How debt has burdened -- and perhaps killed -- much of the major newspaper business
People like to make fun of those who have a pathological aversion to debt. Bill Gates, for instance, has long taken heat for building Microsoft with an institutional bias against debt and a heavy stockpile of cash. But while the conservative-balance-sheet approach is rarely appreciated in good times, it often looks like genius in the bad times. Companies that operate with little or no debt in the good times can use cash to get them through slow or uncertain periods -- and if they require debt, they can arrange for it on comparatively favorable terms. Businesses relying heavily on debt -- as many large newspaper companies started to do with the feeding frenzy of consolidation over the last two decades -- can find themselves in critical condition when times turn downward. Cash positions and freedom from debt make for very comfortable cushions to help strong companies position themselves for even better times when economic cycles turn around. Thus, while General Motors and Chrysler dip in and out of bankruptcy, Toyota doubles down on new advertising, taking brilliant strategic advantage of consumer uncertainty with Detroit.

Humor and Good News "Well, I've sold the paper to the Chinese"
Hilarious Onion spoof has the "publisher" selling his family paper to a Chinese industrial conglomerate. Hand it to the folks at the Onion: When they carry out a joke, they do it right.

Iowa Des Moines needs to say "NO" to red-light cameras

Water News Treating the Missouri River like "just a big ditch"

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