What's Important in the Financial World (2/27/2013)

Oil pipeline
Oil pipeline

The Secret to Happiness

Money does buy happiness. Perhaps the relief from anxiety about emergency funds or retirement money is part of it. Or the very rich believe that they can pay off their mortgages, if they have not done so already. They can travel, own second homes and put their children, and perhaps grandchildren, through college. A new survey done for Spectrem's Millionaire Corner shows:

Happiness rises steadily with net worth, according to our results. Less than one-fourth of investors with a net worth of less than $100,000 (not including primary residence) rated their happiness as a nine or a ten. Compare that to 44 percent for Millionaires with a net worth of $5 million or more (NIPR).

"Americans express very complex and contradicting attitudes toward wealth," said Catherine McBreen, president of Millionaire Corner. "There's a real reluctance to associate money with happiness and love, but our data indicate that the wealthy feel significantly more satisfied with the lives they lead."

Italy's Expensive Elections

As would be expected, the fiasco caused by national elections in Italy have raised borrowing costs. Bickering over which party should control the government could go on for weeks. New national elections may have to be called. Some candidates have said they will reject austerity, which could drive up both Italy's deficit and national debt. According to Bloomberg:

Italy's borrowing costs jumped at an auction of bonds today as inconclusive elections triggered renewed concern Europe's debt crisis may deepen.

The Treasury in Rome today sold 4 billion euros ($5.24 billion) of a new 10-year bond at 4.83 percent, up from 4.17 percent at an auction of similar maturity debt on Jan. 30 and the highest since Oct. 30. The Treasury also sold 2.5 billion euros of bonds due in 2017 to yield 3.59 percent compared with 2.94 percent last month.

More Newspapers for Sale

The number of big city dailies on the market for sale is about to rise sharply. These papers are viewed by many analysts as dinosaurs, and ones that will never make money. The losses from their print editions have not been covered by online sales. At many, online sales have slowed or even reversed. That means these papers will have to resort to extraordinary efforts as they try to move toward breakeven. If there is any precedent, huge job cuts may be one solution. Another may be to cut the papers from daily publication to three times a week. This saves printing, distribution and paper costs, but may alienate readers. There are only so many buyers of large dailies to go around, which means that with several for sale, prices for these may be pushed down. The New York Times Co. (NYSE: NYT) recently put The Boston Globe on the market. In additional, according to Reuters:

Tribune Co has hired investment banks Evercore Partners and J.P. Morgan to assess interest in its newspaper unit, which includes The Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, the company confirmed in a statement on Tuesday.

A sale of its eight major newspapers, which also include The Baltimore Sun, has been widely expected since Tribune emerged from a four-year bankruptcy process late last year.

Bidding for Clearwire

Broadband infrastructure company Clearwire Corp. (NASDAQ: CLWR) is so pressed for money that it will apparently borrow funds from Sprint Nextel Corp. (NYSE: S), which has offered to buy it. New Sprint controlling shareholder Softbank wants Sprint to expand its cellular broadband footprint as a way to better compete with larger rivals AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon Wireless. But there is competition for the purchase of Clearwire, and the Sprint loan could complicate the bidding process. According to The Wall Street Journal:

Clearwire Corp. plans to tap financing made available by Sprint Nextel Corp., people familiar with the situation said Tuesday, in a move that further complicates Dish Network Corp.'s effort to buy the wireless broadband operator.

Dish has proposed buying Clearwire for $3.30 a share amid opposition among Clearwire shareholders to a deal in which Sprint would acquire the roughly half of Clearwire it doesn't own for $2.97 a share.

Clearwire previously indicated that Dish has said it would withdraw its proposal if Clearwire drew on the funds made available by Sprint. The financing is in the form of notes that convert into stock - an arrangement that gradually could give Sprint a bigger stake in Clearwire.

Watch for the battle between Dish Network Corp. (NASDAQ: DISH) and Sprint to end up in court.

Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Market Open Tagged: CLWR, DISH, NYT, S, T