Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Column: Confused about commerce? Ask Dr. Business!

This week, we turn our column over to Dr. Business, our expert on finance and the economy, to answer your business questions.

Dear Dr. Business:
What will the proposed merger of Ticketmaster and Live Nation mean for concertgoers?
Music Fan in Mashpee

Dear Music Fan:
Well, essentially the merger will create an entity so powerful that it will be able to make you see any concert it wants, so be prepared to be sitting in the 12th row for the Dexy’s Midnight Runners reunion tour, having paid $300 for your ticket and not knowing what hit you.

Also, all tickets will be sold by auction, meaning admission to a Madonna or Bruce Springsteen show might wind up costing thousands of dollars. But on the plus side, if you go see Journey with the fake lead singer, they might wind up paying you.

Dear Dr. Business:
What will the new stimulus package mean to me and my family?
Hopeful in Hopkinton

Dear Hopeful:
If you’re an average, middle-class family, you should wind up seeing an extra $13 per week in your paycheck. But if you really want to stimulate the economy, you should take that $13 and use it as a down payment on a $2,500 HDTV, and then when you find that you can’t make the payments anymore, just stop answering your phone. Trust me, I think that will work this time.

Dear Dr. Business:
I found out my credit score is in the high 500s. Do you think I’ll be able to get a loan?
Desperate in Dorchester

Dear Desperate:
It’s too bad you weren’t asking me that question a year ago, when you could have walked into the bank with that credit score and the loan officer would have issued you the loan, given you a case of fine champagne and, in some cases, kissed you full on the mouth, like the Bikini Girl did to Ryan Seacrest. But these days, she is more likely to take out her book of actuarial tables, look through it slowly and carefully, and then use it to bludgeon you to death.

Dear Dr. Business:
How might I know if my company is planning to lay me off?
Worried in Wellesley

Dear Worried:
There are a few telltale signs, such as being asked to cover the front desk so the receptionist can attend the all-staff meeting. But another thing to watch out for is if, while passing by your boss, you hear her mumble, “Dead man walking,” and when you say, “What?” she says, “Oh, nothing” and then snickers to herself. Boy, did I find that out the hard way.

Dear Dr. Business:
Is it true this is a bad time to try to sell my house?
Cash-Strapped in Canton

Dear Cash-Strapped:
Frankly, there is not much chance anyone will have an interest in your house at this time, unless you abandon it in the middle of the night and leave the door open and unlocked. And even then it’s unlikely, because people will figure you’re just setting a trap and plan to lure them into a pit in your basement.

It is, however, a good time to sell your car, assuming you’re selling it to be used as a house.

Dear Dr. Business:
I read how executives are complaining about having to limit their salaries to $500,000 if their companies take government bailout money. How can they possibly not afford to live on $500,000?
Skeptical in Scranton

Dear Skeptical:
You’d be surprised how fast that $500,000 goes. For one thing, they might need to buy concert tickets.

Peter Chianca is a managing editor for GateHouse Media New England. Find more at North Shore Sunday, and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/pchianca. To receive At Large by e-mail, write to info@chianca-at-large.com, with the subject line “SUBSCRIBE.”

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