Sales continue to drop at McDonald’s

McDonald's Big Mac

Are tastes finally changing? Are people starting to realize that too much fast food isn’t good for you?

The executives at McDonald’s will have to grapple with that question as sales continue to falter. There was a problem in Asia that made things even worse, but in the US same store sales fell 2.8%. The trend is against McDonald’s and the stock is rightfully taking a hit.

Younger people seem to prefer chains like Chipotle that clearly offer better food. Meanwhile people are paying more attention to the quality of food they eat. That may not be as true for less affluent customers, but the middle class is certainly paying more attention.

How will McDonald’s respond? Some blame the bloated menu and the slow service. I have to admit that I prefer the days when a warmed-over burger was served immediately over a freshly made burger that takes way to long and doesn’t taste much better.

Will they try to offer more healthy alternatives? That hasn’t worked in the past, but perhaps fresh wheat bread buns might be a nice option for some customers over the lame buns they serve now.

We’ll see what happens, but I wouldn’t want to be in this stock at the moment.

The business of Johnny Football

With Johnny Manziel’s trip to Las Vegas this weekend, the sports media had plenty to blather about. Should he have gone, or should have stayed and studied in Cleveland? We can let them worry about the football implications and whether partying in Las Vegas makes sense for a rookie quarterback trying to learn the playbook. Perhaps he should have stayed home and enjoyed himself playing instead of enjoying the trappings of late-night Vegas parties. But that wouldn’t have done quite as much for the brand of Johnny Football. Selfies by the pool trump sitting in front of a computer when you’re thinking about brand and endorsements. And Johnny definitely cares about his brand.

Of course, we’ve seen this before so it’s not that new. Remember Broadway Joe Namath? His lifestyle generated a brand and endorsements as well. With Johnny Football everything is just more immediate. Like Namath, he knows how to work the system of his time.

In Cleveland the frenzy has spurred all sorts of business ideas, with t-shirts leading the way. The Browns have always been big business in Cleveland, but years of losing have made it harder for businesses to capitalize on the Browns. All that changes with Johnny Football, especially if he can win football games.

Johnny Manziel is represented by self-proclaimed King James’s agency, so he’s definitely surrounded by like-minded people. Brand and money definitely matter. Endorsements matter. Of course, Lebron James learned to get past his choking in the past to finally win some championships. Johnny Manziel on the other hand is just getting started, so he’s milking what he can now, and setting the stage for even bigger things if he can be a real NFL quarterback. Of course, if he can bring a winner to the long-suffering fans of Cleveland, he’ll be a hero for generations.

So the potential is there for the business of Johnny Football to be quite substantial.

One World Trade Center is tallest building in US


The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) has determined that the official height of One World Trade Center in New York City is 1,776 feet (541.3 meters) to its architectural top, making it the tallest building in the US over the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower in Chicago. The key to the determination was that the addition at the top of the building spire integral to the design of the building as opposed to being just an antenna. Naturally, this will spark some controversy, but the CTBUH is the organization that makes these official determinations.

We snapped this photo of this still unfinished building recently from the Trump hotel in Soho which provided an excellent view. One World Trade Center is certainly a beautiful and welcome addition to the New York City skyline.

Apple brings jobs to Arizona

With Apple’s announcement that it will start manufacturing high end sapphire glass in Arizona, we have some good news on the domestic job front. The impact will be 2,000 jobs, though it’s important to note that 1,300 of those jobs will apply to the construction phase, so the permanent jobs number is 700. Still, it’s a start for high-end glass manufacturing in the United States and that could have a long-term effect. Hopefully Apple continues on this path to bring more jobs home to the US.

The GOP Establishment Fights Back

Business interests claimed that the disastrous government shutdown strategy woke them up to the problems caused by Tea Party Republicans, and last night we saw the beginning of a shift in strategy. The business community basically ignored radical right-winger Ken Cuccinelli in the Virginia governor’s race. Cuccinelli had expressed support for the Tea Party strategy and also had very extreme views on social issues. Then, in a special election for a House seat in Alabama, the business community lined up behind Bradley Byrne who was facing Tea Party darling Dean Young who made a serious of extreme statements including Birther references.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent around $200,000 on Byrne’s behalf, and Ending Spending, an outside group bankrolled by TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts, spent around $75,000 on TV and ads boosting him.

Business groups have stated that they will begin to play in primaries after several election cycles where the Tea Party and the far right were left alone to support their candidates and pick off business-friendly Republicans. In many ways this is just an escalation in the GOP civil war, but it marks an important turning point. They are sending a message to GOP House members that there will be a price to pay for spitting in the face of Wall Street and the business community.