The scenario has a familiar ring. A country goes on a credit binge. Borrowers in large numbers receive approval for home mortgages and other loans that they can't afford to repay. A sharp upswing in defaults and foreclosures of these now-securitized loans helps trigger a world financial crisis. And a frantic government bails out investors to prevent a depression and defuse political chaos. That's Ireland we're talking about.
JP Morgan Chase and Morgan Stanley have initiated coverage of General Motors stock with a positive recommendation, according to Bloomberg reports. Coincidentally, both firms are the lead underwriters for GM's IPO. Underwriting fees paid to both JP Morgan Chase and Morgan Stanley were recently disclosed in a chart published by the Wall Street Journal showing fees and TARP money received by major underwriters for GM.
Earlier this month, General Motors made a $4 billion cash contribution to its UAW pension fund. Reports state that an additional $2 billion worth of GM common stock will be contributed to the fund. What is not being reported is where the stock is coming from.
In addition to public ownership since the IPO, GM common shares are currently held by the US Treasury, Canadian Government, the UAW and Motors Liquidation Company (creditors of Old GM). Unless the US Treasury is giving away taxpayer shares, new shares will have to be issued for an additional $2 billion worth of common shares to fund UAW pension plans.
General Motors has recently disclosed on more than one occasion that "we have determined that our disclosure controls and procedures and our internal control over financial reporting are currently not effective." It remains to be seen how this warning affects future earnings reports, but we can review GM's past to see how previous financial reporting internal control flaws played out.
If Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and Solicitor M. Patricia Smith are pushing the limits of radical advocacy, Leon Rodriguez might just be the person to push them further. Rodriguez, for nearly a year the chief of staff at the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, is President Obama's presumptive nominee for administrator of DOL's Wage and Hour Division. The president announced on December 2 his intent to name him to the long-vacant post. But like the previous (unsuccessful) nominee, Lorelei Boylan, Rodriguez, an experienced prosecutor, has an expressed belief that what counts is equality of result, not equality under the law - even if employers have to pay the toll. If Obama is genuine about his recently stated desire to promote business development, he should find another candidate.
I discussed President Obama's CEO "summit" today with David Callahan, the author Fortunes of Change: The Liberal Rich and the Remaking of America. CNBC hosts are Melissa Francis, Sue Herrera and Michelle Caruso-Cabrera. Here is a transcript:
General Motors recently reported that it has a 93 to 95 day supply of vehicles at dealerships in its latest inventory report. This is well above the industry average of a 67 day supply, as well as exceeding analysts recommended 60 day supply. According to Jim Bunnell, general manager of GM's dealer networks, the reason is because they expect strong demand for vehicles. There is a more likely reason that should be a cause of concern for GM's new shareholders.
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) has abandoned her efforts to launch an investigation of the House Ethics Committee, which announced it was indefinitely delaying its trial of the congresswoman in late November. Waters was charged over the summer with helping to steer $12 million in federal bailout funds to OneUnited Bank, a bank in which her husband held a considerable financial stake.
When Department of Labor Solicitor M. Patricia "Trisha" Smith testified at a Senate confirmation hearing more than a year and a half ago, her track record as New York State Commissioner of Labor, and her comments about it, prompted leading Republicans to postpone action for several months. Their fears in hindsight appear well-founded. An article appearing in last Friday's Wall Street Journal reported that DOL staff, under Smith's supervision, a couple months earlier had issued a draft "operating plan" to dramatically step up enforcement against private-sector employers likely to have committed unfair labor practices. The details of the now-adopted plan indicate Smith, like her boss, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, views the department's relationship with business as necessarily highly adversarial.