Weil's View on Finance, Afternoon Edition
Good afternoon, View fans. Remember that nice pop in Microsoft's stock price last month after Steve Ballmer said he would retire as head of the company? Well, almost all of the gain disappeared today after Microsoft said it would pay $7.2 billion to buy Nokia's mobile-phone business. Seems he couldn't leave well enough alone. And on that note, on to today's afternoon reads.
Does Microsoft's Nokia deal make sense?
Ben Thompson of Stratechery says no, and he makes some strong points: "There is nothing further to be gained by an acquisition. Moreover, the fact Steve Ballmer is stepping down makes a deal of this magnitude hugely problematic."
Did the U.S. sue S&P as payback over losing its AAA rating?
Standard & Poor's in a court filing accused the Justice Department of suing it as retaliation for downgrading the country's credit rating, which had been AAA. But does that mean the feds' lawsuit has no merit? Even if the accusation is true, the government still might have the company over a barrel for the way it sold pristine ratings on garbage mortgage bonds.
Celebrity stock market debate: Overvalued or undervalued?
Yale economist Robert Shiller says the U.S. stock market is overvalued, using a measure called the cyclically adjusted price/earnings multiple. Another famous economist, Jeremy Siegel of the Wharton School at Penn, is bullish and argues that the measure is based on faulty data. John Authers at the Financial Times explains what the brouhaha is about.
Another Elon Musk company that's attracting short sellers
Avi Salzman of Barron's wrote a provocative, bearish piece about Solar City, which controls 17 percent of the market for residential solar installations and counts Elon Musk, the Tesla Motors chief, as its chairman. "Growth could be more elusive than many investors think," Salzman writes. He says the company could have trouble maintaining some big government subsidies.
No U.K. taxes for Vodafone in Verizon Wireless deal
Vodafone is getting a $130 billion payout and will pay $5 billion in U.S. taxes, but none in the U.K., where it is based. Amy Thomson of Bloomberg News reports that some members of Parliament are upset.
(Jonathan Weil is a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow him on Twitter.)