Driving the Week: Supercommittee, assemble!; GDP forecast lowered; national retail & local job numbers to be released

LEADING OFF: RESTRUCTURING – Both Bank of America and McGraw-Hill announced restructuring plans today, but both companies are going in different directions. McGraw-Hill announced that it would split into two companies, a markets business and an education company, and that as part of the split it would engage in a $1 billion share repurchase.

On the flip side, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan said that the bank would cut $5 billion in annual costs and 30,000 employees by the end of 2013 as a part of “Project New BAC.” (FYI, 30,000 employees equals 10 percent of bank’s staff). The new plan is targeted at establishing BofA as the best, and not necessarily the biggest, banking institution.

  • My take on BofA plan: While this plan seems solid for the bank’s future, the cuts of 30,000 employees will be felt by the entire economy. To put that number in perspective, the private sector added a mere 12,000 net jobs last month (which were, of course, negated by losses of 12,000 government positions). However, BofA finds itself overextended, and the cuts will trim down some of the company’s excess in consumer banking. Several years ago, Starbucks faced a similar conundrum (bear with me here). It had a presence on every street corner, and with supply overwhelming demand, the company decided to consolidate, which has led to increased profits. Look for BofA to do the same with its consumer banking business.

GDP PROJECTIONS LOWERED (AGAIN!) – In a survey conducted by the National Association for Business Economics that was unveiled today, those polled think the U.S. economy will grow by just 1.7 percent this year (down from a May forecast of 2.8 percent) and by just 2.3 percent in 2012 (down from earlier projections of 3.2 percent).

WHAT TO WATCH FOR THIS WEEK

  • Tomorrow, the much-talked-about Congressional supercommittee will hold its first public hearing. Stay tuned for reactions.
  • On Wednesday, the U.S. will release national retail sales figures for the month of August.
  • On Thursday, CPI report for August is due out (keep a close eye on this one, particularly with inflation concerns heightened).
  • Also on Thursday, the NY state Dept. of Labor will release August jobs numbers for the state and a regional analysis of each industry sector.
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