Frtiz Henderson CEO of General Motors made the rounds today announcing the new restructuring plan of GM. He describe it as aggressive and they will come out leaner. He said the new restructure has 3 points:
1. they had to introduce a business plan that’s more stable and viable
2. they had to accelerate the Feb 17th restructuring plan due to the mandate placed on them by the treasury department
3. they had to strengthen their balance sheet; bond restructure; and have a solid plan for future investments
They will be getting rid of 4 brands: Hummer, Saab, and Saturn which will be completely phased out by the end of 2009; Pontiac will be over by 2010. He also announced an accelerated and larger plant closure from the former 47 to a 27 plants left in North America.
They want a break even mark at 10 million units, previously the break even was at 11.4 million units, but the treasury department did not agree with that. This is the 3rd restructuring plan. GM CEO says this is the final plan. It will focus on 4 core brands, giving up pontiac in the process. Pontiac has a history with the company as the muscle car and accounts for 10% of sales and profits. They think this restructure is more aggressive. They have until June 1 to comply with treasury mandates. The harshest part of the restructure comes at the expense of bond holders, who now hold 27 billion dollars in bonds. He wants to eliminate 24 billion dollars of that and they would only get a 10% equity stake. However, the UAW through viva payment would eliminate 20 billion dollars but get a 80% equity stake in the company, but only decrease 21,000 jobs. The treasury told them they would not support a recovery to bond holders over 10%.
The decision on the 4 core brands to remain, centered on fleet sales not regular consumer sales. They think they can maintain market share with the 4 core brands. They want to 3600 dealerships over the next 5 years. However, they can’t just tell dealerships, which are private companies to close. Franchise laws prevent a company from nixing a dealership. They are in place to protect the dealer. However, experts say GM is grossly over subscribed and has been for decades.
This is not a bankruptcy at all. They are simply caving into the treasury department and will not go to bankruptcy court. The bond holders can take them to bankruptcy court if they don’t like the 10% equity stake and devaluing their 27 billion dollars down to nearly under 10% of its value. At 27 billion dollars I don’t see how GM can avoid going to bankruptcy court over this.
I got the sense from reading the CEO’s face that this entire deal is simply to save his skin. Everyone agrees that GM needs to go to bankruptcy court and completely restructure the company, including the union contracts. The unions in this case are the ones making the company completely unprofitable. The obligations to the union are staggering. And, the company cannot move into new technologies in the automobile industry. Even under this proposed restructure they are not going to retool any of their remaining 27 plants.
A lot of people are being hoodwinked and led down a path that if fraught with danger and bad times ahead. I’m counting an extra $10 trillion introduced into the economy since 2007. [I’m counting both the very open bailouts and the under the table cash infusions by the federal reserve bank, which Ben Bernanke says he doesn’t have to disclose to congress] The problem is the politicians are talking about economics, a subject most adults in America know nothing about, and they sound logical and reasonable about.
” the problem is credit has stagnated and we wish to avoid credit from being unavailable to the general public. We need to get banks lending money, but they can’t since they have so many toxic assets on their books and if they lend more money they will be far more overleveraged and they refuse to do it. If we infuse the banks with cash and lower interest rates, then you the general public will continue to be able to purchase cars and homes and big screen t.v.s and our economy is based on consumer spending.”
If the economy indeed is based on consumer spending, then 1. freeing up credit markets will allow me to make purchases / loans at a reasonable level 2. lowering interest rates are in my best interest so I don’t have to pay for a house at a high interest rate 3. infusion of cash to banks allow them to lend me money.
The problem is, this entire premise, is completely false, a lie and evil. Why do i say evil? If they are trying to convince you that our economy is based on consumer spending, then they are then allowed, BY YOU, to do whatever they need to free up lending so that you can continue to consume, at all costs, including devaluing your money. Also, if that’s the case, then the value of your dollar NEVER matters. For idiots that don’t understand, if you buy the notion that our economy is based on consumer spending then, if you have $1,000 in the bank, they can inflate the economy so you have only $500 effective buying power, because all prices have risen.
This means that no work you do; no matter what improvements your boss makes; no discoveries in efficiency to lower production costs will have any impact on the economy because they can wipe all that ingenuity away by inflating the economy overnight. If you understood that sentence , then my explanation about the Austrian Business Cycle will be easy. Reread that sentence and understand it and we can move forward.
How does your salary increase? Most Keynesian economist would say “pay me more money“. It’s a very ignorant statement to make and I’ll explain why shortly. To this end Keynesian economist say, to increase the amount of money people have, we need to raise the minimum wage. [since they can’t control other wages directly] Keynesian economist think that if you increase minimum wages then the workers can buy more, since they make more. You sitting at home immediately probably already figured out if you raise the minimum wage, a lot of people are going to be fired, so that the ones left can be paid more, OR if they pay the workers more, they increase the prices. So raising the minimum wage completely is thwarted by raising prices. If everyone raises their prices, the minimum wage raise buys less and you have a zero sum gain.
How should wages be increased? I’ve already alluded to it right in the last paragraph but I’ll point it out blatantly. You don’t get paid more money, what happens is, we become better at what we do. What does that mean? You do your same job. You get paid the same salary. Your boss however, makes improvements to the company to make your job easier, so you spend less time doing more. The store owner buys in larger bulk and gets a larger price cut per item. He then, lowers the price of goods. People discover new innovations to make your job even more efficient, so you spend less time doing the same tasks. Therefore you can do more stuff in the same amount of time, because each task is now easier to do. Your boss can now lower prices because each item is cheaper to produce.
So far, the store owner lowered prices, your boss lowered prices, and production lowered prices. Check this out. You make the same amount of money you did yesterday, but ALL PRICES OF GOODS AND SERVICES HAVE BEEN LOWERED, so your salary can buy much more.
If the system is left alone, these innovations can occur all the time and prices can be lowered and lowered. A house would take far less to produce and should cost less today than it did 10 years ago. And, because all other goods and services were lowered, you would be able to purchase a much larger house today, than you could before.
Next, let’s visit credit, because I talked about it above. Let’s think about my perfect scenario, but with banks now. Because your salary can now go further, let’s assume you don’t feel a dieing need to spend every last dime you have. You go and open a savings account, so does your neighbor, your pastor and your cousin. After several years all of you have nice lump sums in the bank. The bank says,
“oh my we have quite a bit of money in the bank. you know what we can make lots of money if we lent to more people, let’s lower interest rates.” So the bank lowers interest rates. The store owner sees interest rates go down and thinks, people have more money to spend, and interest rates are lower, let me go take a loan and expand my business. So he does. One day you walk by and now your local store has groceries and a barbershop with an old fashion shave by razor. You then decide to stop by every week and get a nice shave and haircut while you shop. The store owner pays back his loan and the bank makes money. Because of all these shaves you and your cousin have been getting, your bank accounts have gone down by half. The bank raises interest rates and less people take out loans. And, life goes on.
Are you getting angry yet? Is the light coming on? Are you putting 2 and 2 together? Yes, let’s go back the Keynesian economists? They think the government has to oversea you, and your boss and the store owner. If the store owner says, “oh no I bought to much corn meal, I’m going to lose my shirt over this” they say no problem, we’ll infuse cash to you, so you don’t lose your shirt. They just stopped all the progress you, your boss, and production have been making, because prices are now inflated. In essence, they stole from you. They also lower interest rates artificially. Then the store owner is confused and thinks he should take out a loan and expand his business. However, you and your boss don’t make what you should be making due to the new inflation. You stop by the shop and shake your head when you see the new addition, because you don’t have the money for it. After about 6 months to a year, the store owner goes completely out of business because he can’t pay back that loan he took out because no one gets haircuts and shaves.
Which brings me to the Austrian Business Cycle.
“The theory views business cycles (which they also call credit cycles) as the inevitable consequence of inherently damaging and ineffective central bank policies, which cause interest rates to remain too low for too long, resulting in excessive credit creation, speculative economic bubbles and lowered savings. According to the theory, the business cycle unfolds in the following way. Low interest rates tend to stimulate borrowing from the banking system. This expansion of credit causes an expansion of the supply of money, through the money creation process in a fractional reserve banking system. This in turn leads to an unsustainable boom during which the artificially stimulated borrowing seeks out diminishing investment opportunities. This boom results in widespread malinvestments, causing capital resources to be misallocated into areas that would not attract investment if the money supply remained stable. A correction or “credit crunch” – commonly called a “recession” or “bust” – occurs when credit creation cannot be sustained. Then the money supply suddenly and sharply contracts when markets finally “clear”, causing resources to be reallocated back towards more efficient uses.The theory proposes that a sustained period of low interest rates and excessive credit creation results in a volatile and unstable imbalance between saving and investment.”
The boom comes from The Federal Reserve lowering interests rates [not because the banks have a lot of people who have large savings accounts] and business owners start a building frenzy or opening new businesses or whatever the latest fad is. The bubble is created because all these people are put to work, that didn’t work before. There’s all this money infused into something that wasn’t at the same volume before.
The burst comes from when you, YEAH YOU, don’t go out and buy these widgets from them. Why? Because you never said you wanted them in the first place. And, you never said you wanted them at twice the price. Did you?
So what’s the answer? First we need to do away with the entire federal reserve structure and dismantle all of their banks in America. We do not need a central bank dictating to everyone, including non-business people, such as yourself, by taking your savings away from you. We need to reduce regulation on businesses. It’s just taxes that takes away buying power from businesses. The only regulation we need from the government, is protecting your constitutional rights, and protecting you from being gouged economically. We need to go on a gold standard so this entire process can never occur again. On a gold standard you, your pastor, your neighbor and your boss all can rely on what a dollar is today and tomorrow. On a gold standard, if you put money in a savings account, the government can’t come steal it. On a gold standard, although your salary won’t increase, your dollar will increase due to the price of gold increasing. We were just on the gold standard all the way up until 1971 when Richard Nixon, by himself, took us off the gold standard. [wasn’t he a great guy?] On a gold standard a bank can gouge you either.
Jackie Chan is in the news. He made comments that he personally believed. Supposedly there is going to be some backlash from it, but… I don’t see who could be influential enough and take offense to the comments that Jackie Chan would care. At some point we need to stop getting offended because people are speaking their mind. Why are we putting microphones into people’s faces that realistically mean nothing to us, other than they are a curiosity for our entertainment. Actors, basketball players, singers, these people are not role models, they are entertainment. When these media icons say stuff we need to take it with a grain of salt. I know that they can make insane amounts of money from endorsements, but if we as parents or a society actually base any life decisions on what an actor or basketball player says, we need to go commit suicide post haste.
[ I’d like to point out in the AP news report they say the “Chinese race”. Why are we still paying attention to the media when they are so ignorant as to call Chinese a race? ]
HONG KONG – Jackie Chan’s comments that freedom may not be good for China were taken out of context, his spokesman said Tuesday, while Facebook users and Chinese scholars condemned the veteran actor on the Internet in a spreading backlash.
The 55-year-old star of the ” Rush Hour ” action films caused a huge uproar after he told a business forum on Saturday that it may not be good for authoritarian China to become a free society .
“I’m not sure if it’s good to have freedom or not,” Chan said Saturday, adding freedoms in his native Hong Kong and Taiwan made those societies “chaotic.” Taiwan, which split from China in 1949, is democratic and Hong Kong , a separately ruled Chinese territory, enjoys some free elections.
“I’m gradually beginning to feel that we Chinese need to be controlled. If we’re not being controlled, we’ll just do what we want,” he said.
Hong Kong and Taiwanese legislators lashed out at the comments, with some accusing Chan of insulting the Chinese race.
Solon So, the chief executive of Chan’s company JC Group and his main spokesman, told The Associated Press in a phone interview Tuesday the actor was referring to freedom in the entertainment industry and not Chinese society at large.
Chan was speaking at a panel discussion about Asian entertainment industries and was asked to discuss movie censorship in China.
“Some people with ulterior motives deliberately misinterpreted what he was saying,” So said.
Meanwhile, the public backlash against Chan grew.
A group of Chinese scholars published a letter on the Internet on Monday accusing Chan of “not understanding how precious freedom is,” even though “free Hong Kong provided the conditions for you to become an international action star.”
A Facebook group set up by Hong Kong users calling for Chan to be exiled to North Korea had drawn more than 2,600 members by Tuesday. The group also posted form letters urging Hong Kong’s Baptist University and Academy for Performing Arts to strip Chan of honorary degrees they gave the actor.
The Hong Kong Tourism Board , for which Chan serves as an ambassador, had received 17 complaints as of Monday that his comments “hurt the image of Hong Kong and aren’t reflective of Hong Kong people ,” a publicist said. She declined to give her name because of company policy.
Opposition Taiwanese politicians on Monday demanded that the city government of Taipei strip Chan of his role as ambassador of the Deaf Olympic Games to be held in the Taiwanese capital in September.
THIS IS HOW LIBERTY DIES, WITH THUNDEROUS APPLAUSE!
In the end the crux of his speech centered around one word: government, Government, GOVERNMENT! Of course he promised hope for the economic future; investment in our education; getting green jobs; free health care for everyone; and university tuition relief [which was met with thunderous applause at the university]
The constitution is clearly dead. Due to the actions the congress has recently taken, Obama assumes in his speech that government should be the ultimate authority for the private sector. Many times he alluded to the totally assumed fact that government should be the ultimate authority when it comes to determining fair wages, bank lending, lines of credit, investments for renewable resources. At no point did he ever mention that he would be taking a backseat and applauding the private sector for taking initiative, without government intervention.
– On entitlement: the largest expenditure admittedly in the governmental budgeting, proposes entitlement reform supposedly but then he turned around and pushed for universal health care reform, not real entitlement reform. In fact he was so dastardly that he said he would push for universal socialized health care reform this year.
– On financial planing: Again he totally assumed that government should oversee retirement. [ I am not making this up ]
– On military spending: He went off on a tangent about a suggestion made about military overspending. He then went into rhetoric about how we have spent so much in military spending and are yet “no closer to be safer”. However, he did not mention removing troops from any foreign soil, the single most largest expenditure in the governmental budget.
At one point Obama quotes the scripture of the Wise man that build his house on Rock instead of sand, but then equates it to complete government oversight, trouncing the constitution in the meantime. He said it only to put forth the idea that the government will NEVER AGAIN allow this crisis to happen. This completely ignores the business cycle. In fact most economist has state [who are not kenesian whack jobs] that there never was a crisis. Corporate bailouts of wall street commercial banks is not a proper indicator of a nationwide economic crisis. Housing ARM mortgage rate adjustments for individuals who were over leveraged is not a proper indicator of nationwide economic crisis.
The final straw was when he was again stepping all over the constitution and taking the lead from congress recent bill passage which specifically taxed wall street executive who took bailout money at 95% on their bonuses, in direct contravention of the constitution…. I mean he says it right in the constitution “thou shall not pass taxes targeting specific people”. *sigh* Obama said “we will implement rules that makes sure you get paid the correct amount for work that you have done” …….. since when did the government dictate salaries? This congress is out of control and this presidency is not far behind it. Bush laid the foundation for this debacle.
We’re in a crisis alright. A crisis of the constitution going under and government taking over all of our civil liberties. It won’t be long now that the gestapo will be goose stepping down the street demanding to see how much you make and how long you worked. It won’t be long now that you’ll receive your weekly stipend from the government and the rest will be set aside for retirement and non existant social security and medicare. It won’t be long now that the government will seize your bank and tell them they are paying their sales people too much in commission checks and that they are outselling their nearest competitor. It won’t be long now that the police will knock on your door and demand to see your guns and ransack your house for contraband. [they already do it to poor Black people I know, just kidding]
The S.E.C. announces the reimplementation of the uptick rule. The uptick rule had been in place for over 70 years. It was removed two years ago in 2007. At the time everyone was amiss as to why the rule was removed. But, now the indication is that they want to implement it, to punish or get rid of naked short sellers, or short sellers in general. commission chairman Mary Schapiro says she’s feeling the heat from investors, exchanges and companies about short sellers. The staff are discussing five different short selling proposals, two versions of the uptick rule was discussed. There will be a period for them to vent the discussion amongst investors to get feedback on the rule. They unanimously decided to put them out for public comments up for 60 days.
The uptick rule was implemented back in 1929 along with the rule to separate investment banks from commercial banks. The bank rule was dismantled in 1999 and the uptick rule was taken away 2 years ago. It is very telling that both these rules, along with others were removed and here we are back in a position similar to 1929.
Discussion on MSNBC pointed out that credit default swaps will do the same thing as short selling anyway, so the uptick rule will not do anything to circumvent or punish short selling in general. They think that the uptick rule will restore confidence, if nothing else for psychological peace of mind. But, you can connect a credit default swap, with out of the money puts, and then short without the uptick and drive the stock down. So the credit default swaps, synthetics, derivatives, exchange traded funds which are all forms of shorting. Clearly this uptick rule is not the magic bullet, but it will be for the S.E.C. to decide along with the investors they listen to.
Lehman was called when they were bubbled up. AIG was called well before it was even thought to be falling. Shorters serve a purpose just as traders do.
To Detarp or Not Detarp
The treasury department is refusing large banks to pay back their tarp money. Some of the major banks have asked to de-tarp themselves. There is some debate if the government would accept it. They think that if one of the large banks paid their Tarp money back, the other ones would feel pressured to pay back theirs.
The debate is if they pay it back and come back six months later, we are in the same position as we were before. The rational issue then is should we let them fail if they pay the money back and then come back six months later. If not you there goes the government inflating to running companies even more so. We would have the government firing CEOs, guaranteeing lube jobs for your car from GM, handing out toasters at the local bank. It’s as if America is sleeping and the government is in fact become a George Orwellian big brother.
Indianapolis v. Edmond, No. 99-1030 (decided Nov. 28, 2000)
Drug Roadblocks: Are they unreasonable searches and seizures?
The Supreme Court previously has upheld roadblocks to check for the presence of illegal aliens (United States v. Martinez-Fuerte ) and to check for signs of impaired driving (Michigan Dept. of State Police v. Sitz ). In Indianapolis v. Edmond, the Court was asked to look at the use of police roadblocks for the purpose of interdicting drugs.
The Case The case arose when the city of Indianapolis, Indiana, began setting up roadblocks on the highways to stop a predetermined number of vehicles. The officers at these roadblocks would ask for a driver’s license and registration and then explain to the driver that he or she had been stopped at a drug checkpoint. The police looked for signs of driver impairment and then visually inspected the outside of the vehicle.
What made these roadblocks different from others that the Supreme Court has looked at in the past is that the city’s (written) roadblock policy also emphasized that “a drug detection dog will walk around and examine every vehicle stopped at the checkpoint.” If a dog “alerted,” the police would then have sufficient probable cause to search the vehicle.
Some drivers in the Indianapolis area asked the courts to stop these roadblocks.
The Decision The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in favor of the drivers and against the city of Indianapolis.
“Because the primary purpose of the Indianapolis checkpoint program is ultimately indistinguishable from the general interest in crime control, the checkpoints violate the Fourth Amendment” protection against unreasonable searches, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote for the majority.
Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, dissented. The drug roadblocks only involved a “minimal intrusion on the privacy” of the occupants of the vehicles, Rehnquist said.
One of the most intriguing opinions, however, was written by Justice Thomas, who wrote separately to say that although he agreed with the chief justice that the roadblocks had to be upheld under the Court’s precedents, he would be willing to consider overruling those precedents. Taken together, Justice Thomas said: “[O]ur decisions in Michigan Dept. of State Police v. Sitz, 496 U. S. 444 (1990), and United States v. Martinez-Fuerte, 428 U. S. 543 (1976), stand for the proposition that suspicionless roadblock seizures are constitutionally permissible if conducted according to a plan that limits the discretion of the officers conducting the stops. I am not convinced that Sitz and Martinez-Fuerte were correctly decided. Indeed, I rather doubt that the Framers of the Fourth Amendment would have considered ‘reasonable’ a program of indiscriminate stops of individuals not suspected of wrongdoing.
“Respondents did not, however, advocate the overruling of Sitz and Martinez-Fuerte, and I am reluctant to consider such a step without the benefit of briefing and argument. For the reasons given by The Chief Justice, I believe that those cases compel upholding the program at issue here. I, therefore, join his opinion.”
As the Seventh Circuit before it, the Supreme Court in this case reasoned that even though some roadblocks had been allowed in previous cases, the drug roadblocks in this case violated the Fourth Amendment.
The Court said that it agreed with the Seventh Circuit that whether a particular roadblock policy is constitutional depends on the “primary purpose” of the checkpoint program. It said that if the program’s primary purpose is to detect evidence of “ordinary criminal wrongdoing,” the Court will strike it down as unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment rule that a search or seizure is generally unreasonable absent individualized suspicion of wrongdoing.
If the Indianapolis roadblocks were unconstitutional because they were designed primarily to uncover general criminal activity, why were the roadblocks that the Court upheld in previous cases treated differently? The Court explained that each of those roadblocks was permissible because they had a different purpose:
I’m not defending Obama today. However, I’m not so naive that I can’t see what is going on. Today I will review the first 90 days.
It amazes me that people are so shocked that Obama gets into office and all of a sudden it’s politics as usual. I am neither saddened by his actions so far, nor am i angered by his policies so far.
I have a political science degree. So I am very aware of everything that is going on. And, lets discuss this.
Everyone is so upset by the bailouts. But, for every 2 people upset about the bailouts there is 1 person that is thankful for them. You have to understand that the millions of Americans that are talking about “let them fail” do not think about the 30,000, 100,000 or million of employees of these companies that would be out of work. So when these giant companies come to Washington, this is what Obama is looking at. It is very easy to sit back and armchair quarterback this mess, but it’s a totally different story when a union 2 million strong comes through the door with the company president and they both beg for help. It would take a nearly omniscient being to wade through this, and not have millions of people hurt.
Is that bad to think about those people? No. However, I’m pointing out the difficulties involved in this. We give away millions upon millions of dollars every year to foreign countries. JUST GIVE IT AWAY! as “aide”. People complain about that under their breath, but no one speaks up. All the American lobbyist who go to Washington for those countries, waddle right up to capitol hill for their clients. Now the shoe is on the other foot. However, no one is speaking for the people directly. What are my hopes?
I would hope that Obama would be so charismatic that He didn’t have to be beholden to all these screaming memes around him. Can you imagine if he had given 10 trillion dollars directly to us? That would have boosted the economy. Inflation would have skyrocketed overnight, but at least it would save our economy. As it stands now, we don’t see the benefit and we still get the inflation. Sadly.
Is Obama doing a good or bad job? He’s the president. He’s the wizard behind the curtain. What can he do?
Ok understand this is politics. It’s not as simple as black and white.
He has to answer to people
He has to gain / call / demand political favors
He has moochers
He has blackmailers [no pun intended]
all of these factors go into every single word he speaks, and every single agreement / document he signs.
Talk about a walking target. This guy, unlike GHW and GW, is a newcomer and has to climb the ladder before throwing his weight.
Note i’m not defending Obama or anyone. Just want everyone to realize this is politics. Yes we Americans want something, but capitol hill is a rat race unlike any other on the planet. It’s sad, but true. Listen to Peter Schiff and rely on yourselves. I’m proud of Obama as a black man. I’m sad about and for Obama as a Political scientist. But as a political scientist I understand the wizard behind the curtain.