Spain’s bond yields quickly rose above 7% today for 10-year sovereign paper. Greece’s acceptance of austerity measures, based on results of the elections, provided no confidence that Spain — in its second recession in five years and unemployment at 25% — can pull itself out of the mud. Experts continue to say that every week Spain has to pay over 6% to finance its debt is a week it moves inexorably toward what could be bailout that would cost into the hundreds of billions of euros. Spain already has been provided with 100 billion euros for its troubled bank sector. Ironically, the markets became even more nervous about Spain then. Money the banks collect will not help close the deficits rolled up by the federal government. The G20 will meet in Mexico this week. Calls for stimulus for Europe’s troubled nations have been ignored so far. The situation in Spain may change that.
Rumors are that Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) will release a tablet PC today. It will run a version of Windows Mobile designed to operate on ARM architecture. Most analysts of the tablet market believe that the product is as likely to fail as the Research In Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM) Playbook and the Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) and Dell (NASDAQ: DELL) efforts. The prevailing wisdom is that Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN) hold too much of the market, and that powerhouse Samsung has the only chance to present a challenge because of the success of its smartphones. The market may have underestimated the resolve of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. He invested billions of dollars to best incumbents Sony (NYSE: SNE) and Nintendo in the game console market. And his chance to get market share for Windows Mobile through an alliance with Nokia (NYSE: NOK) was ruined by the market’s rejection of the new Lumia line of phones. A Microsoft branded tablet may be all Ballmer has left.
Verizon (NYSE: VZ) has launched what it calls that FiOS Quantum Internet. The product runs on its fiber network, which connects millions of homes. Verizon invested $23 billion in this infrastructure as it tries to take market share from large cable companies. Early results are not encouraging. Cable has held its own. The Quantum Internet product may not have many takers. Its upload and download speeds are so fast that almost no one needs them. The highest level of the service offers 300 Mpbs of download speeds and 65 Mpbs of upload. Verizon says the service will allow consumers to download an HD movie in 2.2 minutes. Impressive, but where is the market for that?
Douglas A. McIntyre