from Russell Boyce:

The politics of bowing in Japan – How low do you go?

By Michael Caronna, Chief Photographer Japan

In Japan nothing says I'm sorry like a nice, deep bow, and lately there's been a whole lot to be sorry for. Ideally the depth of the bow should match the level of regret, allowing observers to make judgements about how sincere the apology really is. Facing massive recalls Toyota President Akio Toyoda and Toyota Motor Corp's managing director Yuji Yokoyama faced journalists at separate news conferences.


Toyota Motor Corp's managing director Yuji Yokoyama (R) bows after submitting a document of a recall to an official of the Transport Ministry Ryuji Masuno (2nd R) at the Transport Ministry in Tokyo February 9, 2010. Toyota Motor Corp is recalling nearly half a million of its flagship Prius and other hybrid cars for braking problems, a third major recall since September and a further blow to the reputation of the world's largest automaker.      REUTERS/Toru Hanai


Toyota Motor Corp President Akio Toyoda bows at the start of a news conference in Nagoya, central Japan February 5, 2010. Toyota Motor Corp President Toyoda apologised on Friday for a massive global recall that has tarnished the reputation of the world's largest car maker. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon


Toyota Motor Corp President Akio Toyoda (L) and Executive Vice President Shinichi Sasaki (2nd L) attend a news conference in Nagoya, central Japan February 5, 2010. Toyota Motor Corp President Toyoda apologised on Friday for a massive global recall that has tarnished the reputation of the world's largest car maker. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

Bowing is also a standard greeting in Japan, but it can be surprisingly difficult to get the right match for the occasion and your relative station to the other person to make the perfect bow that is neither rudely abbreviated nor outlandishly deep. For people not used to bowing it's an especially difficult challenge.

How cutting prop desks hits M&A

A wee while ago, DealZone posited that bonus-hungry bankers who had gravitated to bank prop desks might return to the once-glorified M&A desks after the Obama administration targeted banks’ proprietary trading as a business too risky for banks. A logical argument, but one that ignored an aspect of the M&A game that is becoming starkly obvious: deals putting trading operations into banks are clearly at risk.

A source tells us that JPMorgan is rethinking its planned $4 billion purchase of RBS Sempra with an eye to let the U.S. power and gas businesses be bought by Sempra Energy, which jointly owns RBS Sempra with Royal Bank of Scotland. This would leave the U.S. bank with the joint venture’s oil operations and all of the non-U.S. businesses, a source familiar with the matter said.

JPMorgan started exclusive talks with RBS and Sempra on about Jan. 20, after warding off rival suitor Deutsche Bank, which is not expected to have re-entered any talks, according to sources familiar with the situation. But if U.S. banks wind up having to chop and trim their own deals to conform with new regulations, European and Asian rivals may well wind up picking up high-octane U.S. trading assets.

Chrysler, an American Bankruptcy

CHRYSLER/DEALERSChrysler’s private equity owners Cerberus, or at least their lawyers, will arrive at bankruptcy court in Manhattan later this morning. Yesterday, President Obama assured hand-wringing industrialists that the process would be quick and efficient and that Chrysler would emerge a leaner, meaner machine.

To some degree, one can look at the U.S. airline industry in the same light. But that industry, while “saved” through bankruptcy numerous times, is today a shadow of its former self, and remains haunted every so often by the threat of a return to that business mortuary for rebirth.

But a lot has changed since the crisis mad bankruptcy court so busy. The key for the new age of court-run restructuring is to sell major assets before going to court — effectively leaving creditors to haggle over the dregs. Some disgruntled creditors contend that the quick bankruptcy promised by Obama is being engineered in such a way because the sales would never make it past a judge.

Newt Gingrich weighs in on financial regulation and Obama’s stimulus

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich spoke with Reuters reporter John McCrank at an inauguration event at the Canadian Embassy in Washington. Gingrich discusses whether the financial system needs more regulation and how long it will take for the economy to recover: “It’s like having a big tummy-ache and long a stretch of indigestion.”

He also weighs in on Obama’s stimulus plan: “Ironically he ran on change you can count on and his stimulus is basically Bush plus.”

Obamanomics and the Federal Reserve

Barack Obama economic adviser Laura Tyson said at the Democratic National Convention on Monday that U.S. financial regulation needs modernizing, but hedged on how big a role to give the Federal Reserve.

Tyson, former chair of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Clinton administration, said she believes the Fed failed to crack down on subprime mortgage lending in recent years.

“What we have learned from the past two years … is that the old form of regulation is broken,” Tyson said.

Budweiser: The flag pin of beers?

obama-beer.jpgPresidential candidate Barack Obama found himself in the midst of the increasingly politicized Anheuser-Busch takeover battle on Monday, becoming the latest politician to weigh in against InBev’s $46.3 billion bid during a news conference in the Budweiser brewer’s home town of St. Louis, Missouri.

“I do think it would be a shame if Bud is foreign-owned,” Obama said. “I think we should be able to find an American company that is interested in purchasing Anheuser Busch if in fact Anheuser Busch feels that it’s necessary to sell.”

Obama has plenty of company in his defense of what is seen as that most American of beers — a perception cemented by nearly half a billion dollars in annual ad spending. Missouri’s Gov. Matt Blunt and Sen. Claire McCaskill have also come out against the deal, although it’s not clear they’re in a position to stop it.