Henrik Fisker Quits as Chairman of His Own Company

Fisker logoIn the end, even Al Gore, Leonardo DiCaprio, Justin Bieber, Jay Leno, former Chrysler and General Motors execs, billionaire Silicon Valley venture capitalists, generous California government incentive givers, Delaware subsidizers, and President Obama’s Department of Energy investment arm couldn’t overcome the dud that was the $102,000-plus Fisker Karma.

And now as the company desperately seeks for cash and/or a rescuer – probably in China – a disagreement arose between Fisker’s founder and its top management. So the man for whom the company was named, Henrik Fisker, quit. The Los Angeles Times and dozens of other outlets reported yesterday that Mr. Fisker left over disputes about “direction” for the company, citing “several major disagreements.”

But Automotive News seemed to have the inside track on the Danish designer’s thinking, after it was able to obtain an email interview.

“I’m proud of having brought the first luxury plug-in … Read More ➡

Will GM Buy Back Ally Financial on the Cheap?

GM Ally logosI recently wrote about how government-owned Ally Financial was the only big bank that failed the Federal Reserve’s stress test and how that ties in to General Motors’ operations. The bailed-out bank formerly known as GMAC received about $17 billion of taxpayer money as part of the auto bailout (aka bankruptcy) process. It is now possible for GM, which relies on the auto lending unit of Ally Financial, to buy back the best segment of the bank on the cheap after taking advantage of the taxpayer largesse that saved the lender.

The Obama Administration has received criticism for its lack of vision for Ally as Treasury has given no indication that it would end the government’s intrusion into the private sector by selling its Ally stake. Since GM sold off most of its Ally / GMAC holdings (which was required for Ally to get a taxpayer handout) and the government … Read More ➡

Bailed-Out Ally Financial Only Bank to Fail Stress Test

GM Ally logosThe Federal Reserve’s latest round of stress tests for the banking industry showed only one bank remaining on a shaky financial foundation. That bank was government-owned Ally Financial (the bailed-out company formerly known as GMAC), which also happens to be General Motors’ prime source for financing.

GM divested itself of GMAC so that the struggling lender could be classified as a bank holding company and receive billions of taxpayer dollars. In a move to distance itself from GM, the company was renamed Ally Financial. The government maintains majority ownership of Ally Financial, which in turn has helped GM by financing retail sales and dealership inventories.

GM is the only major automaker without its own captive financing arm. Bailed-out Chrysler recently cut the umbilical cord which maintained the flow of taxpayer-funded financial assistance from government-owned Ally by reaching a deal with Spain’s Banco Santander so that it could have in-house lending … Read More ➡

Save Billions by Ending Electric Vehicle Subsidies for Wealthy

Akerson and VoltIf the White House and Congress are looking for a place to cut, how about ending the $7,500 electric vehicle (EV) tax credit for those making over $200,000 a year?

The Congressional Budget Office recently reported that federal EV subsidies will cost taxpayers about $7.5 billion over the next few years. The majority of those buying costly “green” vehicles, like General Motors’ Chevy Volt, are making far more money than the average American. Why should those that can afford to buy these green toys get reimbursed $7,500 each as the nation is going broke?

Does anyone really think that the dismal electric car sales will get that much worse if we remove the handouts? I believe most of the ideological and rich folks who buy a $40,000 Volt, much less a $100,000 Tesla or Fisker, would have bought the car even without the subsidies. Isn’t it time to transition … Read More ➡

Is a Federal Student Loan Bailout on the Horizon?

That the cost of higher education is escalating is hardly news, least of all to families who borrow to pay for it. Less understood is that the relative ease of availability of college loans is a major reason for those rising costs – and resulting defaults. Late in January, FICO Labs, a San Jose, Calif.-based credit research company, released a report detailing a number of disturbing trends in the student lending industry. During 2005-12, the average outstanding loan balance rose by nearly 60 percent to over $27,000. And default rates were highest for recent originations. “This situation is simply unsustainable and we’re already suffering the consequences,” said FICO Labs analytics chief Andrew Jennings. Yet the Obama administration, in seeking to make college universal, may be fueling the problem to the point of inviting a bailout potentially rivaling that of home mortgages.

The present situation has been decades, not just years, … Read More ➡

Abound Solar’s Toxic Waste Highlights Enviro Hypocrisy on Pollution

Abound logoAnd the environmental pressure groups wanted you to believe solar energy was “clean” and “green.”

If that’s true, then why do we keep hearing the words “toxic” and “hazardous” connected with the production of solar panels – especially with the companies that fail?

The latest example of phony eco-purity is Abound Solar, which declared bankruptcy last summer after it had received $70 million of a $400 million Department of Energy stimulus loan guarantee. According to news reports from Colorado, where Abound was based, the state Department of Public Health and Environment found 2,000 pallets of solar panels that couldn’t be sold and therefore were identified as toxic.

“At the time of the inspection these 2,000 pallets of solar panels were deemed unsellable and a viable agreement for reclamation of the solar panels was not evident. Therefore, the department views these 2,000 pallets of solar panels as a characteristic hazardous … Read More ➡

Tesla CEO Elon Musk Fights Perceptions as Stock Drops

Elon MuskTaxpayer-supported Tesla, recipient of a $465 million stimulus loan guarantee to produce yet another electric toy car (the Model S) for rich people, reported its 4th quarter earnings last week. The word from billionaire CEO Elon Musk (Flickr photo: Jurvetson) was, “we’ll do better next quarter – promise.”

That’s a paraphrase, but nonetheless Tesla’s announcement fell short of most Wall Street analysts’ expectations. The company lost $90 million for the quarter as it ramped up production to fill pre-orders, paying workers to put in an average of 68 hours per week in December. On Thursday the company suffered the biggest one-day drop in its stock price – tumbling nearly 10 percent – in more than a year. Shares fell to $35.16 before recovering slightly on Friday, but were at $34.38 for Tuesday morning’s opening.

Unlike its counterpart Fisker, Musk and Tesla have enjoyed comparatively better … Read More ➡

Jesse Jackson Jr. Pleads Guilty to $750K in Campaign Fund Thefts

Jesse Jackson Jr.The elder Jesse Jackson has grown wealthy these past couple decades mainly by shaking down corporations. One of his sons, former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill. (see photo), has preferred a different path to wealth: his campaign till. That path is now leading to federal prison. On Wednesday, February 20, the younger Jackson, who served nine terms in Congress before resigning last November 21, pleaded guilty in District of Columbia federal court to diverting about $750,000 in re-election funds to personal use. Jackson, who since last June has been hospitalized twice at the Mayo Clinic for bipolar disorder and other problems, told U.S. District Judge Robert L. Wilkins that in pleading guilty to wire and mail fraud, he had “no interest in wasting the taxpayers’ time or money.” His wife, Sandi, until recently a Chicago city alderwoman, hours later pled guilty to a related tax fraud charge.

In a real … Read More ➡

Taxpayer-Supported Fisker Looking to China, Like A123

Fisker logoStimulus déjà vu-lishness lurks: Another “green” tech company that received hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars is financially troubled, seeks a buyer (or their preferred term – a “partner”), and China is ready to swoop in and buy up the remains on the cheap. And the same two Republican senators who slammed the last deal that went down like this are sickened again.

The first time this happened it was electric car battery maker A123 Systems that set up a deal to get $249 million (plus other multimillion dollar grants) from U.S. taxpayers, who then got left holding the bag when executives ran the company into bankruptcy, made off with some sweet bonuses, and left the techno-carcass for China’s Wanxiang Group to buy and learn about American battery innovation from.

The potential repeat scenario that appears to be playing out features Fisker Automotive, which once was A123’s … Read More ➡

GM Recovery in Reverse as Earnings Disappoint

Akerson photoGeneral Motors released its disappointing earnings report last week to the sound of crickets. While financial TV news networks (along with most analysts and journalists) ignored the negative aspects of the release, share price has fallen over 5% in less than a week since the news hit. The earnings release and subsequent SEC 10K (annual report) expose the fact that GM’s recovery is not the success that the Obama Administration and media portray. The lack of the fanfare that typically comes with GM earnings releases is as good an indication of the meaning behind the numbers as is the decline in share price.

The most glaring red flag in the latest financial reporting by GM is the unusually high amount of one-time adjustments to earnings. I previously reported that GM would have had about a $30 billion loss for the year if it did not rely on a $35 billion Read More ➡