Last week, ex-car czar Steven Rattner seemed to pre-emptively blame rising gas prices for problems at bailed-out General Motors. Now AP reports that GM says that it will cut unnecessary spending in the wake of the Japan disaster. Here's a novel thought for GM executives, you shouldn't be spending taxpayer money unnecessarily in the first place! Beyond that, I get the sense that the crisis in Japan will be the next excuse for the continued underperformance of GM stock since its IPO.
Two weeks ago, we asked whether Interior Secretary Ken Salazar considered himself above the law by ignoring court orders to resume the permitting process for deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Now we learn that Salazar may have misled Congress and the public on the number of drilling permit applications he is ignoring.
Appearing today on CNBC, Steven Rattner, the former head of President Obama's auto task force, made some surprising observations that undermine his previously articulated optimism about the future of bailed-out General Motors. Although he cleverly tried to lump Ford in with GM, he acknowledged GM's recent reliance on incentives to sell autos:
Well, the second-largest banking city in the nation won the rights to host the Democratic National Convention in 2012, so you think the big TARP beneficiaries based in Charlotte might be the ones to step up to guarantee the funds for DNC to do its thing. You know, maybe Bank of America, which is the largest financial institution by assets in the country. Or Wachovia, now Wells Fargo, which has a lot of civic pride and survived thanks to the government intervention.
Kenneth Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center in Falls Church, Va., was once a senior official of the Legal Services Corp., serving as counsel to its board of directors from 1991 to 1994.
Since then, Boehm has been one of the LSC's most persistent critics, urging reform and even elimination of the agency. Last year he testified before the House Judiciary Committee, asking members to reject a bill that would have, in his view, eliminated many of the beneficial reforms Congress enacted in 1996. He warned that if the bill passed, "once again Legal Services will be known as a federal program plagued with unaccountability and controversy." The bill died.
Environmental pressure group Ceres, whose primary activity is to drive corporations to report their greenhouse gas emitting activities and disclose climate risk in their Securities and Exchange Commission filings, recently released a report that outlines exactly what companies should be disclosing.
Wisconsin Senate Democrats can come out of hiding. Yesterday evening, an all-Republican Senate passed by an 18-1 margin a plan by GOP Governor Scott Walker to restrict public-sector union bargaining rights. The bill, stalled by Democrats who fled the state to block a mandatory quorum, today went to the GOP-controlled Assembly, which approved the measure a few hours ago by 53-42.
Last week, the Volt, GM's signature hybrid vehicle, turned in a lackluster performance in its first series of road tests by Consumer Reports. CR told Reuters on Monday that "when you look at the finances, [the Volt] doesn't make any sense." The publication went on to note that the Volt was "not particularly efficient as an electric vehicle and not particularly good as a gas vehicle... This is going to be a tough sell to the average consumer."
Famed investor Warren Buffett once said, "If you have to have a prayer session before raising prices by ten percent, then you've got a terrible business." So, what does it mean if your business is slashing prices month over month through discounts and other incentives? Take a look at this graph.