News Blurbs

Israel-Gaza conflict ends in cease-fire
A fragile cease-fire was orchestrated between Israel and Hamas, with Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi taking the lead amidst negotiations. Though Mursi belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood, said to be the political cousin of Palestinian-led Hamas, he has pledged to maintain Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel. Many are already questioning the balance of power, with Egyptian judges and a recently dismissed Secretary General calling for strikes against his self-decreed new executive, judicial and legislative powers. 

A new golden age?
Investors are once again securing their portfolios with the yellow metal, resulting in a 12-year rally, the longest in nine decades. “We see gold as a hedge against the follies of politicians,” said CIO Michael Mullaney of Fiduciary Trust. Gold is expected to continue its bullish streak well into 2013.

HP writes off $8.8 billion
Shares in Hewlett Packard fell 12 percent after its CEO Meg Whitman announced an $8.8 billion write-off on the value of its $11 billion acquisition of small UK-software company Autonomy. It is alleged that Autonomy participated in “serious accounting improprieties” only recently discovered.

No more Twinkies
Hostess Brands, makers of the iconic Twinkie cream-filled cake, is heading towards liquidation. Negotiations between the company and its baker’s union were unable to reach consensus, leaving 18,500 employees out of work. CEO Gregory Rayburn told Bloomberg he considered this a failure, blaming outdated work rules and inefficient cost structures. Sales were upwards of $2 billion for the year. The company was 93 percent unionized.

News Blurbs

Antivirus software pioneer McAfee sought in murder probe
Police are seeking the former security software pioneer John McAfee in a murder probe over his neighbor’s death in Belize. McAfee, who sold his stake in McAfee, Inc. for $100 million and in 2009 was reportedly worth $4 million, was entangled in disputes with his neighbor who was found dead from a gunshot wound. Since his Silicon Valley days McAfee has started various health- and fitness-related companies.

Microsoft’s Sinofsky departs Windows weeks after Forstall departs Apple
Both men were lauded for their abilities to deliver large, complex projects but also criticized for not playing well with others: Sinofsky was "abrasive" and Forstall "never fit into Apple’s culture." Despite both bandied about as potential CEOs of their respective organizations, more interesting is which companies now dare to enlist their expertise.

New Chinese leadership
Xi Jinping replaced Hu Jintao as leader of the Chinese Communist Party after months of political, economic and social challenges. The leadership council was reduced from 9 to 7 for more "efficient" decision-making, and the surprise move also lands Jinping as the powerful Central Military Commission leader which controls China’s armed forces.

Union-led protests in crisis-ridden Europe
Strikes across Spain, Portugal and Greece against government austerity measures resulted in transportation closures and sporadic violence. The large union-led strike denounced further budget cuts recommended by the European Union. While divisive, austerity measures since 2008 have been an attempt to cure economic distress that has seen Spain’s unemployment rate soar to 25%.