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11/06/2013 - 02:00

Blink chargerAfter an Inspector General’s audit earlier this year of now-bankrupt electric vehicle charging company Ecotality, which determined that millions of taxpayer dollars were wasted in a nearly unworkable program, the IG has returned with findings that the Department of Energy withheld information about the project’s problems during his first investigation.

The audit, released by DOE IG Gregory Friedman in July, determined (among other things) that the persistent weak demand for electric vehicles harmed the deployment and timeliness of a $135 million-plus taxpayer funded charging network, which led to excessive grants and project expansion that became virtually unusable under the grants’ guidelines. Investigators discovered that conditions for reimbursement to Ecotality for the EV charging demonstration project were “very generous” and that cost-sharing requirements were extremely lenient.

2,762 reads
11/05/2013 - 10:20

Volt and AkersonGeneral Motors had another disappointing month of sales for its much-hyped green wonder-car in October. Sales for the Chevy Volt plunged over 31 percent from last year, down to 2,022 units for the month. To put that number in perspective, Toyota sells that many Toyota Camrys in about two days. Or, GM is selling less than one Volt per Chevy dealership per month.

3,526 reads
11/04/2013 - 12:34

Obama SwobodaEntrepreneurs in industries tied to the energy efficiency gambit, justified by the climate change House of Cards, all have the same false bravado: they are “game changers” and “market leaders” (for products nobody wants); all their squandered revenues are “investments;” their technological breakthroughs are always “just around the corner;” and it just takes one more round of mandates/grants/loans/tax breaks to achieve viability in the free market.

2,980 reads
10/30/2013 - 14:22

Tesla fireTesla’s once-Teflon Tony Stark Elon Musk, the adored Paypal/SpaceX/electric-car innovator who’s been showered with unmitigated media praise and highly inflated stock values, has another lithium ion battery fire to explain.

This one happened after a Model S crash in Mexico. The last one happened less than a month ago in Kent, Wash. Since then Tesla’s share price has fallen from $193.90 on Sept. 30 to $160.58 this afternoon. The irrational exuberance that made the electric automaker the darling of Wall Street has now become merely excitable, although still unjustifiably so. Even Musk himself told Bloomberg last week, “The stock price that we have is more than we have any right to deserve.”

2,582 reads
10/29/2013 - 14:36

Day laborersOrganized labor doesn't waste too many opportunities when it comes to promoting illegal immigration. For over a dozen years, in fact, the AFL-CIO has made it official policy to support the granting of amnesty to persons living illegally here. But with the House of Representatives unlikely to follow the Senate's lead in passing immigration amnesty/surge legislation, unions are drawing ever closer to "day laborer" radical nonprofit groups in hopes of persuading legislators to come around. The best-known of these is the Los Angeles-based National Day Laborer Organizing Network, or NDLON.

2,470 reads
Ken Boehm
10/29/2013 - 11:43

Piggy bankLast month, I wrote about pressure on state pension funds, many of which are underfunded and are facing immense pressure to chase higher returns. I profiled a $125 million investment made by the New Mexico Educational Retirement Board (NMERB) into Gramercy, a Connecticut-based hedge fund.

As we showed last month, there were some gaps between what Gramercy disclosed to NMERB and what we found in official records. Now Gramercy is making big news as a potential facilitator of a settlement between Argentina and holdout creditors.  According to news reports, Gramercy and other bondholders who took Argentina's 2010 bond exchange are pushing a settlement.

2,107 reads
10/28/2013 - 12:12

solar panelsIt may be the height of irony that a company that was supposed to soar to the top of the new clean energy economy, with the help of U.S. taxpayers to undergird President Obama’s stimulus visions, has instead left both an environmental and financial mess after its demise.

Yet that’s exactly the case with miserable failure Abound Solar, which the president’s Department of Energy thought so much of, they awarded it a $400 million loan guarantee. That proposition quickly soured and the government halted payouts after about $70 million. The company went bankrupt in June 2012, leaving taxpayers out between $40 million and $60 million that was never recovered.

3,935 reads
10/28/2013 - 10:41

Chevy pickupThe past month has brought much confusion and concern for General Motors' shareholders regarding the most important and profitable segment of sales for the company. As the company prepares to report earnings for the third quarter this week, media reports are still unclear on just what is going on with GM's new truck lineup; specifically pertaining to the reasons behind the disappointing sales figures that were reported for the month of September when Ford's truck offerings left them in the dust.

2,312 reads
10/23/2013 - 10:45

Melgen and MenendezAs the Palm Beach Post reports, the offices of Dr. Salomon Melgen were yesterday again raided by the FBI, evidencing an ongoing investigation into what appears to be Medicare fraud. Melgen is the largest campaign donor of Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ). In 2012, he contributed $700,000 to a super PAC affiliated with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) that spent the bulk of the funds for Menendez' re-election.

The Post notes that Menendez went to bat for Melgen on a port security deal in the Dominican Republic. These actions on Melgen's behalf were first reported by the New York Times on February 1, 2013, based on information provided by NLPC. The Washington Post reported in March that Menendez' advocacy on behalf of Melgen is the subject of a grand jury investigation in Miami.

1,811 reads
10/22/2013 - 11:28

Mike Duke photoLast week it was Walmart CEO Mike Duke’s duty to find an explanation for continuing declines in same store sales, as the company hosted its 20th Annual Meeting for the Investment Community on Tuesday.

Despite the fact that the most recent quarterly report ended in July and brought a surprising (to analysts) .3 percent drop for the second quarter, when a one percent gain was expected, Duke cited the two-week old government shutdown and a “tough and unpredictable global economy” as reasons for the poor performance.

2,054 reads
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