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The [Wednesday] Papers

"Sen. Toi Hutchinson, D-Olympia Fields, who sponsored the legislation in the Senate, pointed out that [Sears] would not qualify for state tax breaks unless it met employment and investment requirements," the Tribune reports.

Well, at least there's that.

"The legislation, for instance, requires the retailer to retain 4,250 jobs at its headquarters, now the site for 6,100 workers."

Wait, what?

Toi, I've got a poker game I'd like to invite you to. Bring your buddy Pat, too.


"A Sears Essentials store at 550 Camino de Estrella is turning back into a Kmart," the Orange County Register reports.

"The original Kmart at that location closed about six years ago to make way for Sears Essentials. Now, signs have gone up inside the store, stating that Sears is closing to make way for a Kmart, coming in March. A clearance sale has begun, with signs stating that all merchandise must go.

"Kmart is a subsidiary of Sears."


"A number of institutional investors have liquidated their entire position in Sears shares in the third quarter," Wall St. Cheat Sheet reports. "Chou Associates fund held 397,977 shares on 6/30/11, worth $28.145,717, and reported holding 0 shares on 9/30/11. Similarly, other institutional investors also reported selling out their positions in the third quarter: King Investment Advisors, Inc. held 118,890 shares on 6/30.11, JAT Capital Management held 109,522 shares on 6/30/11, Adage Capital Partners held 65,901 shares on 6/30/11 and Sun Life Financial held 53,818 shares on 6/30/11."


"When Kmart acquired Sears in 2005, Chairman Edward Lampert said the new company would have the geographic reach and scale to compete with Wal-Mart Stores Inc.," Bloomberg News reports.

"The billionaire hedge fund manager has since presided over 18 consecutive quarters of declining sales. He's on his fourth chief executive. While Sears Holdings Corp. shares soared in the first few months after the merger, they've fallen 55 percent in 2011 alone.

"Sears 'has been a mismanaged asset,' Gregory Melich, an analyst at International Strategy & Investment, said in a Bloomberg Television interview yesterday. 'A lot of traditional department stores have reinvigorated themselves through merchandising, through changing their locations; you think of Macy's. You haven't seen that from Sears.'"


Then again, when Lampert bought Sears in 2004, the deal was hailed as "Eddie's Master Stroke."

And BusinessWeek, which did some of the hailing, asked if Lampert was "The Next Warren Buffett?"


Remember when Lampert was kidnapped?

"Sure it has four wheels and runs on gasoline while also featuring some fancy amenities like cup-holders and power steering, but fact is the new Craftsman CTX lawn tractor series ain't the type of motorized vehicle you expect to see at an event like the 2012 North American International Auto Show [NAIAS] in Detroit," Carscoop reports in "Craftsman To Debut Cadillac Of Lawn Mowers; Lutz Not Liking The Idea."

"Nevertheless, Sears Holdings Corp's Craftsman division has somehow convinced the organizers of the Detroit motor show to give them their own booth to debut the new CTX, which is the brand's premium line of lawn tractors with prices ranging from US$3,000 to US$6,500."

[ . . . ]

"However, former General Motors product czar Bob Lutz didn't like the idea of Craftsman gaining access to the show and wasn't afraid to voice his objections:

"'It's an automobile show, stupid, not motorcycles or garden implements. What's next? Plumbing and bathroom fixtures? A Toto-toilet stand? An Art Van furniture stand?'"

Moo Who?
"Who needs an IPO? Mu Sigma Inc., a Northbrook-based analytics startup, raised another $108 million from investors," Crain's reports.


"Mu Sigma helps companies such as Microsoft Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. analyze mountains of data about customers to make decisions about everything from product design and marketing to supply-chain management."

I did not know that.

"The company is profitable and will use the investment to expand its services and create additional products, as well as beef up marketing efforts and strategic alliances, says CEO Dhiraj Rajaram. Already it counts more than 50 of the Fortune 500 among its customers."

If only they could help Sears. Or at least help Pat Quinn and his buddies in Springfield decide which companies are worthy of our hard-earned tax dollars.


Of course, no companies are worthy of our hard-earned tax dollars. I think it was Mussolini who defined fascism as government plus corporate power together, but in any case, I don't find this an appropriate use of taxpayer money. Let the private sector sink or swim. At the same time, I don't find charitable giving by corporations to be appropriate either; that seems to me to be a misuse of shareholder, employee and customer money - at least for public corporations. Let business be business and let government provide the safety net of a civilized society where gaps otherwise exist in needed services - and that includes getting companies (again, at least public corporations; private companies can do whatever they want) - out of the health care business. This all seems to me to be something liberals and conservatives alike could agree on.

Patsy Cake
If Rod Blagojevich's so-called drinking problem was real and "not a ploy," a "source" wishing to be taken seriously wouldn't be leaking the news to Sneed.

And Luol Deng Shall Lead Them!
In Fantasy Fix.

Gang Bang
Chicago Anthem.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Crafted.


Posted on December 28, 2011

MUSIC - Madonna vs. Moderna.
TV - Sundays With The Military-Industrial Complex.
POLITICS - Private Equity In The ER.
SPORTS - Suspicious Betting Trends In Soccer.

BOOKS - China Holding Swedish Publisher.


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