Ford stock is taking a hit today after reporting earnings that missed analysts' estimates. European losses accounted for much of the earnings disappointment. General Motors is also known to have major issues with its European brand, Opel. GM recently assigned Alix Partners to oversee their European unit's "turnaround" plan. Alix Partners is a bankruptcy consulting firm that was hired by GM prior to their own bankruptcy filing. This is just one of many risk factors that have been glossed over by media coverage.
Upbeat reports of GM's "progress" have prompted politicians to pronounce the auto bailout a "success" and rocket the share price to 37. But do these reports reflect reality? The unrelated declines of both the American automotive and daily newspaper businesses have resulted in even less reporting on a beat that was thinly covered to begin with.
Right now, news about GM is what GM says it is. Business editors have little choice but to recycle GM press releases. They do not have the troops to do actual reporting. Even in the heat of the IPO coverage, GM's financial data was uncritically repeated, never mind that the company could not even attest to its own financials.
The New York Times reported last week that policy makers are working behind the scenes on ways to allow states to declare bankruptcy. States are currently banned from seeking protection in federal bankruptcy court.
One has to wonder if General Motors' bankruptcy outcome will embolden lawmakers to pursue a similar course for states that are overburdened with pension obligations and municipal bond debt. In the case of the GM outcome, union pension obligations were given precedence over creditor claims. The precedents set by the Obama Administration's manipulation of GM's bankruptcy will continue to have far-reaching, negative implications.
Stephen Schwarzman is Chairman, CEO and Co-Founder of the Blackstone Group private equity firm. He is reportedly worth $8 billion. According to the Blackstone website, 36% of the money it manages is in public pensions, the largest single source.
General Motors has announced that its Daewoo Group unit will now sell all of it vehicles under the Chevrolet name. The Korean Daewoo operation has suffered from falling sales and a reputation for shoddily built cars. So what is GM's answer to these challenges? Change the name!
The name change game has been played before when GMAC became Ally Financial. More recently, GM introduced the "all new" Chevy Sonic, which is an updated Aveo. This smoke and mirrors marketing philosophy will only take GM so far before the public asks, "Is this all GM has got?"
When Congress last November approved $1.15 billion to settle residual claims of racial discrimination by black farmers against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), supporters lauded the vote and President Obama's signature the following month. This, they said, was justice belatedly done. Yet critics justifiably have argued that the class-action suit rests on an edifice of fraud. One of them, a member of Congress, Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, is taking action. He's lined up a pair of unnamed witnesses, one a black farmer and the other a longtime USDA employee, willing to tell all. Early this month, Rep. King announced these individuals indicated a willingness to reveal to Congress that plaintiffs' attorneys engaged in an unscrupulous campaign to sign up co-plaintiffs, many of whom never farmed in their lives. The issue now is whether he can persuade his colleagues to hold a hearing.
The FBI's reported arrest of money manager Vincent McCrudden for allegedly making threats to kill members of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and other government officials prompts the question of what role, if any, anti-capitalist and anti-Wall Street rhetoric played in his actions. If the logic of the Left that was applied to the Tucson shootings - that Tea Partiers and Sarah Palin somehow had something to do with Jared Loughner's rampage - should not President Obama and other politicians be held responsible for McCrudden's threats?
According to CampaignMoney.com, a Vincent McCrudden made a $2,300 donation to Obama for America on April 19, 2007.
The New York Timesreports that the auto industry "overhaul" (AKA General Motors' bankruptcy) is about to "pay off handsomely" for UAW workers at GM. GM, along with Ford, is expected to announce profit-sharing checks for hourly workers this month. UAW president, Bob King, states that workers expect to get a piece of GM's profits.
Would a cut in the corporate tax rates really help create jobs? I debate this question today with David Callahan of Demos. CNBC hosts are Tyler Mathison, Sue Herera and Michelle Caruso-Cabrera. Here's a transcript:
The positive news on GM has been so rampant that many risks factors to share price have been overlooked. It is tough to get unbiased opinions since most analysts work for the GM underwriters and TV networks receive millions of dollars from GM ad revenue. While GM has much good news to discuss, the very obvious risk factor of share dilution to benefit the UAW has not been mentioned.
Here are the facts regarding GM's plans for diluting shares in order to make a $2 billion contribution to the UAW benefits fund in GM Investor Relations' own words: