Another month, another big media company announces a looming bankruptcy. This time it’s close to home for me as the owner of The Denver Post announces a prepackaged bankruptcy. I went over some of the details this morning on Denver’s 9News.
Archive for January, 2010
The two-seat Tango was designed to allow drivers to lane-spit, which is legal in California and other parts of the world.
If everyone drove a Tango, the world’s highway capacity would double, said its creator Rick Woodbury, president of Commuter Cars Corp. of Spokane, Wash.
In addition to being, narrow, Woodbury boasts it’s the fastest car in traffic, able to go from zero to 60 in 4 seconds.
I found the Tango on display at the International Auto Show in Detroit.
Unfortunately, for now, the thin car has a fat price tag: $150,000. It’s a price Woodbury hopes to bring down through mass production some day.
Click here to read column.
Autopia / Comments Off
Detroit bricklayer Dan Tollis protested against the auto industry bailouts last week in front of the motor city’s North American International Auto Show.
Tollis told me he’d lost his family masonry business, which did a lot of work with the automakers, and that’s sometimes the way business goes. He’s starting over, without a bailout and believes the auto makers should do the same.
Click here to read my column on Tollis and Miriam Pickens, who was protesting for just the opposite.
Pickens said she was retired after working in the auto industry for 30 years. She said that if it weren’t for the bailouts, Detroit have much worse unemployment than it has today, which some measures count at nearly 50%.
“We want a working city. Not a laid-off city,” she said.
Clearly our nation would now be even deeper in the muck were it not for bailouts of the auto industry, and the mortgage, banking and insurance industries as well.
But the problem with bailouts is that they reward failing business models and may only delay the inevitable.
Our nation’s business leaders preach about free-market capitalism and the evils of regulation as they follow each other over cliffs.
Then, when they’ve destroyed all they were charged to preserve, they go running to the government for a bailout. And then the government has to bail them out, because the consequences of not bailing them out are too horrible.
Depite all that’s happened, little about this system has changed. I’s not clear whether history will view bailouts as either necessary or wise. But for now, they’ve gotten us through what George Bush quaintly used to call “a rough patch.”
Banking Crisis / Comments Off
President Barack Obama is at it again, calling banks irresponsible, and threatening to hit them up with a new tax for the next 10 years.
“We want our money bank,” he declared, citing the “obscene bonuses” bankers paid themselves going into and coming out of the biggest banking crisis in generations.
So little has actually changed in the banking world. The too-big-to-fail banks are now even bigger. And the underlying problems of toxic debt, Byzantine securities, and record mortgage foreclosures continue. It makes you wonder if maybe Obama likes to chide the bankers in public, to appease the voters, but instantly becomes accomodating behind closed doors.
Many banks already have repaid their loans from the Troubled Asset Relief Fund, with profits to the U.S. Treasury. And the Federal Reservice Bank – which has been holding interest rates to record lows to keep the machinery lubed – recently reported its largest profits ever. Still, the wreckless behavior of our too-big-to-fail banks have helped rack up trillions in debt for the nation. And many of these banks would no longer exist were it not for taxpayer assistance.
Already, bank analysts are complaining that if the government taxes these banks, there will be even less money to lend. And of course whatever taxes banks have to pay simply get passed on in increased fees to consumers.
Consumers, however, are already getting sacked and lending remains tight. Additionally, our growing government is going to have to find increased reveneues from somewhere.
Banks – while worthy of Americans’ contempt – have great lobbists and will likely come out ahead before this latest proposal takes form. In the end, Congress and the President do not tell banks what to do. It’s the other way around.
Autopia / Comments Off
General Motors Corp. Chairman Ed Whitacre says he’s got a plan to make the car company profitable again.
He’s just not telling anybody what it is.
Click here to read my column on my brief interlude with Whitacre at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Walk along any sidewalk or street in America and you’ll find cigarette butts strewn about like the remains of somebody’s party. Every year, a forest or a field of grass goes up in flames because a smoker flicked a cigarette out the window.
I long ago decided that smokers are swine. They don’t care about their own bodies, so why should they care about littering?
But at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this week, I formulated another hypothesis: Cars do not come with ash trays. I could not find one ash tray in any car at the show. They were replaced long ago to make room for iPods and cellphones and Big Gulps from 7-Eleven.
Smokers who buy new cars, of course, can ask for ash trays. But since they are so thoughtless as to still smoke – paying optional taxes, filling the coffers of infdifferent corporations, and risking cancer to do it – they are probably too thoughtless to ask for an ash tray.
You can’t blame them. That’s just how they are. Why bother asking for an ash tray when you can just flick butts out the window with impugnity?
Automakers did the world a disservice when they eliminated ash trays. They should put them back for every car buyer who slips out for a smoke in the middle of the buying process. And then they should send their interior designers down America’s roads to pick up all these butts.
Autopia / Comments Off
Cars are getting smaller.
I’m not sure why since consumers seem more interested in the hulking trucks, SUVs and even muscle cars on display at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit .
“This is where all business stops,” said Linardos, owner of Motor City Brewing Works.
This seemed a fitting signpost on my latest visit to Detroit. It even reminded me of Dante: “Abandon hope all ye who enter here.”
Sunday morning, my old buddy Louis Aguilar of the Detroit News, took me for a ride around town, and it was not difficult to see what Lindardos was complaining about.
I will tell the story of this little adventure with photos that I snapped, mostly from Aguilar’s car window.
Litigation Nation / Comments Off
It’s a conspiracy you could put in a spy novel.
A lawsuit accuses Credit Suisse of taking money it made in illegal deals with Iran and using it to dupe investors and developers in U.S. resort properties.
Click here to read my column.
Autopia / Comments Off
Nothing fires up consumers more than rising gasoline prices.
Job losses, home foreclosures, decimated retirement accounts – for some reason none of this seems quite as infuriating as $4 gasoline.
The Associated Press today reports gasoline prices have hit a 15-month high of $2.71, which I think is still within the tolerable range for most consumers and won’t generate too much kipping. Click here to read the story.
The last time gasoline went to $3 and then $4 a gallon, though, we did not have 10% unemployment. As the AP story reports: “It’s not clear how much of an energy burden can be carried with unemployment hovering around 10 percent.”