July 16, 2015 Last Updated 8:11 am

Greek parliament vote lifts markets; a Netflix earnings beat; the Tories target the BBC

Morning Brief: The NYT relents and will list Sen Ted Cruz book at number 7 in its next bestseller list, while reviews of the ‘new’ Harper Lee book reflect the fact that the book was eventually rewritten by its author

The Greek parliament after midnight voted to approve the deal between Greece and its lenders in a vote that temporarily split the ruling party. The vote was a charade as the government had never seriously prepared the country to leave the Euro and so all along negotiated from a position of weakness. There are no drachmas that will need to be burned this morning.

greece-frontThe vote lifted European stocks today, with both the German DAX and French CAC 40 up over 1.5 percent. Both Dow and Nasdaq futures are up modestly. The Euro is trading down this morning, trading at 1.0869, likely as efforts to boost the value of the currency are considered no longer needed.

Greece’s vote comes only a day after the International Monetary Fund warned that it might not back the new bailout unless the deal reduced the country’s debt burden. So, in the end, last night’s vote still may not mean much and the crisis could continue if the IMF refuses to be a party to more austerity without debt relief.

netflix-logo-250Netflix surprised investors with a rosy earnings report, saying revenue increased over 20 percent to $1.64 billion from $1.34 billion a year ago. The company also added a better-than-expected 3.28 million streaming subscribers last quarter.

Netflix said it will now expand to Japan, Portugal, Italy and Spain this fall.

But profits actually fell over 60 percent versus last year, but the declines were expected as the company expands its operations and so Netflix stock is up over 10 percent in pre-market trading.

The Tories appear very serious about cutting the BBC down to size, a mission mirrored in the US with Republican attacks against public broadcasting. The UK governmetn today announced a charter review that can either be seen as an attempt to modernize and prioritize the mission of the broadcast service, or as the expected reward to conservative newspaper owners who helped drive the recent election results.

In any case, the BBC is about to be cut down to size, with its funding mechanism the target.

“The BBC has also been criticized in this period for its financial management and transparency,” wrote John Whittingdale, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport in the BBC Charter Review (see PDF). “Pay-offs for senior executives and the growth in the number of senior managers and size of their salaries have drawn criticism that the BBC has only recently begun to address. The Digital Media Initiative (a major technology project) failed to deliver its objectives, or any product at the end, despite costing license fee payers £100 million.6 Governance systems have proved opaque and cumbersome. Lessons must be learned in all of these areas if the BBC is to address the challenges of the future.”

The BBC was shift in response:

We believe that this Green Paper would appear to herald a much diminished, less popular, BBC. That would be bad for Britain and would not be the BBC that the public has known and loved for over 90 years.

But the Tories do not have to rely on a coalition partner now and so their pet projects are likely to win swift approval.

cruz-bookThe New York Times has reversed its decision to not list A Time For Truth, a book authored by Sen. Ted Cruz, on its bestseller list. The decision to exclude it, supposedly for bulk sales, gave the paper a black eye as it was seen as a political decision. Rather than try and defend its decision it will list the book at number 7 when its new list comes out.

The book is currently listed as number 1 on Amazon.com where it has received 130 reviews, about half as many as Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman, but still a good number for a book in the politics section.

As for that Harper Lee book, the reviews are coming in and they are not good. What a surprise (not), being that the book was originally rejected by the publisher, and completely rewritten by its author. For a book never meant to be read by the public, Watchman sure has sold. Well done Harper.

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