Curious Timing for GM Dividend Announcement

The internet was ablaze Tuesday evening with stories presenting a perceived positive move by General Motors’ outgoing government-appointed management. All hail! “General Motors to pay first dividend since 2008,” trumpeted the headlines. GM shares immediately spiked up in after-hours trading with shares rising about $1.60 or 4% on the news. Unfortunately for those duped by the proclamation, GM followed the story hours later with a profit warning. For the time being, the bad news outweighed the good with GM shares reversing course and ending the day Wednesday with a loss of over one and a half percent on a day that the market rallied.

So, let’s ask the questions mainstream journalists won’t. Why in the world would GM announce a dividend (subsequently hurting investors who buy on the news) hours before giving negative guidance? Why was this decision and announcement made by outgoing management just days before new CEO, Mary … Read More ➡

Awards Won’t Drive Sales for Recalled Chevy Silverado

Silvardo awardGeneral Motors seems to be really good at winning awards for its vehicles. The Chevy Silverado just took home the North American Truck of the Year Award at the Detroit Auto Show. The truck also was just embarrassingly recalled due to a potential fire hazard. Unfortunately for GM, the bad news outweighs the good as awards do not always result in increased sales. Just look at the award-winning Chevy Volt as an example.

Like the Silverado, the 2011 Volt was a recipient of the North American Car of the Year Award. In fact, it seems that the Volt has won more awards than Wilbur, the Prize-Winning Pig from the children’s tale, Charlotte’s Web. But winning awards did not make the Volt appealing to mainstream consumers as sales have never lived up to the hype. And while the Silverado may literally be off to a blazing start, figuratively speaking sales … Read More ➡

Dismal Chevy Spark EV Sales Make the Volt Look Good

Barra and VoltThe final tallies for 2013 sales are in for the Chevy Volt and its little sister, the Chevy Spark EV. The results are ugly.

While the Volt relies on both a gas engine and electric power, the Spark is actually an electric-only vehicle, assumedly designed to compete with the all-electric Nissan Leaf which had sales of 22,610 for the year. The Spark EV did not compete well, with sales for 2013 coming in at only 589 for the seven months in which it was offered. Chevy Volt sales for the year also disappointed, coming in at 23,094 and down from 2012 sales. The Volt’s sales drop came during a year when overall US car sales rose about 8%.

Back in November of 2012, new General Motors CEO, Mary Barra, hyped the Chevy Spark EV and proclaimed that GM would focus on such plug-in electric vehicles in the future. If this … Read More ➡

Duke Energy Expresses Concern for Poor Over Rooftop Solar Costs

Duke new logoIn a sudden, unexpected burst of concern about how mandates of renewable energy harm its low-income customers, a Duke Energy executive testified Tuesday that aspects of the government-imposed schemes (mostly welcomed by public utilities) cost far more than they save, and said they are net job losers.

The admission, by Duke’s president for North Carolina (the company’s home state), came during a hearing of a state legislative commission on energy. The specific policy targeted by Paul Newton was the practice of net metering, in which individual homeowners who have installed solar panels are able to sell their electricity to a utility’s grid at the same full kilowatt-hour price that it is delivered to them from the grid.

“While net metering customers use the same utility infrastructure as any other customer,” said Newton, “they pay a significantly lower utility bill due to the full retail rate credits they receive for the … Read More ➡

Mel Watt Sworn in as Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac Conservator

mel-wattAs a Democratic North Carolina congressman, Melvin Watt had a hand in creating the mortgage meltdown. Now he’s the new head of an agency charged with helping to reverse the meltdown. Irony is well and alive in Washington, D.C.  Yesterday former Rep. Watt (in photo) was sworn in to a five-year term as director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), created in 2008 to oversee Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These two companies now hold or guarantee roughly $5 trillion in assets. The Democratic-majority Senate had confirmed Watt on December 10 by 57-41 following a failed effort in October to block a Republican filibuster.  The approval followed a Senate vote on November 21 to lower the bar for invoking cloture (i.e., breaking a filibuster) on most presidential nominations from 60 votes to a simple majority.

To understand why Mel Watt is the wrong man to head FHFA, it would … Read More ➡

Chevy Volt Electric Range Drops to 20 Miles in Cold

Volt in snowA recent study by fleetcarma.com unveils yet another drawback of General Motors’ much-hyped Chevy Volt. It appears that the environmentally-conscientious, affluent owners of the vehicles who drive in cold weather will get about half of the electric range, on average, of those who drive in warmer climates.

Fleetcarma charted real-world data displaying an average electric range of approximately 20 miles for Volts driven during temperatures of about 25 degrees Fahrenheit. The owners of President Obama’s favorite car who were under the impression that they would be helping Mother Earth by saving less than one gallon of gas a day at the expense of taxpayers also should be aware of the fact that the Volt needed to burn gas at conditions of under 25 degrees, further negating the supposed green benefits of the car.

The Volt’s range improved to an average of 40 to 45 miles at temperatures of 65 to … Read More ➡

2013: Veils of Secrecy as More ‘Green’ Taxpayer Money Disappears

Money down the drainLast year at this time NLPC reviewed 2012 as “The Year of Taxpayer ‘Green’ Waste,” and that description applied to 2013 as well. But additional trends of government opaqueness and inattention to safety and security – often related to stimulus-funded programs and their corporate beneficiaries – were also revealed.

EPA, Dept. of Energy Secretive About Communications

As President Obama began his second term, watchdogs of the administration’s environmental (EPA, Dept. of Interior) and energy (Department of Energy) cabinet spaces discovered that officials maintained secret email accounts to conduct government business out of public view. Chris Horner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute uncovered a fake identity maintained by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson while researching his book The Liberal War on Transparency. The effort to access her messages and those of other officials has been protracted.

EPA began producing records in January from Jackson’s “Richard Windsor” email account … Read More ➡

Rhode Island Public-Sector Unions Lock Horns with State Treasurer over Pensions

gina-raimondoAmong unions, the term “pension reform” is a red flag. In Rhode Island, labor officials are taking their opposition to a higher level. Early this month, a prominent researcher hired by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Ted Siedle, filed a request with the Securities & Exchange Commission requesting an investigation of Rhode Island State Treasurer Gina Raimondo (in photo). Back in mid-October Siedle had released a report accusing her and her various associates in the financial industry of siphoning benefits. Not long after, Rhode Island State Senator and Laborers union official Frank Ciccone filed a similar request with the SEC. Yet in November he resigned from his union posts. That raises the question: Is the main issue Raimondo? Or is it the role of unions, and not just in Rhode Island, in driving public-sector pensions toward insolvency?

National Legal and Policy Center has described in … Read More ➡

Obamacare Pork to UAW Rolled Out Without a Glitch

Obama UAWWhile the Obama Administration is still pumping resources and taxpayer money into the implementation of Obamacare, the initial disbursement of pork included in the bill was successfully doled out almost a full two years ago. And the main recipient of taxpayer largess was, once again, the UAW.

The Obamacare pork came in the form of a program called the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program or ERRP. $5 billion of taxpayer money was allocated to help pay for healthcare costs to retirees between the age of 55 and 65. Number one on the union-dominated list of recipients was the UAW, which received $387.2 million for its VEBA fund, which was set up to pay UAW retiree health care costs. This amount was still not good enough for the UAW as they penned a letter to Congress in February of 2012 requesting an increase in ERRP funding to $10 billion.

General Motors … Read More ➡

More Fire, More Subsidies for Tesla in California

Elon MuskThere’s that uncomfortable juxtaposition of words again: “Tesla” and “fire.”

This time was quite an accomplishment by the electric automaker’s publicity department: they kept the Irvine, Calif. garage fire quiet for over a month. The secrecy expired on the November 15 incident when the Orange County Fire Authority attributed the incident to the EV’s re-powering set-up, according to a report obtained by Reuters.

“The fire occurred as a result of an electrical failure in the charging system for an electric vehicle,” the report said, while stating the cause of the fire is unclear. “The most probable cause of this fire is a high resistance connection at the wall socket or the Universal Mobile Connector from the Tesla charging system” which was plugged into a 240-volt wall socket, the report said.

CEO Elon Musk (pictured with President Obama) and his PR mavens have been putting out image “fires” … Read More ➡

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