Whenever I think of the commercial paper market, I think of AT&T, since that's the company my high school econ teacher used to explain this type of short-term corporate borrowing. So I'm personally amused that one of the first big companies to speak up about the tightening market is in fact AT&T (NYSE: T). Today, CEO Randall Stephenson described the market as "day to day", according to AP, while last week it was completely stuck for the company. So what does this mean practically? It means that for general operations (payroll, etc.) it has to use its own cash flow and capital base. That's not going to bring the company to a halt, but it's less efficient and costlier than short term debt funding.
Also speaking up about the economy today was Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer, who acknowledged that the weak economy would affect business (kind of obvious) and he implored Congress to pass a bailout bill like the one that failed yesterday. Combine these captains of industry speaking out and a few angry calls from local car dealers that can finance their next shipment, and a few more reps might have the political cover they need to pass a bill this week.
By Joseph Weisenthal