The trumpets sounded this morning as General Motors reported its 2014 fourth quarter earnings. GM's bottom line earnings exceeded expectations (although revenue missed and was down from last year) and the pre-market share price of GM immediately jumped over a dollar a share. Despite the victory laps being taken by GM and its friends in the media, it would be wise for individual investors to think twice before jumping on the GM bandwagon.
This past January 14, the Justice Department and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters reached an agreement to end a quarter-century of federal oversight. Prosecutors believe a new era is overdue. "While threats persist, the organized crime influence the government found to have reached the highest echelons of IBT leadership in 1988 has long been expunged," announced Southern District of New York U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. The deal, set for a hearing on February 11 before District Chief Judge Loretta Preska, phases in an autonomy plan over five years and institutes safeguards against corruption.
This time the “research” was conducted at the University of Southern California and the University of California at Los Angeles. The test subjects were 20 children between the ages of 10 and 15, who were exposed to up to 300 micrograms of diesel exhaust particles via nasal spray, as part of a project that ran from 2003 to 2010. The information was uncovered in documents obtained via the Freedom of Information Act by the Energy & Environment Legal Institute and the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, and explained in detail at the Web site JunkScience.com.
What was a prolonged hibernation for “Risky Business,” after its brief burst of ballyhoo early last summer, has finally ended. The well-paid consultants and staffers for megarich global warming activist Tom Steyer (pictured in center) are back after his failed financial foray ($74 million) to elect Democrats to the Senate.
After the June 2014 release of its first report, Risky Business: The Economic Risks of Climate Change in the United States, they decided to carve that sucker up by geography. Last week they announced to the world that we first must alert folks in flyover country with the new report, Heat in the Heartland: Climate Change and Economic Risk in the Midwest. It’s clear from their Web site that future regional reports are to come. Steyer’s Risky Business partners Michael Bloomberg and Henry Paulson also threw their names on the Midwest report “findings.”
Timing is everything. And in this 300+ page book titled Sharpton, A Demagogue's Rise, longtime Sharpton watcher and critic Carl F. Horowitz could not be more timely.
The cold-blooded murder of two New York City police officers followed weeks of Sharpton's vilification of law enforcement. The controversial minister and activist now finds himself front and center, a position he has always sought, but in a way he did not plan.
Horowitz not only explodes the myths about Sharpton by carefully documenting his past, but indicts a political culture that made possible his spectacular rise.
General Motors recently announced that it bought back preferred stock from the UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust and the Canadian government. The deal closed in December of 2014 and supposedly will result in a reduction to GM's fourth quarter earnings to the tune of $800 million. GM had the option to redeem the shares at face value after December 31st of 2014. The timing of the deal brings into question the motivation behind the move and also leads us to reexamine a previous preferred share buyback that occurred in late 2013.
If the year 2014 had a main theme, it was, as in 2013, the unions' pursuit of legal advantage. The results were mixed. Unions scored victories at the National Labor Relations Board, but they tasted defeat in the courts, most notably in their effort to unionize private home care providers in Illinois and overturn a Wisconsin law reining in public-sector costs. In another bitter pill, the United Auto Workers last February lost a representation election at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga. As for dipping their hands in tills, national union leaders generally behaved themselves, but many local bosses, office employees and business agents did not.
Today I sent the following letter to Theodore Solso, Chairman of the GM Board:
As a shareholder, the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) asks General Motors (GM) to disclose all its contributions to charitable and nonprofit organizations by the company, the General Motors Foundation, or any other entity.
This request is prompted by the acceptance of various awards by CEO Mary Barra offered by charitable and nonprofit organizations at the same time some of the groups are recipients of large cash donations from GM.
The National Labor Relations Board lately appears to believe that if an aspect of labor law isn't broke, fix it anyway. Unions certainly are comfortable with that. On December 15, the NLRB published a final rule that would dramatically shorten the duration between a union's filing of a petition to represent workers and the holding of a vote. This 'ambush' or 'quickie' election rule, under the guise of promoting fairness and efficiency, would throw roadblocks in front of an employer seeking to respond to union organizer arguments. The board issued its preliminary rule last February after a Washington, D.C. federal court in May 2012 had struck down a similar mandate on procedural grounds. Last Monday, January 5, a coalition of trade groups filed suit to block the rule, set to take effect on April 14. As before, at stake is the right of workers to choose whether to belong to a union.