The European Union (EU) is now in a full-scale panic over how to arrange financial bailouts for its least capable members. Yet few officials within the 27-nation federation have pondered the possibility that the best arrangement may be no bailout - and no EU as well. The recent experience of Iceland, which isn't a member (yet), could serve as a lesson for both Europe and the U.S. This contrasts with the subsidized nations elsewhere in Europe whose conditions are approaching a breaking point, most of all, in riot-torn Greece, on the cusp of secession (or expulsion) from the EU. Not far behind are Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain. The comparison should serve as a lesson on why governments, here or abroad, shouldn't insulate businesses from the consequences of bad decisions.
The Department of Transportation and NHTSA have announced that a "technical symposium" will be held on May 18th "to discuss safety considerations for electric vehicles powered by lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries." In addition to NHTSA's presentations, the Department of Energy, automotive manufacturers and battery makers will participate. Given the bias of the participants, the symposium sounds like it is going to be less informational and more infomercial.
When JPM Chase reported that it had lost $2 billion recently on risky derivative trades, the predictable call came from the Obama Administration to increase regulation on banks. The hypocrisy of the politically motivated proclamations becomes evident when you compare the JPM trades to Treasury's continued gamble on its taxpayer funded stake in General Motors, which has suffered an approximate $5 billion loss in value over the past year.
The Obama Administration has become quite the expert on bankruptcy filings. The Detroit Free Press reports that the third auto bailout partaker, Ally Financial, has filed bankruptcy for its mortgage subsidiary, ResCap. The government still owns 74% of Ally, and now has an 0 for 3 record on restructuring bailed out auto-related companies outside of bankruptcy.
One of the most egregious abuses of the Obama Administration's auto bailouts was the blatant favoritism evidenced in the treatment of Delphi (General Motors' parts supplier) retirees. After the Delphi bankruptcy, UAW retirees had their pensions "topped off" by General Motors, apparently with taxpayer money accessed through TARP. While the UAW retirees maintained their pension benefits, non-union, salaried retirees of Delphi lost theirs. There was no logical reason for one group to have their pensions saved while another group lost theirs, just the facts that the distributions were inequitable and the only difference between the groups was that one belonged to a powerful ally of Team Obama and the other did not.
Last week's earnings report from General Motors revealed a troubling statistic for shareholders. GM's market share for North America shrunk from 18.3% a year ago to 16.7% for the latest quarter. Not coincidently, a survey by Yahoo Autos revealed that a full 13% of consumers would now "never" consider purchasing a GM vehicle while another 15% are less likely to purchase. A negative perception of the auto bailout process and the continued political overtones at GM are the reasons for the boycott.
A couple of stories surfaced recently that should be of concern to voters that are analyzing how a Romney presidency would differ from the current administration. President Obama has a track record that can be examined to get a grasp of his agenda, but Governor Romney needs to further explain his positions on two key areas that many voters would expect to see a divergence with our present leader. The reports bring in to question whether or not Romney would be any different from the administrations over the past 12 years when it comes to dumping billions of taxpayer dollars into subsidies and bailouts.
A Jacksonville.com report gives a good explanation for why some Florida localities are purchasing Chevy Volts. When Jacksonville's chief of fleet management, Karim Kurji, was asked what the advantage of going green by purchasing Volts was he hit the nail on the head when he replied, "Federal money." The story goes on to reveal that the total federal taxpayer money used to subsidize one Chevy Volt purchased by Atlantic Beach was over $33,000. It now appears obvious that the Obama Administration and General Motors are willing to pay just about any price, even if the taxpayers are footing the bill, to see the Chevy Volt "succeed."