What’s Important in the Financial World (11/30/2011) Zynga IPO, IMF to Save Italy

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Europe may only have a week to rescue itself from financial disaster. The borrowing costs of Italy and Spain have been unsustainably high for too long. The stability fund established to back the debt of the region’s weakest nations has not been deployed and may not be for some time. The region has talked about turning to the IMF, but the agency’s participation is in no way guaranteed. There is a question of how long it will be before capital market investors completely give up on the sovereign paper of Spain and Italy. If it happens before mid-December, there may be no safety net to capture the fallout of a huge default.

India’s GDP growth dropped below 7% last quarter. That is lower than expected, which may prompt the government to reset its expectations of the speed of expansion next year. The silver lining to the news is that inflation rates may drop. Increases in commodities costs have eroded the buying power of both businesses and individuals. A slowdown in GDP growth does have negative consequences. The second largest nation in the world by population has a significant need to build an infrastructure and banking system similar to those in the developed world. Otherwise the direction of its growth will be unruly. India does not have a system like China’s, where national investment and the banking system are centrally controlled by the government.

Cyber Monday sales reached the highest level of any day in history. Research firm Comscore pegs the figure at $1.25 billion. That keeps e-commerce expenditures on a pace to be up 15% compared to the November and December 2010. Whether bricks-and-mortar revenue can expand at something above the low double digits still will be the key to holiday retail success or failure. E-commerce sales are now a large portion of overall holiday revenue. But, at large retailers such as Walmart (NYSE: WMT), they are only about 5% of sales. Walmart’s store sales could be weak enough to make e-commerce activity an afterthought.

Online social game company Zynga will start its IPO road show next week. Interest may be buoyed by word that Facebook plans a $10 billion public offering next spring. That could cause a surge in interest in any company associated with the social network business. However, recent tech IPOs may make Wall St. look at Zynga with great caution. The value of LinkedIn (NYSE: LNKD) has fallen precipitously. Shares in Groupon (NASDAQ: GRPN) are off by more than half since its IPO. A further sell-off in the shares of these firms, coupled with a weak stock market, may drive Zynga out of the IPO market for now.

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