Seismic shifts rocking the tech business

Commentary: Fearful executives are scrambling to deal with change

By Therese Poletti, MarketWatch
SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — Over the weekend, pundits debated what motivated those on the East Coast who refused to evacuate their homes before Hurricane Irene struck, and whether they were fearless, stupid or just distrustful of authority.

A visitor plays with a tablet PC at the Intel booth during Computex in Taipei on May 31, 2011.
Perhaps the analogy is a stretch, but recent upheavals in the tech market could lead one to ponder whether it is better to stay and fight against conventional wisdom - or bail quickly at the first sign of trouble. In other words, the contrast in the approach of Research In Motion Ltd.RIMM -0.31% CA:RIM +6.44%   and Hewlett-Packard Co.HPQ -0.19%  .
The business for both personal computers and mobile phones is changing fast. PC demand is flat at best, with growth going to tablets like the iPad. Smartphones have shifted from being mobile email devices to web-surfing, media consuming all-in-one tools.
So far, RIM is proving to be the stubborn one, staying behind to guard the fort as the storm hits. Its line of keyboard-based BlackBerrys is looking more aged by the day against its sleeker touch-screen rivals, and both investors and customers are voting with their feet. But the company is effectively doubling-down on its bet, releasing a slew of similar-looking phones on a spruced up operating system this year in the hopes of keeping customers on board.

The purpose of the markets is to redistribute wealth from the many to the few

Yes, yes, I know what you are going to say … about how the markets allow corporations to raise capital in order to expand … yadda, yadda, yadda!
But, while this is a function of the markets, it is not the purpose. The purpose is to make a very few people very wealthy at the expense of the many. If the markets fail to fulfill this purpose, then the markets will cease to exist.
The wealth distribution takes place over very extended periods of time (decades, even generations). But, we see this concept operating over shorter time periods. Like the present, for example.
I believe the U.S. stock market has topped. I believe that the bear market we are entering will make a few people very wealthy at the expense of the many. The process is like the tide, coming in one wave at a time.
Some of the questions I ask myself often about any given market include:
  • How is this market going to best pick people’s pockets?

  • How will the market go about accomplishing this pocket picking?

  • How will the market impose the maximum penalty and pain on the maximum number of market participants (traders)?

  • What price action needs to take place to make the greatest number of market participants the most complacent?

Containers Slump to 50-Year Low as Sales Slow

The container-shipping industry is contending with the longest stretch of near-zero rates in its half-century history on the Asia-to-Europeroute, as a capacity glut combines with the slowest growth in trade since 2009.
Commerce on the world’s second-busiest container route rose 4.2 percent in the second quarter, the weakest since the end of 2009, Woking, England-based Container Trade Statistics Ltd. estimates. Rates excluding fuel surcharges were “practically” zero in July and little changed this month, the worst run ever, said Menno Sanderse, an analyst at Morgan Stanley in London.
While growth in container volumes has slowed for four consecutive quarters, it’s still nowhere near the 22 percent contractions seen in the first half of 2009. Europe normally imports more goods this quarter as shops begin stockpiling for the December holidays. That gain may be curbed this year as retailers anticipate mounting concern about economies and jobs will hurt consumer spending.