Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Say Goodbye to Nickelodeon, MTV, and Comedy Central for Time Warner

There seems to be some kind of dispute between Time Warner and Viacom over carriage fees.

Viacom has asked for fee increases of between 22 percent and 36 percent per channel, or a total of $39 million more, an amount that could increase customers' cable bills, said Time Warner Cable spokesman Alex Dudley.

"The issue is that they have asked for an exorbitant increase in their carriage fees and their network ratings are sagging," Dudley said. "Basically we're trying to hold the line for our customer."

Viacom spokeswoman Kelly McAndrew disputed the figure, saying Viacom requested an increase in the very low double-digit percentage range.

So bottom line is that if Viacom and Time Warner can't be in some kind of agreement then it might be time to switch to Hulu for your Daily Show and Colbert Report fix. I have been doing that for a while but I think more Americans might take the plunge if this thing drags out for a while.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Cohen Injects the Iraq War Into Bush's Reading List

It seems that Bush isn't the dummy that the press has made him out to be. The press, however, doesn't seem especially happy about that fact.

It is awfully late in the day for Rove -- and, presumably, Bush -- to assert the president's intellectual bona fides. Now feeling the hot breath of history, they are dropping the good ol' boy persona and picking up the ol' bifocals one. But the books themselves reveal -- actually, confirm -- something about Bush that maybe Rove did not intend. They are not the reading of a widely read man, but instead the books of a man who seeks -- and sees -- vindication in every page. Bush has always been the captive of fixed ideas. His books just support that.

The list Rove provides is long, but it is narrow. It lacks whole shelves of books on how and why the Iraq war was a mistake, one that metastasized into a debacle. Absent is Rajiv Chandrasekaran's "Imperial Life in the Emerald City," Tom Ricks's "Fiasco," George Packer's "The Assassins' Gate" or, on a related topic, Jane Mayer's "The Dark Side" about "extraordinary rendition" and other riffs on the Constitution. Absent too is Barton Gellman's "Angler," about Dick Cheney, the waterboarder in chief.

Why the hell would Bush want to read some book called Fiasco about his handling of the Iraq War. I mean he is probably aware that the Reconstruction period is Iraq was bungled and why does he need some guy named Tom Ricks to tell him that. I mean Bush read the daily reports and was privy to the Top Secret stuff that a reporter like Ricks can only dream of. What good would it be to read some retread like that?

Also I don't understand how reading some liberal crap about the "failure" in Iraq will suddenly make a broad reader out of someone. I mean watching a Song for Ellah, Rendition, and Stop-Loss doesn't suddenly make a person into a broad movie watcher.

Cohen, however, could have suggested a nice list of books that Bush would have enjoyed upon looking at his book list. But instead he goes back to the "Iraq is a fiasco let's run away" attitude that infected the Left in 2006. Cohen also could have suggested some "progressive" books that Bush may have enjoyed. I don't know what that would be but I'm sure Cohen knows them. Instead he just dredges up the tired old "Iraq War is a Failure" pablum.

In any case it was cool to have a book that I read Vienna 1814 be on the Presidential Reading List. That book was very entertaining and really gave a nice overview about the "Concert of Vienna" that followed the Napoleonic Wars. Also it shows that Bill Clinton wasn't the only powerful man that got a little side action since just about everyone there had multiple mistresses sometimes at the same time. I hope that Bush enjoyed the book as much as I did.

Is Fatah Helping Israel Decimate Hamas?

Well it is according to this source.

I've been talking to friends of mine, former Palestinian Authority intelligence officials (ejected from power by the Hamas coup), and they tell me that not only are they rooting for the Israelis to decimate Hamas, but that Fatah has actually been assisting the Israelis with targeting information.

That sounds like a very sound plan if I was heading Fatah. All you have to do is condemn Israel so you don't lose street cred with the "Arab Street" but then you secretly help the IDF wipe out your hated enemy. I remember quite a bit of Fatah guys being murdered and tortured when Hamas seized Gaza. So this is Fatah's way of getting a measure of revenge for those atrocities and wiping out your rival at the same time. Sounds nice and Machiavellian.

Top 7 Political Blunders of 2008

I was reading this article and I have to agree with their number 1 blunder.

Here’s a man who had spent an entire year telling people that he was a financial conservative, that he wasn’t another George Bush, and that Barack Obama couldn’t handle a crisis.

So, an unpopular bailout comes up for consideration on Capitol Hill and McCain handles the crisis exactly the same way that Obama did, by signing on to George Bush’s $700 billion bailout deal that fiscal conservatives hated with a white hot passion.

In other words, in one fell swoop, John McCain managed to alienate conservatives, prove he really was “another Bush,” and show the American people that Obama could handle a crisis just as well as he could. It was an extraordinary blunder — one that literally may have been the deciding factor in the race for the presidency.

What was worse was when he suspended his campaign in order to go back to Capitol Hill and not do anything other then sit in that meeting with all of the Bailout people and then look serious for the camera. What he should have done is kept above the fray and just let events play out. The bill would have been passed whether he had been there or not. Then he could have just talked about how he would have done things differently if he were President.

Also I think the media parroting that McCain did not know too much about economic matters also hurt him when the crisis was economic. Obama doesn't know much more about the economy but you never had that soundbite of him admitting that. Also McCain not knowing how many houses he had is not such a good idea when people were losing their own houses in record numbers. In any case I think it might be very interestng to see the insiders write books in the next few years once more details of McCains campaign come to light.

RNC Chairman Candidate Sends Racist CD: Not so Fast!

I love how the MSM likes to blow this stuff up into something it is not by trying to inject race into everything.

The song came with 40 others on an album from conservative satirist Paul Shanklin, a personal friend of Saltsman. The song is a parody of a 2007 Los Angeles Times column of the same title and is written to the tune of “Puff the Magic Dragon.” “Barack the Magic Negro lives in D.C.” the opening of the song goes.

“The L.A. Times, they called him that ‘cause he’s not authentic like me. Yeah, the guy from the L.A. paper said he makes guilty whites feel good. They’ll vote for him, and not for me, ‘cause he’s not from the 'hood.”

This is 6 paragraphs into that Politico article. The explanation of what is on the CD should be in the second paragraph right after what the controversy is about. Instead they talk about how this Saltsman guy is sending this CD to the voters for the GOP party chairmanship and how it is helping him among Republicans instead of hurting him. It also give a bunch of GOP members reaction statements.

If you just see "Barack the Magic Negro" splashed up there you think that the GOP is forwarding racist stuff. But if you read the part that it is the actual title of a Los Angeles Times article then you see it in a totally different light. It is just a parody of an actual article and is not racist in the least. It just goes to show you how far the MSM goes to tar and feather the GOP.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Red Chinese Flex Their Naval Muscles

It seems that the Chinese are taking a wider role in protecting shipping from Somali Pirates.

The naval force that set sail from southern Hainan on Friday afternoon included a supply ship and two destroyers — armed with guided missiles, special forces and two helicopters. China announced it was joining the anti-piracy mission Tuesday after the U.N. Security Council authorized nations to conduct land and air attacks on pirate bases.

The US is applauding the move and are probably interested in seeing how the Chinese Blue Water navy is getting along. If you think about it this may be one of the first times that a major Chinese naval force has left their ports bound for Africa since the Great Armada of Zhang He.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Bank of General Motors?

Now things are getting stranger and stranger when it comes to financial news. GM just formed its lending arm into a bank holding company.

The Fed announced Wednesday that it had approved GMAC Financial Services' request to become a bank holding company. That designation makes GMAC eligible to receive a portion of the bailout fund and get emergency loans directly from the Fed.

Analysts had speculated that without financial help, GMAC would have had to file for bankruptcy protection or shut down, dealing a serious blow to GM's own chances for survival. The Fed cited "emergency conditions" in justifying its decision.

I guess you get a free tire rotation when you open a new checking account. In any case I will rather be banking with the Bank of Toyota or the First National Bank of Mercedes Benz since they will still have depositors 5 years from now. The Bank of GM is kind of iffy.

The Cause of the Recession: Sausages!

I love it when you can find an entire summary of a complicated issue in one paragraph that is suitable to put into a history book. Here is one for the subprime mortgage mess and the recession it caused.

Don't have enough money to buy that McMansion? No problem. Countrywide will give you a subprime loan. What do they care? They are just selling it to Bear Stearns or Lehman Brothers -- may they rest in peace -- where it can be wrapped up into a toxic sausage called a C.D.O. And once it's wrapped nice and tight, Moody's, Standard And Poor's or one of the other crooked ratings agencies will bless it with a pristine AAA rating so it can be sold to a European bank or some other sucker overseas stretching for a slightly better yield.

Yup a it can be summed just like this:

1. Homebuyer: "I want a McMansion in Florida or California!"

2. Countrywide: "Sure here's the money. No I don't need to see any paperwork or proof of anything at all. Go ahead and take it. In fact your home loan was approved in 60 seconds!"

3. Lehman Brothers: "Can I buy that loan off of you? I need it to make sausages (CDOs) with it and sell it to gullible folks for big profits."

4. Moody's: "That sausage is 100% grade-AAA. Its safe, wholesome, and tasty as well! Here is the bill for my services Mr. Lehman."

5. Foreign Bank: "I need another 1% yield in my portfolio to get my bonus. Moody's says that Lehman sausages are grade AAA so let's go with them. Also I know that US house prices have gone up every year since the 1950s. They must be a can't lose investment! I'll take 10 pallets worth of those sausages Mr. Lehman."

6. Homebuyer: " I owe $5000 on my mortgage NEXT MONTH? I can't afford that!"

*everything crumbles to dust*

So to sum it up this is what caused the "Great Recession of 2008:"

Harbinger Capital Partners to Limit Redemptions to 60-70%

It must suck if you were a hedge fund investor that is being told here is $0.70 on the $1.00 after you have already tanked for a 23% loss for the year. Also people have already pulled money out in record numbers:

The $10 billion Harbinger Capital Partners Master Fund tumbled 23 percent this year through November, after being up 43 percent as of June 30, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. New York-based Harbinger will put the fund’s private-equity holdings, about 15 investments, in a side-pocket, or segregated account, so they don’t have to be sold at distressed prices.

Now that is one volitile fund. It went from up 43% to down 23% in 6 months. So that is a 66% downward move since June. I wonder if some of this was because of the curbs on short selling or was it just a domino effect that was due to redemptions earlier in the year? They had to settle those redemptions and to do so they had to empty out all the winners. This sent the price of those winners rolling downward like an avelanch. At least Harbinger is letting people pull their money out.

Hedge-fund firms including Tudor Investment Corp. and Citadel Investment Group LLC have suspended all redemptions.

That means some big money investors will have chunks of their money frozen at a paper loss and they will be unable to touch it. I would hate to have money that I entrusted to a fund manager frozen in that fund at a big loss. Plus, alot of the leverage tricks that these funds used to make big money might be dead so the chances of getting your money back are even slimmer.

Madoff's Ponzi scheme Claims First Victim

It seems that the founder of a hedge fund called Access International Advisors Thierry Magon de La Villehuchet killed himself after trying his best to get his clients money back. The bad part is that it looks like Access put almost all its faith (and cash) on Madoff.

Access said in a Dec. 12 letter to clients that funds including its LUXALPHA SICAV-American Selection invested solely with Madoff’s eponymous investment firm. The fund had $1.4 billion in assets as of Nov. 17, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Access says it carries out “extensive” due diligence on the funds to which it allocates money, a process that can take as long as six months and cost $100,000. It also hires private investigators to run “extensive background checks” on fund managers, including searches on professional credentials, regulatory filings and bankruptcy, according to marketing documents dated September.

I guess Madoff fooled those private investigators and all of the checks and balances that Access was able to do. I think it might have been a good idea to diversify this fund since it would have resulted in people losing far less money then they did. Instead, La Villehuchet put all of his faith in Madoff and was strait-up robbed. That is why diversification is important whether you are a beginning investor or a billionaire hedge fund guy.

Afghan Troop Surge Might Be Too Late

It seems like there are some naysayers to the plan to double the amount of US troops in Afghanistan.

“We may have missed the golden moment there,” said Lawrence Korb, a former Pentagon official who has long advocated an increased U.S. focus on Afghanistan.

The tension between the short-run need for more muscle to thwart the Taliban and the long-term trap of becoming the latest in a long line of foreign intruders bogged down in Afghanistan forms the core of the dilemma confronting Obama.

The only problem I have with this statement is that the other foreign intruders were there to conquer Afghanistan and pretty much subjugate their people. The British and then the Soviets had designs on making the country part of their spheres of influence. So they were looked at as occupiers because they were there with the goal to actually occupy the country for an extended period of time.

The US on the other hand just want to build a lasting peace in the country and then leave. They know that they cannot do that with the Taliban in charge. So they are trying to buff up the Afghan army and have work together to crush the Taliban again.

I think the US may be one of the only foreign intruders to sit down with tribal leaders (instead of installing them by fiat) and work out some kind of agreement to defeat the Taliban and rebuild the country at the same time. So the US is trying to do some road and school construction, while protecting the population with Afghan help, and killing the Taliban at the same time. Kind of like a humanitarian organization with tanks. It worked in Iraq so it should be at least given a shot in Afghanistan as well.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Bush Pardons Hero of Israel

Bush is pretty light with the pardon pen but at least he honored this guy even though he died years ago. The guy wasn't even Jewish as well.

In the summer of 1948, Winters, a Protestant from Boston who exported produce, worked with others to transfer two converted B-17 "Flying Fortresses" to Israel's defense forces. He personally flew one of the aircraft from Miami to Czechoslovakia, where that plane and a third B-17 were retrofitted for use as bombers.

He was sentenced to 18 months in prison and a $5000 fine. But if he didn't get a chance to send those bombers then there probably wouldn't be an Israel today.

The Obama Media in 2008

I think these awards should be touted as the evidence that the "fairness" of the media was bought and sold in order to elect Obama.

Sean Hannity marks 2008 as the year journalism died. But it could just as easily be the year journalism felt a thrill going up its leg. That Chris Matthews announcement in February, that a Barack Obama speech caused him a mild ecstasy, represented the everyday “mainstream” media view. Reporters didn’t so much produce “news” during this election year as they tried to make a sale. Every story seemed to say “You know you want Obama.”

I really have no problem with MSNBC and CNN saying that they are liberal and Fox News saying that they are conservative right in their masthead. Then you can watch the channel and know that there will be a spin to their coverage.

I think journalistic integrity should just be ditched as a quaint echo of the 1950s. Kind of like Malt Shops and Davey Crockett hats. There is nothing wrong with opinion journalism as long as they don't pretent to be unbiased like CNNs John Roberts.

People Trapped on Ferris Wheel

It seemed people were stuck on that thing for 6 hours.

The Singapore Flyer stopped working after a short circuit in one of the wheel's motor drivers cut its power supply, a company spokeswoman said.

There were 173 people, including many tourists, trapped inside the huge tourist attraction.

Does it really take 6 hours to change a short circuited motor? I guess they didn't have an emergency backup source of power for such a massive ferris wheel. I guess this will get people to think twice before they get on one of these things.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Middle Eastern Internet Access Knocked Out

It sure is interesting that one cut undersea cable can knock out the internet access for 6 countries like that.

Internet access was largely knocked out for two days in at least six countries that were affected — Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Sudan and Yemen.

It is the second time this year that trans-Mediterranean cables to Europe have been severed. The earlier cut, in late January, was apparently caused by a ship's anchor.

Let's hope that the terrorists don't start using frogmen with arc welders to disrupt the Internet Access of their fellow Muslims.

Friday, December 19, 2008

5 Scenarios for Harnessing the Atom: 2008 Edition

Now this is a very interesting article on a possible nuclear powered future and how it will look. Remember the name of the game when it comes to nuclear power is that you do not want waste you have to dump under Yucca Mountain and you do not want to proliferate more bombs. Here are the 5 scenerios where these goals are possible. I hope new Energy Secretary Ken Salazar is taking notes. (I'm partial to the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors and the Fast Breeder Reactors in a closed fuel cycle myself.)

Five nominal scenarios based predominantly on specific reactor types:

• Advanced light water reactors (LWRs) and/or gas-cooled thermal reactors on a once through fuel cycle

In this scenario, LWRs and gas-cooled reactors such as the pebble bed reactors operate on a once-through fuel cycle through 2050 (as described in the MIT study) and also to the end of the century. The reactors will be fueled by low-enriched uranium. Spent fuel will be put directly into geological repositories.

• Actinide burning based on fast reactors

This is the vision of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP). Spent fuel fromLWRs and from a fleet of fast reactors will be reprocessed to separate plutonium andother transuranics (TRU – americium, curium, and neptunium). These will befabricated into fuel for fast reactors and will be fissioned in the fast reactors in several cycles, such that the plutonium and other TRU are eventually mostly burned away. The fission products will be put into geological repositories.

• Fast breeder reactors in a closed fuel cycle

We imagine, in equilibrium, a division of LWRs and fast breeders in roughly a 55-45 ratio, similar to that described in the MIT study. Spent fuel from both types of reactors will be reprocessed and the separated plutonium used to start-up and re-fuel the breeder reactors.

• Thorium fuel cycles

Several different thorium cycles are considered. In particular, we note the possibility of breakeven breeding in a molten salt reactor. While such a reactor requires enriched uranium (typically 20 % U-235) for startup, relatively little further supplies of enriched fuel are required during subsequent operation. The U-233 produced by neutron absorption in Th-232 is never separated from the fuel, and it is also denatured by the addition of U-238 which means that isotope separation would be required to obtain weapons-grade U-233. In addition, the isotope U-232, which has a high gamma-emitting daughter, is produced during reactor operation, thus furthercomplicating attempts to obtain weapons-usable U-233 from this cycle.

• Nuclear batteries in a hub-spoke configuration

At a central facility, reactors nominally in the range of 20-100 MWe would be fueled either with 20% uranium or plutonium, sealed, and then transported to countries deploying the reactors. The reactors would not need to be refueled during their core life, nominally 20 to 30 years, at the end of which time they would be sent back to the central facility, where the plutonium would be separated and re-fabricated into cores for the replacement reactors.

Obama Reaches out to Republican Leaders

Hmm maybe he is a new kind of politician.

President-elect Obama is waging a charm offensive on congressional Republicans. In recent days he has personally called at least a dozen ranking GOP members of committees he will need to work with next year.

The highly personal, hands-on approach marks a change for Obama, who has been described as self-contained and aloof and who, on the campaign trail, often seemed more comfortable speaking to large rallies than in intimate settings.

Republicans who spoke with Obama said that the president-elect has called them directly at various times during the day, clearly enunciating his name on voice mail as though they might somehow confuse him with someone else.

I think he wants to get as many people from the GOP on his side whenever he tries to fashion his agenda for the next 4 years. More and more I can see Obama setting himself up as the Democratic Reagan. I have to say that Obama might spell the end of "cage-match" politics as we know it.

Now the US Government is in the Auto Business

It looks like the US Government has just gone into the auto business as well.

Some $13.4 billion of the money will be available this month and next — $9.4 billion of it for General Motors Corp. and $4 billion for Chrysler LLC, two auto giants that have said they could be facing bankruptcy soon without government help. GM is slated to receive the remaining $4 billion in loans after more money is released from the financial rescue account. Ford Motor Co. says it doesn't need federal cash now but would be badly damaged if one or both of the other two went under.

So let's see, we now own an insurance company, several banks, 2 mortgage companies, and now 2 auto companies as well. Now all we have to do is nationalize GE or someone like that and we will become the Bizzaro Warren Buffett. Instead of buying great companies at cheap prices we are buying failed companies that have been run into the ground. Now it is the UAWs turn to buckle since there will be no more further money coming to the Big 3 no matter what happens.

The First Commercial Spaceport Will be in New Mexico

I guess we can look forward to a new era of Space Tourism. We no longer have to give millions to the Russian Space Agency and can finally keep that money at home. I'm sure they can use this site to launch satellites as well.

The FAA granted Spaceport America a license for vertical and horizontal space launches following an environmental impact study, according to the New Mexico Space Authority (NMSA).

"These two governmental approvals are the next steps along the road to a fully operational commercial spaceport," said NMSA Executive Director Steven Landeene.

"We are on track to begin construction in the first quarter of 2009, and have our facility completed as quickly as possible."

Thursday, December 18, 2008

South Koreans Go Nuts Over Trade Pact

Now this is a real two-fisted form of Democracy.

Thursday’s assault came after the opposition party had threatened to block the deal by force if necessary. Fearing an attack, members of the foreign affairs committee, under the control of the governing Grand National Party, had barricaded themselves inside the room as they met.

Here is the pic of the throw down. Yup those guys with suits are Korean Members of Parliament.

Bush Pushing for an "Orderly" Bankruptcy for GM

It seems that Bush might let GM go into some kind of targeted receivership or something instead of just writing them a check.

"Under normal circumstances, no question bankruptcy court is the best way to work through credit and debt and restructuring," he said during a speech and question-and-answer session at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington think tank. "These aren't normal circumstances. That's the problem."

The problem is whether people will still buy a car from GM if the government takes over and forces them to renegotiate their contracts with the UAW. They will be essentially buying a car from a government run auto company that is in receivership. I can see people still flying UAL when they were in bankruptcy since they only need the service that one time. Owning a car and getting it serviced is a whole different thing. Oh well, I took profits weeks ago so it is just a sideshow to me now.

Obama Courts Evangelicals with Pastor Rick Warren Invocation

I think Obama may just keep tacking toward that middle more and more. He also doesn't care very much about angering his base as well.

The selection of Pastor Rick Warren brought objections from gay rights advocates, who strongly supported Obama during the election campaign. The advocates are angry over Warren's backing of a California ballot initiative banning gay marriage. That measure was approved by voters last month.

But Obama told reporters in Chicago that America needs to "come together," even when there's disagreement on social issues. "That dialogue is part of what my campaign is all about," he said.

In other words an Evangelical pastor is welcome at Obama's inauguration even though he is anti-gay marriage like Obama is. I think this is a good sign that the Obama administration will walk the walk as well as talk the talk when it comes to opposing viewpoints. I think this Obama "Big Tent" mentality is a very positive thing. Perhaps Obama will usher in a new age of discourse that won't demonize the opposition.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Madoff a Big Democratic Contributor

It seems that billion dollar Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff was a huge Democratic contributor.

One of the largest recipients of Madoff largess was Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who received $39,000 from the family for his two Senate races. Bernard Madoff has given an additional $100,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee since Schumer took its helm in 2005.

Yup Chuck Schumer was had some campaign funds that came from a guy that ripped off banks and pension funds to the tune of billions. The MSM is quiet of this fact again.

Apple Cancels MacWorld

It is a sad day for Mac lovers and it seems Jobs won't be at the final MacWorld as well.

Apple shares fell to $91.85 in premarket trading from their Nasdaq close of $95.43. Late Tuesday the company said that a product marketing executive would deliver the opening keynote for its annual Macworld show in January instead of Jobs.
Apple also said the show would be its last Macworld.

I guess Apple just ran out of new ideas now and has to go back to the drawing board. The bad part is that Jobs might be sick and if he dies then who knows what happens. I wonder if there are some talented people at Apple waiting in the wings? Jobs really needs to introduce his protege to reduce the chance of a 30+ point drop in the stock if he dies.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

More Obama Infrastructure Plays: Vulcan Looks Good

Here is another group of smaller cap plays on any infrastructure spending in the next stimulus bill that should be coming out in January.

Last week President-elect Barack Obama proposed a massive infrastructure spending plan that might limit the current depth of the recession. The plan, which is expected to be dedicated to rebuilding roads, bridges, schools, electrical grids and dams, would be “sizeable, substantial, and sustained” in its length and scope.

Another stock I have been researching is Vulcan Materials (VMC) which is a company based in Alabama that makes aggregates and cement products. They seem to have about 1/3 of the revenue of Cemex (CX) but are actually growing their revenue quarter to quarter. I also notice that Vulcan seems less tied to the slowing Mexican and European construction market then Cemex currently is. Also Vulcan has a nice little 2.9% dividend yield to fall back on when you are waiting for the orders to come in.

The only problem I see is that both companies are pretty well weighted down with debt with Vulcan taking on a big load to acquire Florida Rock Ind. in 2007. While Cemex seems to be trying to refinance $6 billion in debt that is coming due in 2009. It seems Cemex bought out Rinker which is an aggregate, and building materials maker from Australia right when the US construction market seemed to fall apart.

In any case I think rebuilding roads, bridges, schools, and dams will need tons and tons of aggregate and cement and there should be more then enough new business for both companies. I guess it is just the case of going with a better balance sheet with Vulcan or getting a discounted stock due to the debt refinance problems at Cemex.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Early Adopters for Electric Vehicles to be Utilities

Now this seems like it would be the first big market that the Big 3 can target. I mean the increase in electricity use will move the money used for fuel from the oil industry to the utility industry.

The idea being considered would involve joining together to put in a substantial order to put weight behind development of Plug In Hybrids (PHEVs) and electric vehicles (EVs). The idea is that large fleet orders would provide the certain market car makers need to make the initial move away from fossil fueled vehicles.

With their buying power (they could order 50,000 electric vehicles for their fleets) utilities could provide a solid beginning to switching Detroit to entirely new vehicle markets.

I think Obama could think about making the fleets for the Federal Government into electric cars as well. The utilities and the federal government could easily open up a large market that the Big 3 will hopefully get a chance to fill.

JP Morgan analyst Says Obama Infrastructure Buildout Going to be Slow

At least according to this article.

Still unanswered is how fast the stimulus program can be put in place and how much of it will be devoted to construction, JP Morgan analysts wrote in an investor note. That means the impact on companies such as construction firms, heavy machinery makers and building suppliers may not be as immediate as many investors expect.

I have to agree that the money won't be there right away but you have to admit that billions in state spending is going to funnel into these stocks. I mean the states have to get someone to build these roads and Fluor will get quite a few new projects. The analyst picks the aggregate makers as the first movers in getting the Obama money.

JP Morgan estimated the companies that will be most directly affected are construction aggregate and cement makers such as Vulcan Materials Co. and Cemex. A stimulus could also speed up a recovery for construction firms to the early part of 2010.

Friday, December 12, 2008

GM Decides to Close Plants for January.

I think they are trying to conserve every penny of capital in order to stay alive.

The move affects most of GM's plants in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. During the shutdowns, employees will be temporarily laid off and receive a portion of their normal pay from the company. They can also apply for state unemployment benefits, Lee said.

My bet is that some of those factories might end up being shut down permanently depending on what type of car they make. That means Saturn, Pontiac or any other redundant brands. They need to go lean and do it fast or they will blow through that, now White House (the Senate of course failed to lead on this matter,) bailout money.

Obama Team Starts to Stonewall

I mean the guy isn't even sworn in yet and this scandal has blown wide open and is sucking the air out of everything. Now the Obama camp is going to ground.

Obama's staff has declined to respond to even basic questions, like who is conducting the probe, how long it will take, what issues are being explored and whether they are working with federal investigators. Obama has promised transparency throughout his service and to divulge contacts his staff has had with Blagojevich's office in the coming days. But his staff has locked down on inquiries in the meantime.

The scary part though is that Blagojevich might turn over the hornets nest if he decides to make a deal in order to get out of jail time. I mean this guy is a nutjob and decided to auction off Obama's seat even though he knew he was under investigation at the time. Those kind of guys could be capable of anything when cornered. He might be a thorn in Obama's side for months and months depending on what he does.

Dem Governor attacks Obama's Blagojevich Response

It seems that Obama accidentally made a one day story into a continuing saga.

“They have never been in an executive position before,” Rendell said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “The rule of thumb is whatever you did, say it and get it over with and make it a one-day story as opposed to a three-day story. Politicians are always misjudging the intelligence of the American people.”

It also seems that the Obama camp may be showing the strain as well although only a scumbag reporter would try to collar an official trying to go to his kids concert.

Emanuel turned testy and declined to talk with a reporter who approached him Thursday at Chicago City Hall, where he was watching his children perform in a concert. The Chicago Sun-Times reporter pressed him to comment about whether he was the emissary named in the criminal complaint.

“You’re wasting your time,” Emanuel said. “I’m not going to say a word to you. I’m going to do this with my children. Don’t do that. I’m a father. I have two kids. I’m not going to do it.”

When pressed for comment, he said, “I’m not as capable as you. I’m going to be a father. I’m allowed to be a father,” and he pushed the reporter’s digital recorder away.

November Video Game Sales Near $3 Billion

It seems that people just keep scooping those video games up no matter what the economic conditions are.

U.S. retail sales of video game hardware, software and accessories jumped 10 percent last month from the year-ago period to $2.91 billion, boosted by strong sales of Nintendo Co.'s Wii, Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox 360 and the alien shooter game "Gears of War 2."

I just think that people would rather stay home and play a good game then go out and spend money on transportation, movie tickets, eating out etc. I think this "nesting" instinct may be quite a boon for many industries while being a detriment to others.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Credit Crisis Formed out of a Need to Gain Market Share

At least it seems that way according to findings by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

In early 2004, Freddie's executive team was engaged in a heated debate over whether to start acquiring "stated income, stated assets" mortgages. And in April of that year, David Andrukonis, the head of risk management, wrote to his colleagues, "This is not an affordable product, as I understand it, but a product necessary to recapture [market] share. . . . In 1990 we called this product 'dangerous' and eliminated it from the marketplace." Freddie went ahead anyway.

Yup these 'dangerous' products were bought to the tune of $1.6 trillion and they were the multiplier effect that blew the entire thing sky high. They may not have caused the crisis but they certainly played a part in making it go from problems in one or two industries to encompass to threaten the entire world economy.

Atari is Back from the Dead

At least the name and logo is. Now it is attached to a French gaming company called Infogrames and they have a few interesting games in their pipeline.

"Ghostbusters: The Videogame" ships in June as the Sony Pictures film marks its 25th anniversary and plays like an interactive third film in the franchise with the cast involved.

Atari is bringing a virtual Vin Diesel to Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in the spring in "Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena," a shooter that further explores the back story of Riddick from the films "Pitch Black" and "Chronicles of Riddick."

I am really looking forward to the Ghostbusters game since it is supposed to be like a third film but only in video game form. They even got the original actors to do the voice over work.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Auto Bailout Halfway Home

It is strange that I keep pulling for these bailouts even though they go against my Free Market Instincts.

The legislation, approved 237-170 by the House, would provide money within days to cash-starved General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC. Ford Motor Co., which has said it has enough to stay afloat, would also be eligible for federal aid.
Republicans were preparing a strong fight against the aid plan in the Senate, not only taking on the Democrats but standing in open revolt against their party's lame-duck president on the measure.

I think it is just easier to go long these bailed out companies instead of betting against them. The stocks are held down by an artificial mechanism and are trading with the risk of failure baked into them. So we end up a Ford at a share price that is cheaper then a gallon of gas.

So you just need to go long and wait until there is a good chance that the bailout will be passed and then sell the rumor. It worked really well for me on the long side with Ford (I wouldn't touch a company that may still go bankrupt even with the bailout like GM.)

I just "rang the register" because the stock started to go into "wait and see" mode at about $3.25. I think that even if the bailout passes the stock won't see $8 again because it is still several quarters (or maybe even years) away from any potential turn around.

The car industry will still stay in the dumper until we are in the final innings of this recession. Also would you rather be long the #1 car maker in America like Toyota or a stock that is in debt up to its eyes and is still selling a product that people just don't want?

Obama to "Reboot" us in the Muslim World

I think that is a laudable goal.

Obama promised during his campaign that one of his top priorities would be to work to repair America's reputation worldwide, and that one element of that effort would be a speech delivered in a Muslim capital.

He pledged anew to give such a speech, though he declined to say whether it would happen during his first year in office.

My money is on a speech in Istanbul or maybe Amman, Jordan. However, If he gives a speech in Tehran then I will really give him some props.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Obama Bets Big on Broadband: Some Stocks that Might Benefit

I'm starting to love this Obama administration because it keeps the money flowing right to certain industries. In this case his stimulus package now has an ambitious goal of putting every US child on the Internet and wire every hospital.

"It is unacceptable that the United States ranks 15th in the world in broadband adoption," President-elect Obama said in the address. "Here, in the country that invented the internet, every child should have the chance to get online, and they'll get that chance when I’m President -- because that’s how we'll strengthen America’s competitiveness in the world....[and] the economic recovery plan I’m proposing will help modernize our health care system -- and that won’t just save jobs, it will save lives."

I think Cisco (CSCO), Juniper (JNPR), and Ciena (CIEN) executives need to buy Obama a big fruit basket because he just made their next few years. Business spending in networking equipment has just dropped off the table only to be potentially replaced by taxpayer spending. I wonder how much of this free cash will go just to networking equipment (the total stimulus is rumored to be $500 billion) and who will get the majority of the contracts? It could be a piecemeal thing with some companies getting some states while others handling other states.

Another big winner might by EMC corp. (EMC) who is the top player in network storage. Even though the stock has been recently downgraded to Sell due to the near term weakness in the enterprise I can see them as a long term player. I mean all those kids churning out all those reports, tests, and email will have to store that stuff someplace. If it is stored on the NAS run by the school or on the Web then EMC might get some of that cash.

The third big player will be virtualization software companies like VMWare (VMW) who will fill Obama's mandate of energy efficiency. I mean if you can cram like 10 servers on one box with virtualization technology then these schools (and the Federal Government itself) can save billions on their electricity costs. The only problem with VMWare is that Microsoft (MSFT) is hard charging in this market and already has 37% market share.

The best part about these stocks is that almost all of them are really cheap with many trading near multi-year lows. I think the dropoff in business spending might be priced into these stocks (or maybe a little over priced) while any of the "Obama Broadband Money Tree" will not be priced in until the details of the package are ironed out.

Illinois Governmor Tries to Sell Obama's Senate Seat

Here is some really staggering charges against this Blagojevich guy. (I'm sure the MSM had to make a macro for that name.) This greedy scumbag pretty much wanted to auction Obama's Senate seat off to the highest bidder.

"I've got this thing and it's (expletive) golden," the 51-year-old Democrat said of his authority to appoint Obama's replacement, "and I'm just not giving it up for (expletive) nothing. I'm not gonna do it."

Prosecutors did not accuse Obama himself of any wrongdoing or even knowing about the matter. The president-elect said: "I had no contact with the governor or his office, and so I was not aware of what was happening."

I have no idea how Obama came out of this snakepit with only a unrepentant terrorist and a dirty fundraiser staining his suit. I really hope that we don't have a slow agonizing reveal of Illinois corruption that Obama has to deny one after another.

Lee Iacocca Weighs in on the Bailout

I would really listen to this guy because his track record in making the government money at least when it came to Chrysler.

Chrysler eventually drew down $1.2 billion in loans and repaid them within three years — seven years early. Chrysler turned a profit in 1982 and the government made $311 million in the sale of stock warrants and another $25 million in loan guarantee fees.

Iacocca basically says that Dodd is an idiot yet again and wants the automaker CEOs to be kept on since they know how their business works.

Dodd said in a Sunday television interview that Wagoner "has to move on" as part of a government-run restructuring. President-elect Barack Obama, without naming names, said current auto industry management should be ousted if it doesn't understand the need to make changes. Dodd didn't name Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally or Chrysler LLC's Bob Nardelli.

Yeah, Dodd really wanted to remove the CEO and have the company waste time on a recruitment process for a new CEO when the company is fighting for dear life. I can see the GM Board of Directors (not Congress, not Dodd, and not Obama) giving him his walking papers only after the crisis has passed.

Broadcom Offers the New BCM4329

It is really getting cool what these chipmakers can stick onto one die.

Broadcom on Monday announced a chip integrating 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and FM radio into a single silicon die, a move designed to expand the range of features available in mid-range mobile-phone handsets.

I will be willing to bet that we will see this chip in any new IPhones and IPod Touchs going forward.

Jay Leno Comes to Prime Time

I'm sure this doesn't sit well with Conan but it seems that the 10PM (9PM in Hawaii) hour will now belong to the Jay Leno Show. I'm not sure what NBS does with Law and Order but since ER is ending then this may be the reason.

Securing Leno for the ER/Law & Order/many-a-canceled-drama slot kills multiple birds with one stone: It stops Leno from taking his late-night schtick—and his built-in audience—to a rival network at a time when NBC can ill afford to lose any viewers at any time, and it will likely save the network a pretty penny, cutting its number of fillable prime-time hours from 22 to 17.

I'm sure all of those cancelled dramas and Law & Order end up costing far more then it would by keeping Jay Leno at NBC. Also advertisers might want to put their money on a established money maker like Leno instead of some crap like My Own Worst Enemy.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Free Wireless Broadband for the Masses Losers: Analysis Flawed

Now lets look at the Free Internet Losers per Motley Fool.

Earthlink: Yup I have to agree here unless they change their business model in order to take advantage of the Free Internet. I can see them changing to a more GoDaddy ISP based system that provides web hosting, storage, and Akamai-like speed services (this will be a big deal with all this new blood fighting for bandwidth) for Hulu and YouTube. If they do nothing then they will be out of business in 5-10 years.

Comcast: I think they will be hurt by Free Internet for sure because not too many people will keep their wired broadband if they can get WiMax internet for free. You would also have to add Sprint and Clearwire to the potential dead-list as well since the government will be giving their service away for free.

GameStop: Now this is what prompted me to write this post. He talks about lower-priced ad sponsored games that are digitally distributed and I immediately thought of PopCap games. I can see this Free Internet being massive for puzzle games like Diner Dash.

The problem I see is that the vast majority of console games are large and usually take up quite a bit of space on a hard drive. So there will be a finite limit to the amount of games and add-ons one can put onto a consoles storage. I mean a Blue-Ray DVD holds 50 GBs so it would take just 3 games to fill up the largest PS3 Hard drive. This storage and graphics complexity scale will get even worse when the next generation of consoles come out.

I will agree with this part as soon as I see a major game company put a full-game sequel to a major franchise like FarCry, Call of Duty, or Halo only on digital distribution. I think quite a few retailers like Wal-Mart and Best Buy will have something to say about that. Also I have to say that add-ons or episodic content does not count as full-game sequels.

AT&T: They will be hurt on the wireless broadband front and I agree that even more landlines will be cut. But can Skype truly replace the cell phone? Will this Free Internet be faster and more reliable then AT&Ts 3G Network? And will this Free Internet be safer than the AT&T 3G network? If your phone gets a Trojan that steals your phone book or records your cell conversations or adware that makes your phone not work you will be sorry that that you gave up your AT&T service. There is a reason why Apple controls the App Store.

Blockbuster: I agree that Free Internet might spell the death of the brick and mortar Blockbuster. They will probably hold on for dear life as they transform into a digital download Netflix competitor that mostly sells and rents video games. I can see them reduce the size of their stores and maybe even start more web-kiosks where you can download movies to a DVD instead of full stores.

Liberals Already Compaining About Obama

It would suck to have to be beholden to these people. I mean Obama has not even taken the oath of office and they have already started to complain about his cabinet picks and him being pragmatic on some issues.

Liberals are growing increasingly nervous – and some just flat-out angry – that President-elect Barack Obama seems to be stiffing them on Cabinet jobs and policy choices.

Obama has reversed pledges to immediately repeal tax cuts for the wealthy and take on Big Oil. He’s hedged his call for a quick drawdown in Iraq. And he’s stocking his White House with anything but stalwarts of the left.

Why would he repeal tax cuts when the economy is in a recession? Herbet Hoover was great at that. Also how can you go after Big Oil now that oil prices are $45 a barrel? The "windfall profits tax" only works when there are "windfall profits."

I just don't understand the "progressive" agenda. Why do they want to throw us into another great depression and tax companies for something that they have almost no control over? It can't be to "get Bush" so I guess they just want Obama to have a harder time trying to right the economic ship.We also have a status of forces agreement that gets us out of Iraq no matter what. A "responsible" drawdown is what the generals want and Obama knows that. Do they really want to lose the war that badly at this point?

I found this part especially funny:

“At his announcement of an economic team there was no secretary of labor. If you don’t think the labor secretary is on the same level as treasury secretary, that gives me pause,” said Jonathan Tasini, who runs the website “The president-elect wouldn't be president-elect without labor."

I think someone should tell this guy that the Big 3 Automakers would not need a bailout if they were non-Union like the Japanese automakers. The job bank paying people not to work and that $2000 markup on each US car is the direct result of the power of American labor unions run amok.

The Secretary of Labor is a joke compared to a guy that controls $700 billion in bailout money, the fate of millions of 401Ks, and the fate of the world economy. A bunch of union elections can wait until the world credit markets are off of life support and we have sorted our own economy out. Hell, Obama is already giving a huge sop to the heavily unionized construction industry in the form of the 2nd stimulus package.

Solar Industry in 2009

There seems to be a glut of polysilicon going into 2009 and that should hurt the solar cell makers and poly suppliers.

Wang downgraded Chinese solar giant Suntech (STP) and set a price target of $4.50 - down sharply from HSBC’s earlier target of $55. Suntech was trading at near $10 Monday afternoon but still nearly 90% off its 2008 high. (SunPower (SPWRA), First Solar (FSLR) and other solar cell makers have also seen their share prices nose-dive.) “High portion of polysilicon based on contract prices will hurt Suntech,” writes Wang, who estimated that 80% of Suntech’s polysilicon supply is locked into contracts “on less favorable fixed prices.”

This might be a next positive for companies that are making their own solar panels like SunPower and First Solar since one of their input costs will be much cheaper next year. That means some pretty decent margin expansion and will allow for bigger projects installed at a cheaper price.

It just depends on how much prices are locked in. SunPower for instance has $421 million in non cancelable purchase orders coming up in 2009. The bad part is that even if polysilicon prices fall to new lows SunPower will still be forced to pay this amount during the coming year no matter what. They can still negotiate any spot market purchases if solar demand is high enough. I guess that part is really up to Obama.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Free Wireless Broadband for the Masses Winners: Analysis Flawed

I was recently looking at these two articles from Motley Fool about the 5 Winners and 5 Losers of these potential changes by the FCC.

In two weeks, the FCC will vote on rules behind the sale of a sought-after chunk of airwaves. Chairman Kevin Martin wants to include the stipulation that the winning bidder must set aside 25% of the spectrum to roll out free Internet access to 95% of the country.

First the Winners:

Google: I agree here. The more people with broadband the more total web searches will go right to Google. They will clean up.

Logitech: His argument is that more Internet access means more webcams and headsets for Skype. Logitech will see larger sales but people currently use cellphones to communicate. Wireless broadband will probably be more useful for Android handsets that will connect to Skype and not computer headsets. If you have to boot up a laptop to use Skype then it will not have the same penetration as reaching into your pocket. I agree here since Amazon will get quite a few new buyers depending on how many new people embrace Free WiFi. Still there is like a 90% broadband penetration in places like Korea and Japan and they still have thriving shopping malls (well, when there isn't a recession.) The idea of people going to the store and trying on clothes, seeing an item up close, and having it the same day will probably stay with us no matter how deep the broadband penetration. However we will get more hybrid store/web-presence combos in the future. Kind of like how Circuit City has the web-order service that you can pick up at a nearby store in 24 minutes.

Ebay: He says that Skype and Paypal will dwarf the actual auction site in the future. I think Skype is only as good as its "always-on" access to mobile phones. If Skype has deep penetration into the mobile handset market then I will believe this. Also there needs to be a Skype enabled IPhone but AT&T would fight it tooth-and-nail. However, the first time your Skype enabled phone drops when you are in the middle of nowhere (i.e. where Free WiFi doesn't reach) you will be wishing for Verizon again.

Nintendo: I'm not sure about this one since free WiFi will probably help Xbox Live games more because there is just more network multi-player games for that console. Also digital distribution sound good on paper but Wired Broadband is barely fast enough to support very large downloads. Imagine having to download an entire Blue-Ray DVD game over a Wireless N or WiMax connection and then holding them on your fairly tiny Xbox 360 hard drive. Digital Distribution for consoles will only take off when you get that 10 Terabyte Drive add-on for the new Xbox 720.

Also in the Winners column but not mentioned in this article (for some unfathomable reason) is Cisco and other companies that make the routers that will channel all of this new bandwidth to 95% of the country. Everyone that wants to take advantage of this Free Wifi needs an N or WiMax enabled device that is conveniently sold by by Cisco and other network gear makers. I think Cisco will reap massive profits since in a way they will be selling the infrastructure that all of this Free Wifi will need to travel across.

GameStop Buys Woolworth Stores: Whoops Not So Fast!

I think the SEC needs to look into what happened here.

In an article on its website, MCV quoted an unnamed "well-placed source" as saying GameStop had made a bid for about half of Woolworths' stores in a move that would step up competition to UK market leader Game Group (GMG.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz).

However, a GameStop spokesman denied the story.

"GameStop Corp has made no bid for stores being sold by the administrator of British retail chain Woolworths. Claims originating from games industry publication MCV hold no merit and are completely inaccurate," spokesman Chris Olivera said.

I think MCV may have been taken in by some well-heeled investor trying to manipulate the stock price. He could have been short the stock or maybe was trying to pull some sort of volatility play or something. There wasn't any funny options trades as far as I can tell.

The stock dipped briefly to 19 on the news of the GameStop has lost their mind; and decided to buy a bunch of stores from a near bankrupt company that is selling things in an unrelated business for pretty much no reason at all. It would be like Home Depot trying to buy out the Gap or something. In any case the SEC needs to investigate.

OJ Will Now Die in Prison

It seems that his feeling of invincibility has disappeared in a Las Vegas courtroom instead of a Los Angeles one.

A broken O.J. Simpson was sentenced Friday to as many as 33 years in prison for a hotel armed robbery after a judge rejected his apology and said, "It was much more than stupidity." The 61-year-old football Hall of Famer stood shackled and stone-faced as Judge Jackie Glass rattled off the punishment. Moments before, Simpson made a rambling, five-minute plea for leniency, simultaneously apologizing for the holdup as a foolish mistake and trying to justify his actions.

That means potentially OJ will be in prison until he is 94. I think there is some karma at work when someone beats a double murder rap only to be convicted of armed robbery and kidnapping only 13 years later. I think the worst part for OJ is that he will have to be kept in solitary or some Las Vegas inmate will shank him to get on the news.

What the Automakers Want

This is a nice rounddown of exactly what the automakers are asking for and what they are going to do to restructure their business.

General Motors: Term loans of up to $12 billion through end-2009; $6 billion line of cred
Ford: $9 billion line of credit
Chrysler: $7 billion loan by end-2008

This is when they will be profitable (and when they would be able to pay back the US taxpayer) again:

General Motors: Trying to cut $30 billion from its debt load; dividend will remain suspended during the life of loans. Expects North America to break even by 2012
Ford: Expects a return to profitability in 2011.
Chrysler: Expects a return to profitability by the end of 2009.

I think Americans believe they are throwing good money after bad when it comes to these companies.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

What the Automakers Drove to Washington

Sigh, more stagecraft and stupidity from the Big 3 Automakers.

So, we know Ford’s Alan Mullaly is driving from Detroit to DC in an Escape Hybrid, and GM’s Rick Wagoner is pushing a Malibu Hybrid from Motown and exchanging it for a Cruze/Volt mule to drive (carefully!) the final two miles to the capitol. We even know that UAW Boss Ron Gettelfinger will be *gasp* flying to the hearings, thanks to the fine reporting at Jalopnik.

The Ford guy is actually driving the whole way in an Escape Hybrid. While the GM guy is driving a Malibu and then switching to a Volt for the last two miles? Of course the UAW guy is choosing to fly like the A in UAW stands for airline. You figure the head of the United AUTO Workers would drive an auto to a meeting where he will be begging for money. This part is the most funny.

Since Chrysler currently sells only two hybrids, the nearly identical Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango SUVs, it’s a safe bet that he will be rolling up to Capitol Hill in one of them, and so can you, if you hurry.

You see, just a week after the vehicles were launched this past October, Chrysler announced that it would be shutting down the Newark, Del., factory where they are made at the end of the year, discontinuing the entire Aspen/Durango lineup in the process.

Yes the Chrysler guy is driving to the begging session in a car that has been recently discontinued. Now that is case-in-point why this industry is going to be taken over by foreign carmakers. Toyota actually makes Hybrids that people are willing to pay money for.

Impatient Dems Want to Shift Automaker Bailout to Obama

More finger pointing from the clueless Dems in the Senate when it comes to economic issues. They just can't wait for Obama to come in there and take some leadership which means take some of the blame if (more likely when) they fail.

"At a time of great crisis with mortgage foreclosures and autos, he says we only have one president at a time," Frank said. "I'm afraid that overstates the number of presidents we have. He's got to remedy that situation."

Obama will remedy the situation on January 20 when he is sworn in as President, Congressman Frank. Until then Bush is still President and Paulson is Finance Secretary whether they like it or not. Of course a pea-brain like Dodd can't wait that long:

"The Obama team has to step up," Sen. Christopher Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee and one of the lead negotiators, said Nov. 21 in Hartford, Conn. "In the minds of the people, this is the Obama administration. I don't think we can wait until January 20."

The Constitution of the United States dictates that they wait that long Sen. Dodd. If the Dems fail to save GM and it pulls the other two automakers under then it is 100% on their heads. All the Congress has to do is figure out where the money will come from and what strings they need to attach and the problem will be solved. They should just drain it from that Fuel Efficiency loan that is already on the books. I mean GM won't be able to make *any* cars (fuel efficient or not) if they are closing their factories and showrooms.

I mean the automakers have submitted their plans even though Dodd probably can't read a balance sheet to save his life. In fact the automakers seem open to almost any strings that the Congress wants to attach to the money.

Following the marathon hearing, one auto executive said he was encouraged that some Republicans who seemed not to listen at all to their requests for government help last month were "more rational" on Thursday about the impact on the broader economy. "I think we can save the industry in the next month, but it will be a very different-looking Detroit Three in a few months, and probably will be the Detroit Two."

Ah the gunshot marriage of Chrysler and GM? The government is getting pretty good at these forced pair-ups so what will make them stop in the future?

Mumbai Terror Plot Begins to Take Shape

It sure is a tangled mess that the Indians, FBI and Scotland Yard needs to sift through.

The surviving gunman, Ajmal Amir Kasab, 21, told interrogators he had been sent by the banned Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba and identified two of the plot's masterminds, according to two Indian government officials familiar with the inquiry.

Kasab told police that one of them, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, Lashkar's operations chief, recruited him for the attack, and the assailants called another senior leader, Yusuf Muzammil, on a satellite phone after hijacking an Indian vessel en route to Mumbai.

I am just wondering if any of these guys have some ties to Al-Quida and its various offshoots?

Firefox Debutes Open Source T-Shirt Store

I am really liking some of these Firefox T-Shirts which have been created by their users. This one is really pretty cool looking. The only problem I see is that Mars should be redder.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Ford CEO to Travel to Washington Via Car

A day late and a dollar short but at least the Ford CEO is going to actually drive one of his products to beg for taxpayer money. I hope he drives a Hybrid or something in order to save some gas.

When the Big Three automakers come back to Washington for hearings later this week on the proposed auto bailout, Ford CEO Alan Mulally will be making the more than eight-hour trip from Detroit to the Capitol by car, the company said today. The company won’t say yet, however, what kind of car Mulally will take (a Ford F-150 pickup truck or a Ford Focus compact car?), whether he will be behind the wheel, or when he will arrive: “It depends on traffic,” says a spokesperson.

Birinyi Associates Head Says Stocks Have Bottomed

This guy predicted the fall so he should be smart enough to predict the bottom as well. He mainly sites the low number of stocks rated "Buy" and the high negative investor sentiment as indicators that the bottom has been put in.

“The market will not again visit 750 on the S&P,” Laszlo Birinyi, who predicted the rout in financial stocks, wrote in a report today titled “The Stock Market Has Bottomed.” While he said that doesn’t mean the benchmark index for American equities is poised to rally, researchers at Bespoke and UBS said it may.

The S&P 500 might climb 17 percent in the next three months, based on the eight five-day rallies that were bigger than the 19 percent advance completed on Nov. 28, Bespoke wrote in a report. The S&P 500 rose 5.6 percent on average in the next month and 17 percent in the next three months, according to Bespoke, whose founders, Justin Walters and Paul Hickey, once worked at Birinyi.

Stocks will post “higher double-digit returns” in 2009, UBS AG’s global strategist forecast.

House Stimulus Now at $500 billion

Well, it seems like there is now more spending coming down the pike as this stimulus bill is nearly 5 times larger then the last one.

The aide, who asked not to be identified, said the legislation would include a middle-class tax cut, billions of dollars for road, bridge and mass transit construction, expanded aid to states and investments in renewable energy.

I just need to see the actual bill before I can make any comments on it. In any case it will be a nice to be in construction in 2009.

CNN Accidentally Reveals Mumbai Hostage Whereabouts

It seems that CNN just reports the news in some sort of bubble and doesn't think that terrorists watch cable news. At least CNN did not cause the death of these two Wales residents and other Westerners hiding in Taj Mahal Palace Hotel due to their loose lips.

From her home in Penarth yesterday, Mrs Shaw said: “We have been asked by the British terror police not to talk to the press.

“But the reason I would not want to talk to anyone is because our safety was actually compromised by CNN, which broadcast where we were.

“The terrorists were watching CNN and they came down from where they were in a lift after hearing about us on television. For that reason I would appeal to the media to be very careful about what they broadcast.

“When we left Mumbai there were still around 100 people trapped there.”

She added: “People talk to one another on mobile phones and that gets broadcast and the terrorists knew from that.”

After a Long Courtship Obama Picks Clinton for State

The dance is finally over and Obama has his Secretary of State:

He introduced Clinton first, saying of his former presidential rival, "She possesses an extraordinary intelligence and toughness, and a remarkable work ethic. ... She is an American of tremendous stature who will have my complete confidence, who knows many of the world's leaders, who will command respect in every capital and who will clearly have the ability to advance our interests around the world."