Monday, September 21, 2009

Ecocomic Recession Watch: Wayne Enterprises Edition

Batman and Robin #4 by Grant Morrison and Philip Tan (2009)

I bet we're all wondering how Wayne Enterprises is holding up during the recession. After all, many of the big comic businesses are in a bit of a slump. Stark Enterprises, for instance, is pretty much dismantled, albeit for reasons outside the scope of the recession and more in the vicinity of evil alien impersonators tarnishing Tony Stark's reputation. The Daily Bugle is now The DB and isn't doing too well either. Surely, Wayne Enterprises must have felt some shock as well. I mean, Bruce Wayne is conspicuously missing, leaving the burden of the day-to-day business to folks like Lucius Fox and Dick Grayson. Oh yeah, and let's not forget about Hush's diabolical charity scheme (I really do love saying that).

Despite all this, Wayne Enterprises has usually managed to keep enough prominence in the community. In fact, to my knowledge, the business has managed to provide Bruce and his family with enough dough to keep fighting crime for decades, almost without fail. Any catastrophic external event, economics related or otherwise, might at most temporarily affect operations, but it always seems to bounce back. Hell, Wayne Enterprises still is prospering despite a cataclysmic earthquake in Gotham that pretty much leveled the entire city to the point of the US government declaring it a dead zone (by the way, how many of you have read Batman Cataclysm and thought of me. Perhaps a post soon?)

Here, we have a scintilla of evidence suggesting that Wayne Enterprises might be affected by a combination of economics, bad press and shattered leadership. The shattered leadership refers to the real Bruce Wayne being missing and a fake Bruce Wayne handing out all of the company's resources towards questionable business ventures (such as novelty and games factories). The bad press calls back to Morrison's work in Batman R.I.P., where as part of the Black Glove's plan to nab the Batman, they had published phony stories regarding Thomas Wayne's legacy, depicting him and his wife as secret, deviant drug addicts. All of this would certainly go towards corrupting the company's legacy and affecting overall performance.

What about economics? Well, taking a quick glance at the wikipedia page for Wayne Enterprises, we see that the company has branches and subsidiaries dealing with several diverse elements of the market, including steel production, ship building, aerospace, oil and chemicals, biotechnology, electronics and entertainment. That is a huge behemoth of a company.

Though there have been many incarnations of the business (some writers have even portrayed the company as making a substantial amount from selling weapons and arms) and although many of you might think differently, I like to think of Wayne Enterprises as primarily a biotechnology and health-care firm. Thomas Wayne was conceived of the company as a means of doing the research and developing the technology to help as many people as he possibly could. After his death, Bruce continued the mission. It is no surprise that the cornerstone of the business is health-care related and that Wayne Technologies is, by far, the largest division of the company.

Though there's always money in health care, profits are probably falling. By how much, I don't know. But consider Amgen Inc., the world's largest biotech company, who reported ugly losses in the first quarter of 2009 (profits fell by 7.4%)

Here's one piece of data I found interesting regarding biotechnology and medical equipment. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, investment in both has gone down. In fact, investment in biotechnology in the first quarter of 2007 was about $1.5 billion. In the first quarter of 2009, it was only about $577 million. For medical technology, it was $1.2 billion in Q1 2007 and $453 million in Q1 2009.

This means a lot for smaller firms, especially those struggling to compete against the big guns. After all, even huge pharma giants like Merck are now getting into the biotech game.

However, Wayne Enterprises is huge. Possibly too big to fail, even with missing CEOs and looming threats from villainous impersonators. Even though they will face losses, let's not forget that there are virtually no competitors in the DC Universe. Lexcorp used to provide considerable competition, but since Lex Luthor has been shamed and jailed, Wayne Enterprises bought it out. It is generally known as the provider of medical technologies and the biotechnology research firm of the DC Universe.

If Wayne Enterprises can survive an earthquake, alien attacks, and even armageddon, I think it can withstand the great ecocomic recession.


Jay said...

Sure, they don't know where Bruce is right now. OTOH, nobody's rerouting billions toward custom-designed bat-themed stealth aircraft. They probably have more money than they know what to do with, and are wondering why it just appeared all of the sudden.

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