Taxpayers Get Hosed in GM Buyback of Treasury Shares

Government MotorsLet’s all rejoice! The Treasury Department is finally beginning to unload the taxpayers’ stake in General Motors after a three and a half year stint of government involvement in the company. While the decision to get taxpayers out of the private sector is the correct one, the move is hardly a cure-all for what ails GM. And despite reports to the contrary, this does not bring closure to all groups that were involved in the unprecedented intrusion of government into the private sector that saw politically-powerful groups like the UAW receive favorable treatment over other classes.

Let’s start by reviewing the GM buyback deal that was just announced. Of the $50 billion or so of taxpayer money that went to GM, about $40 billion went towards the purchase of approximately 800 million shares of stock in “New” GM. That comes out to roughly $50 a share paid by taxpayers. GM …

Nissan Admits Arrogance in Sales of Taxpayer-Subsidized Leaf

Ghosn photoA top Nissan official has said the company was “arrogant” in its marketing and sales approach for the all-electric Leaf, which received a $1.4 billion stimulus loan guarantee from President Obama’s Department of Energy.

Not that the company is going to return taxpayers their money, since the premise upon which Nissan received the loan were ridiculously high production estimates. Too much in expenses would have to be eaten otherwise.

“We were a little bit arrogant as a manufacturer when we went to the 50-state rollout,” said Al Castignetti, Nissan’s vice president for sales, to Automotive News in late November. “We had assumed that there were people just waiting for the vehicle who would raise their hand and say, ‘Give me a Leaf, give me a Leaf, give me a Leaf.’”

Considering there weren’t many people “raising their hands” in the few states where Nissan did roll out the …

Canada Follows US Lead on Refusal to Sell GM Stake

It would appear that there is a bit of a Mexican standoff regarding the sale of General Motors stock by the three major holders. The US government (aka taxpayers), the UAW and the Canadian government have a combined ownership stake in GM of about 50%. If any of these three were to dump their shares on the market, the remaining holders will see a drop in the value of their shares due to the dilutive effect of the new shares hitting the market. Recent stories regarding the mindset of the Canadian government reveal that they will mirror the market-timing philosophy of the US government by hanging on to their stake. The decision may be driven by closed door meetings with US Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner.

According to thetruthaboutcars.com, “(Canadian) Finance Minister Flaherty said he has had ‘continuing discussions’ on the subject of the GM stake with U.S. Treasury Secretary …

Chinese Company Wins Auction for Taxpayer-Backed A123 Systems

A123 logoThe auction for the assets and business of green stimulus recipient A123 Systems has been won by Chinese auto parts manufacturer Wanxiang Group, which aggressively sought the electric vehicle battery maker at least since the summer.

The successful bid – reported to be about $260 million – follows weeks of warnings by the U.S. government, congressmen and a group of former military and other leaders that transfer of the Massachusetts-based company would compromise American jobs, technology and security. The auction attempts to address some of those concerns, as Wanxiang was not awarded any of A123’s contracts with the U.S. Department of Defense. Instead the company’s “government business,” including all its military contracts, was awarded to Illinois-based Navitas Systems.

“We think we have structured this transaction to address potential national security concerns expressed during the review of our previous investment agreement with Wanxiang announced in August as well as to …

GM Hypes Chevy Volt’s Insignificant 100 Millionth Mile

Akerson and VoltGeneral Motors is making more ridiculous claims on the Chevy Volt by flooding the web with stories of how 100 million electric miles have been driven since the Volt’s much-hyped inception. Let’s put the boasting in perspective. In the two plus years that it took for Volt drivers to put on 100 million miles, gas-powered vehicles logged over 5 TRILLION miles in the US. It would take only 5,000 cars traveling 10,000 miles a year to log 100 million miles in two years. The Volt has fallen far short of sales goals and has cost taxpayers billions of dollars in subsidies to reach the much-publicized but unimpressive milestone. So, what’s the net reduction in gas usage in the US as a result of the Volt’s accomplishment? Less than .002%.

Only the most extreme green energy ideologue and Volt proponent could brag about saving less than .002% of gas at the …

Apple Doubles Renewable Project at Expense of Duke Energy Customers

green Apple logoA data center in western North Carolina built by Apple, Inc. has now doubled the size of its associated power-generating fuel cell facility, one which in April NLPC reported was a conflict of interest for Apple director and former Vice President Al Gore.

Major technology companies such as Google, Facebook and eBay build these massive server farms to support services such as cloud computing, but in an effort to pacify environmentalists about their enormous energy use, many go to great lengths to make these facilities appear “green.” They’re not.

Chief among the techno-eco-conscious is Apple, which has dropped a bundle on supplemental renewable energy projects – especially one that is adjacent to its new computer server facility in Maiden, N.C. First came a 100-acre solar farm that was built as the result of what you would think would be environmentally offensive clear-cutting, but three years of tree burning didn’t …

Sharpton Way Behind on Washington, D.C. Rent; Faces Eviction

Al SharptonThe new, improved Reverend Al Sharpton has been establishing a Washington, D.C. presence ever since President Obama took office nearly four years ago. But apparently, the New York City-based minister, politician and media personality hasn’t evolved from his attitude about the need to pay bills on time. Last week the Washington Post reported that Sharpton’s nonprofit vehicle, National Action Network (NAN), is seven months behind on its rent for downtown Washington building space it sublets from the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials, or COMTO. The overall debt now exceeds $28,000. His top aide, Rachel Noerdlinger, insists NAN has made good on all past due balances. Yet given Sharpton’s history of leaving creditors out in the cold, COMTO would do well to be skeptical.

Nobody likes to pay bills. But people typically pay anyway because it’s the right and legal thing to do. In buying something, we incur an obligation to …

GM’s New Electric Chevy Spark – More Green Insanity

Chevy SparkAlbert Einstein is credited with having defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Well, prepare for more insanity as General Motors is doubling down on green energy and plug-in cars after the disappointing sales results from previous entries into the field. The politically-motivated hype that we saw, and continue to see, on the Chevy Volt will be repeated. This time the over-hyped vehicle will be a Korean-made, all-electric Chevy Spark.

The misrepresentations from GM and the media on the Spark EV (electric vehicle) are already starting with headlines on stories (like this one from Bloomberg) boasting that the car will start at a price tag of under $25,000. Not exactly. For some strange reason, the price of the new Spark EV and the Chevy Volt are now being quoted after tax incentives. It is also interesting to note that Bloomberg quotes the …

Jim Rogers to Leave Duke Energy After Merger Fiasco

Jim Rogers and windmill photoThe long, crony-capitalizing, rent-seeking reign of CEO James Rogers at Duke Energy looks like it will come to an end – in a year, but possibly sooner.

The departure follows the saga that was the merger between Charlotte, NC-based Duke and Raleigh, NC-based Progress Energy, which was completed in June – sort of. After the North Carolina Utilities Commission delivered the final regulatory approval it needed, Duke’s board ousted former Progress head Bill Johnson. Throughout the nearly 18-month process the pending partner companies proclaimed Johnson would be the CEO of the new combined Duke, with Rogers moving up to chairman, but the directors schemed in the final months of negotiations and then sprung the firing on Johnson only hours after they congratulated him on his new position.

The NCUC was not happy about the deception, and launched an investigation and hearings with hints dropping all around that …

Nissan Cancels Grand Opening of Taxpayer-Backed EV Plant

Ghosn photoThe moment that all we electric automotive industry stakeholders (that is, taxpayers) have been waiting for has arrived! The dreams that spurred our $1.4 billion investment in Nissan’s Tennessee plant, for construction of the all-electric Leaf, and its batteries, will finally be realized!

Pass out the scissors for the ribbons, set up the podium for the dignitaries, and roll out a few of those shiny new models…what’s that you say? The ceremony’s been cancelled?

Sure enough, the planned grand opening a couple weeks ago for the Japanese automaker’s factory in Smyrna, Tenn. was called off. It’s not going to be rescheduled. The excuse was that there was a scheduling conflict “among key stakeholders,” which is a surprise considering that with so much taxpayer money behind Nissan’s loan guarantee, “key stakeholders” are plentiful.

But seriously, the horrid-selling Leaf never deterred Nissan from celebrating every milestone – real and …

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