China Can’t Appreciate Obama-Biden Vision for Fisker in Delaware

Biden Strickland photo

For weeks now the buzz about Fisker Automotive, the latest Department of Energy-funded clunker, is that two China-based automotive companies – Zhejiang Geely Holding Group (which owns Volvo) and Dongfeng Motor Corp. (which is state-owned) – were in bidding negotiations to buy an ownership stake of an unknown size. The speculation was that Fisker was following a similar path as stimulus-financed A123 Systems, which supplied the batteries for Fisker and was recently bought by Sino-owned Wanxiang Group.

But what seemed like the inevitable has been halted if a Wall Street Journal report (subscription-only) from Tuesday is to be believed. Apparently Fisker’s management still thinks it can access the remainder of a $529-million DOE loan, which it had received a portion of ($193 million) before its shortcomings forced the feds to say “no mas.” According to one of the newspaper’s sources, Fisker negotiators proposed to the Chinese … Read More ➡

What Twinkies Can Teach Us About GM

TwinkiesBin Laden is dead and Twinkies are alive! That might have been the rallying cry if we were in an election year and if the Bakers Union was deemed as important as the UAW to the parties seeking reelection. But the Obama Administration is not as dependent on smaller unions, like the Bakers Union, for contributions and votes. That fact allowed the Hostess bankruptcy to proceed in an unimpeded manner in which such processes were designed to.

It was recently reported that the Hostess bankruptcy would not lead to the end for brands like Twinkies, Wonder Bread, and a bunch of others. The initial filing brought speculation that Twinkies would disappear forever as panic set in for junk food enthusiasts and lead to boxes of the iconic brand being hoarded by many. The outcome can give us some insight into how the General Motors bailout could have been handled … Read More ➡

Could a NC Law Put EPA Doctor-Researchers in Jail?

EPA testWill a state be willing to act against the Environmental Protection Agency’s practice of exposing humans to diesel exhaust emissions, when medical authorities and the courts have refused to intervene?

It may be the case in North Carolina, where doctors have conducted such experiments at EPA’s Human Studies Facility in Chapel Hill. A bill introduced at the state legislature would criminalize research that subjects human beings to the inhalation of “fine particulate matter” (called “PM2.5” in regulators’ lingo), which EPA and previous Administrator Lisa Jackson have said causes cancer and even premature deaths. A felony conviction, if the bill is passed as written, would require punishment at the same level as those found guilty of patient abuse, and assault inflicting bodily injury.

The measure was drawn up because federal Judge Anthony Trenga ruled the court had no jurisdiction in a lawsuit against EPA, because EPA’s behavior was not … Read More ➡

Grand Jury Investigating New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez

Robert MenendezThe Washington Post today reports that a federal grand jury is investigating Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) for pushing a Dominican port security deal that would have meant a windfall for Dr. Salomon Melgen, a major donor. The post security deal was first reported in the New York Times on February 1, based on information provided by NLPC.

Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Peter Wallsten cited unnamed sources for the existence of the grand jury and a related investigation. According to the story:

Last month, people with knowledge of the case said FBI agents were conducting interviews in the Dominican Republic and the United States concerning allegations against Menendez, including the role he played in advocating for the enforcement of the port-security contract.

The reporters point out:

Cases of political bribery are extremely hard to build and prove, according to ethics experts and public-corruption defense lawyers, and many such investigations

Read More ➡

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 ➡