When companies collude they rarely put it to writing.
That does not seem to be the case with two naturual gas giants bidding on land leases. Reuters reports Chesapeake Energy Corp. plotted with Encana, it’s fiercest competitor, to suppress land prices at public land auctions in Michigan. Click here to read it’s investigation.
We are talking bid rigging, price fixing, bid-rotation, collusion – all those things corporate people like to attribute to wild conspiracy theorists. And it appears to be contained in emails. Who writes things like this down in emails?
In a July 16, 2010 email, Chesapeaike’s CEO Aubrey McClendon suggested his company “smoke a peace pipe” with Encana.
It’s unclear what he expected to put in that pipe.
McClendon is already embattled for personally borrowing more than $1.3 billion from a company that also finances his publicly traded company. He’s been removed from the company’s board and the Securities and Exchange Commission and the IRS have launched inquiries.
Posted by Al Lewison June 22, 2012 Retailing /
Retail isn’t overbuilt, it’s under-demolished, says Don Wood, CEO of Federal Realty Investment Trust.
There’s plenty of room for growth in areas with high concentration of high-income households. And in areas where there’s not?
Well, they’re not likely to see redevelopment and it’s going to be a long time before they see the wrecking ball, says Wood.
They will likely just get “crummier” said Wood, “over the next 20 years.”
Retail developers have been able to defy the gravity our our nation’s economic crisis by concentrating in areas that are still doing quite well, said Wood. As other economies get worse, investment dollars from around the world pour into the U.S. seeking safety.
Where they get a return are the places in the U.S. that are still humming along. Not in areas getting crushed under the slump.
Angela Shaw came face-to-face with history’s second-largest Ponzi schemer, R. Allen Stanford, and tells about it in my column.
Shaw, whose family lost $4.5 million to Stanford, is the volunteer director of the Stanford Victim’s Coalition and a champion for all Stanford victims.
She has been so dogged that someone made this faux movie poster in her honor.
But the fight is far from over.
So far Stanford victims have collected little to none of the money they invested in bogus Stanford certificates of deposit.
The Securities and Exchange Commission has sued the Securities Investor Protection Corporation, demanding it pay Stanford claims. SIPC has argued that while parts of the Stanford empire are covered by SIPC, the Antiguan bank that issued his dubious CDs isn’t.
Meantime, liquidators hired by the island nation have sued the U.S. Department of Justice attempting to assert their own control on Stanford’s frozen funds.
Posted by Al Lewison June 18, 2012 Fat Cats /
Surely, Jamie Dimon is done apologizing after last week’s performance before a Senate Committee.
We’ll see when the CEO of JP Morgan Chase goes before a House committee today to continue explaining his bank’s billions in unexpected trading losses. Last week he was talking about “Old Testament judgement” for “big dumb banks.”
Posted by Al Lewison June 18, 2012 Courts /
Meet Christian Paetsch - husband, father, music teacher, and alleged bank robber.
Paetsch, 45-years-old, is accused of donning a bee-keeper’s mesh and robbing and Wells Fargo bank in Aurora, Colo. He allegedly made off with cash tagged with a GPS device. Police say they cornered him in a roadblock and found all the incriminating evidence they needed in his SUV.
A federal magistrate made a rare exception and granted him bail, even though he allegedly forced several people to the floor of a bank with a semi-automatic pistol.
His lawyer said he will plead not guilty. His friends and family seem shocked he could ever be involved in such a thing. He has no criminal record, no history of drug or alcohol abuse, no known mental illness.
He faces 32 years in prison. Click here to read my column on Marketwatch.
Ron Johnson’s turnaround at J.C. Penney is in the early stages, but so far, it’s not very promising.
Sales, earnings, traffic – everything – seems to be headed down, according to the company’s latest financial report, and now the stalwart department store chain faces serious headwinds from a slowing economic recovery.
Johnson, a former Apple executive and longtime retail executive, is trying to hold on to Penney’s traditional, bargain seeking-customers, while trying to appeal to new customers. In doing this, he risks alienating his existing middle-American customers.
If Penney’s latest financial report is any indication, Johnson has frightened off customers by getting rid of sales and coupons. At the same time, he is stepping into a culture war, marketing to the gay and lesbian community. It remains to be seen whether members of the gay and lesbian community will rally around Penney in sufficient numbers to offset those boycotting Penney. It is yet another big risk Johnson is taking that may not pay off and indicative of the kinds of bold moves Johnson is willing to make.
Frankly, despite Johnson’s impressive retailing background, I’m not sure he’s going to pull this one off. Penney may be stuck in a model it created long before Johnson came along, and the economy may be going against it in a big way as Johnson tries to transform it.
Click here to read my column in The Sunday Wall Street Journal.