Bill Ford, executive chairman of Ford Motor Co., worries about traffic gridlock on a global basis.
Zhengrong Shi, chairman and chief executive of China’s Suntech Power Holdings, one of the world’s largest solar panel companies, wonders whether “perhaps there’s too much democracy” in the U.S., making it difficult for the nation to adopt a coherent and consistent industrial policy.
“There are no decisions being made,” he said. “It’s like in a company. Sometimes you hear all the voices. The CEO knows what the right decision is and sometimes they just want to bang the table and say, ‘Let’s do it.’”
Posted by Neal Lipschutz
on January 25, 2011
(Neal Lipschutz is blogging live from the World Economic Forum in Davos).
Green is in at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. As participants register and are handed their black conference bags emblazoned with the immodest slogan “Committed to Improving the State of the World,” they are asked if they want to go paperless. That means eschewing the looseleaf binder that holds the details of the multi-day program and the small but thick books of “members and “constituents” in favor of a small flash drive. An organization spokesman said it’s too early to tell the take-up on the digital offer, but that given the effort to go paperless and such things as Ipad applications containing the voluminous documents there definitely will be less paper used this year than last at the yearly global get-together.
Posted by Rick Stine
on September 21, 2010
A good indicator of whether the economy is really recovering is the cruise industry. There aren’t too many more discretionary spend items than a ticket for a ride on a cruise ship. Carnival Cruise today reported that third quarter earnings rose 22%. The gains were partly fueled by lower costs but much of the gains came on revenue gains – the company’s North American boats saw a 10% increase in the latest quarter versus a year ago. And Europe saw a 1% rise.
Clearly, the company s seeing a rebound from a vicious pounding it took during the recession. But it is also clear that it needs promotions like the one above to convince people to pack their bags and head out for a cruise.
BP PLC has reached the point in the Gulf oil spill crisis in which its responsibility for the environmental disaster permits outsiders to feel entitled to comment on every aspect of the oil giant’s business.
So a public debate ensues about whether BP should continue to pay a dividend to investors when the oil is still leaking and the eventual level of BP’s liability and costs can’t yet be known.
And, as cited in an article by Suzanne Vranica in today’s Wall Street Journal, a debate ensues about whether the company should have spent a reported $50 million for image-improvement advertising on television.
On that latter point, whether you think the spending ethically justified or not, it certainly is premature.
Despite the image experts Vranica lists as being hired by BP, the final line of the article to me is the most telling.
“Until the leak is stopped, no amount of advertising or PR will help,” said Chris Gidez, U.S. director of crisis communications at Hill & Knowlton NY, as quoted by the Journal.
For BP that stop has to happen before any image repair work can be successfully undertaken.
Nothing can compete with the images of the continually spewing oil from the ocean floor and the oil-drenched birds.
Posted by Neal Lipschutz
on March 05, 2010
, United States
, Wall Street
If you are looking for reasons to be optimistic about prospects for the American economy, and that search these days requires real effort, spend some time with the proponents and practitioners of clean technology.
For a layman, it’s a bit like going to the world’s fairs of yesteryear, filled with whizbang and excitable notions of how different technological advances, now at various stages of development, will dramatically alter our future daily lives.
From electric cars to the possible creation of synthetic organisms that would eat carbon dioxide to ‘clean coal,’ to wind and sun power and oilman T. Boone Pickens’ nationalist campaign to use U.S.-drilled natural gas in trucks to replace some imported crude oil, it was on display at The Wall Street Journal’s ECO:nomics conference in Santa Barbrara, Calif.
Posted by Neal Lipschutz
on March 04, 2010
An emerging theme at The Wall Street Journal’s ECO:nomics energy conference is that a lack of action by the U.S. government on climate change legislation creates uncertainty for utilities to embark on major, long-term investments.
Skepticism has been frequently expressed at the conference in Santa Barbara, Calif., that Congress and the administration will be able this year to pass legislation that essentially sets a price for carbon emissions.
Michael G. Morris, chairman and chief executive of American Electric Power, which he described as the largest coal burner in the U.S., supported the notion of a carbon price set by the government as it would allow businesses to “be better about your planning,” he said.
“The more uncertainty that can get sorted out, the more willing” companies will be to make big, long-term investments, said Lewis Hay III, chairman and chief executive of FPL Group.
“Some sort of price signal” about carbon is needed for investment certainty, said Tom Albanese, chief executive of Rio Tinto. He said his “preferred view” is a cap and trade system, as opposed to a carbon tax.
Posted by Gabriella Stern
on January 02, 2010
, Ethics & Morality
, Human Rights
The cynic in me says it’s blather from a rock star. The optimistic “Happy New Year” me says: What a delight! Have a look.
Various Chinese VIPs have been dealing the U.S. a prolonged public scolding in recent days, as if to say to visiting President Obama and his constituents back home: you may be running the Free World but we’re big and getting bigger – and besides, you are utterly dependent on us for economic growth. Among the rhetorical gems: The U.S. is engaging in unfair trade protectionism. The U.S.’s monetary policy is excessively loose. American corporate giant Microsoft is stealing intellectual property from a Chinese firm. The U.S. is a filthy polluter spewing toxic emissions. All of which Americans could and often do say about China. Continue reading…
California is continuing its trend-setter ways. You’ll recall the giant state was out front in trying to tame auto emissions, among other things. Now it’s after big-screen televisions.
Marc Lifsher reports in The Los Angeles Times the California Energy Commission is scheduled to release new proposed energy use standards today for public comment, with a final vote in November. Maxium energy use rules for televisions would start in 2011.
The article reports mixed views from the affected industry. It will be interesting to see if other states follow suit. With the booming consumer desire for ever-larger televisions, this could be an emerging energy issue.
Lifsher reports: “The average plasma screen uses more than three times as much energy as a bulky, old-fashioned cathode-ray tube TV.”
Posted by Gabriella Stern
on July 31, 2009
The Cash for Clunkers brouhaha (translation: utter confusion) reinforces the view that the U.S. government’s doing an awful lot of improvising lately. (And not so lately – last fall’s rescue-the-economy efforts by the whithering Bush administration were most definitely off-the-cuff.) Obama’s healthcare reform effort has unfolded in an oddly ad hoc manner. One would have expected a savvier campaign – from the consummate campaigner, after all – to win over Congressional and, er, normal hearts and minds. The president’s impetuous comment about the Gates arrest was of a piece. And now, Cash for Clunkers: Is it being suspended or isn’t it? Will it get more money or will it stall at $1 billion? Answer: The House of Representatives has dumped another $2 billion into the program today but whether the Senate will okay the funding remains unclear – and what all this means for clunker-owners is murky. Peggy Noonan had it right when she recently wrote that the president’s trying to do too much, too soon and, I might add, a bit too haphazardly. Of course, it’s not just the Prez. The Congress is also deep in improv mode – especially the Republican Party as it continues wrestling with its post-Bush identity crisis. Who and what is the GOP, exactly? All this said, some of Washington, D.C.,’s machinations over helping Americans dump their rusty heaps would be charming if the attendant politicking wasn’t so very aggravating. Here’s WSJ colleague Joe White, coining the term “Clunker Follies,” with a Clunkers primer.