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:
After the failure in Copenhagen last year for countries who hoped for a successor agreement to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on global warming, lower expectations surrounded this year's version of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Cancun. That's not the same as saying desires for a massive wealth transfer from developed countries to developing countries was diminished -- it's just that they went about it differently.
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.
The General Motors' IPO has lead to the Obama Administration declaring victory for a successful GM restructuring. GM executives echo the optimistic view of a now healthy auto company with a "fortress like" balance sheet since the infusion of over $50 billion of taxpayer money. There is still one major test left to see just how healthy GM is.