Fred Smith on CNBC

After the markets had closed Thursday, the same day his company reported an uptick in quarterly revenue and a forecast of future growth, FedEx founder and CEO Fred Smith spoke with CNBC’s Larry Kudlow about a variety of subjects, one of which was Japan.

Smith said he expects Japan will bounce back relatively quicker than many people think they will.

“We resumed traffic into Japan really about 12 hours after the event, as I recall, and never ceased operations at Osaka,” Smith said. “So there’ll be some disruptions, no question, going into this horrific scene of devastation. And we’re just so upset about this and feel for the Japanese people with this unbelievable loss. But commerce will continue and I think the effects of that–except for perhaps localized supply chain disruptions, high-tech and automotive in certain instances–I think it’s a very resilient country and a very industrious people. I think you’ll see the effect less than some of the folks thought initially.”

Memphis Mentions

Despite what it might seem like sometimes, Memphis has been showing up in the national press lately beyond arbitrary magazine rankings that like to label us as obese, miserable, crime-scarred and who knows what else.

Men’s Journal has included Memphis in a roundup listing of cities where living well is more than a slogan. The cities listed put a premium on conservation, civic engagement and other quality of life issues.

Elsewhere, the prominent Huffington Post blog takes a more-than-cursory look at the back story and ramifications of the referendum in which voters supported Memphis City Schools’ surrender of its charter.

Read This

A group of creditors is arguing in bankruptcy court that the parent company of Davis-Kidd ought to probably pursue a liquidation rather than a bankruptcy reorganization.

The creditors take a pretty hard line: the book store chain, they say, is living on borrowed time.

Their stance involves some pretty crucial assumptions though. Namely, that the book industry is in an irreversible and uncontrollable decline.

Note those 2 adjectives I used. Maybe you think one or both of them apply to the book industry.

But I would like proof if anyone thinks they both apply. Because, so far, I don’t see it.

I’m keying in on the “uncontrollable” adjective, especially. I think the industry’s troubles are somewhat manageable, e-readers and the like notwithstanding.

Innovations like the Kindle and Nook are only exacerbating a more fundamental issue. And I think that issue is how book chains got too big, too fast, and loads of debt and sprawling footprints no longer make sense in this economy.

Those problems don’t have to signal the automatic death of the industry. They can be worked through.

A Look Back, as Pinnacle’s Pilot Disembarks

With the departure of Pinnacle Airlines Corp. CEO Phil Trenary that was announced today, I think it’s interesting to recall one of the most prominent developments for the company – and its home city – that occurred in recent months, and which is still unfolding.

It’s the move of its corporate headquarters from the area around Memphis International Airport to Downtown Memphis, where Pinnacle decided to take a chance on a building that’s making a comeback (One Commerce Square) and politely declined what were described as generous overtures from other areas, like north Mississippi, which badly wanted the company to look beyond Memphis.

In the spring of 2010, Memphis businessman Karl Schledwitz ran into Trenary Downtown. Trenary, at that point, had already long had his eye on One Commerce.

But when the building faced foreclosure and the bank took ownership, Trenary told Schledwitz it was starting to look like a deal wasn’t going to be possible.

Crestfallen, Schledwitz asked for just one thing: time. Specifically, how long could Pinnacle hold out before Downtown was definitely off the table?

Schledwitz wanted to try and line up a group of local investors to buy the building and negotiate with Pinnacle.

“I can give you until the next board meeting,” Trenary said at that time.

It turned out to be enough. A group of investors was assembled to buy One Commerce from US Bancorp. The investors, in turn, negotiated a deal with Pinnacle.

The deal included a trio of 13s: On Dec. 13, Pinnacle signed a lease for a 13-year term for up to 13 floors.

Forget the omen of bad luck associated with that unlucky number, though. Luck clearly had nothing to do with the outcome, given the commitment and personal involvement of civic and business leaders to make the deal happen.

And an abiding interest from Pinnacle’s leadership, including its outgoing CEO, to keep the company’s roots in Memphis.

Tennessee Among the U.S. States with Weakest Unions

Here’s some interesting data, if you’ve been following all the talk about unions coming out of Wisconsin and elsewhere.

According to the Marketwatch news service, there was a nearly 50 percent drop in union members in Tennessee over the past decade. The total number of workers in Tennessee grew by 90,000, but union members dropped from 211,000 to 115,00.

The drop-off over the decade is “by far the largest of any state.”

“Most of this drop-off in unionized workers occurred in the private sector, which lost more than 90,000 union workers over the decade,” according to Marketwatch. “Today, only 2.2% of private workers are in unions, the second-lowest rate in the country.”

Dansette

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