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Archive for the ‘Industrial Policy’ Category

This is it for me, at least for this chapter.  I am off to join some people who don’t much appreciate voices singing out of key, and while they might be able to get over my public disdain for coaches who punt in opposing territory, it would be rather awkward to continue to point out the incompetence of the administration.  So for now, it’s probably best to hang it up.

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Still trying to process all of my objections to the current Afghan strategy into something moderately coherent, so I’ll start with a very different story: Fritz Henderson was rather suddenly and unceremoniously dismissed as CEO of GM.

General Motors Co. Chief Executive Officer Fritz Henderson resigned after eight months on the job as directors concluded he hadn’t done enough to fix GM’s finances and culture, people familiar with the matter said…Henderson’s exit caps a tenure that included aborted deals to sell the Saturn, Saab and Opel units, a struggle to replace top managers such as Chief Financial Officer Ray Young, and U.S. market-share losses. (more…)

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I’m a little surprised to see this:

Wal-Mart, the mightiest retail giant in history, may have met its own worthy adversary: Amazon.com.  In what is emerging as one of the main story lines of the 2009 post-recession shopping season, the two heavyweight retailers are waging an online price war that is spreading through product areas like books, movies, toys and electronics. (more…)

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Now here’s an interesting verdict that doesn’t seem to get much press:

In a ruling that could leave the government open to billions of dollars in claims from Hurricane Katrina victims, a federal judge said late Wednesday that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had displayed “gross negligence” in failing to maintain a navigation channel — resulting in levee breaches that flooded large swaths of greater New Orleans. (more…)

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Short post to follow up on two things that were on Baseline recently.

First of all, take James’ advice and check out this Interfluidity post:

An enduring truth about financial regulation is this: Given the discretion to do so, financial regulators will always do the wrong thing.

Steve touches on several of the themes I tried to articulate here, and he does a better job explaining the motivations of each of the players. (more…)

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Two Russians, Ivan and Peter, struggle to survive in farm country. Eventually Ivan gets a goat. His life improves; he has milk and help with the grasses. A genie comes to Peter and says “I can grant you your deepest wish.” Peter is shocked. “You’re going to kill Ivan’s goat?”

That was always the gallows humor about Russia: the country was made for communism because the population was so consumed with envy that it preferred the company of mutual poverty.

I wonder if we couldn’t use a bit of that pessimism. At least some acceptance of finite resources that was not used as a blind support of the status quo. (more…)

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Luis Gutierrez is leading a rally in DC to argue for comprehensive immigration reform.

We simply cannot wait any longer for a bill that keeps our families together, protects our workers and allows a pathway to legalization for those who have earned it…We need a bill that says if you come here to hurt our communities, we will not support you; but if you are here to work hard and to make a better life for your family, you will have the opportunity to earn your citizenship. We need a law that says it is un-American for a mother to be torn from her child, and it is unacceptable to undermine our workforce by driving the most vulnerable among us further into the shadows.

“Comprehensive” sounds good.  But “comprehensive” is not what Gutierrez really wants. (more…)

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Private Label Cars

The auto industry is maddeningly difficult.  Overcapacity, long product design cycles, extensive unionization, national champions, frustrating distribution rules, warranty and product liability obligations…it’s amazing anyone wants to do it.  Yet – like the airline business – there is no shortage of people who want to take a crack at it.

Roger Penske’s plan to take over Saturn is scheduled to close within the next month, and the PR rollout features a story in the New York Times.  He has a different approach: instead of building cars, he is going to contract with an automaker and essentially brand and distribute those third-party cars to the former Saturn dealers and his own Penske dealerships.  The hope is that even if the new car business is not terribly profitable, there is money to be made servicing the installed base.

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The health care debate is fascinating.  While the bailout and subsequent financial adventures entailed a language most Representatives could not even comprehend, most everyone with a pulse believes he understands the health care industry, and being wrong is no impediment.  Reminds me of the old and undoubtedly apocryphal tale:

Reporter goes to Appalachia in 1964 and asks an elderly woman if she is going to vote for Goldwater.  “No,” she says, “he’s against TV, and that’s all I have.”  The reporter is puzzled for a bit, then thinks he has it figured out.  “He’s not against TV.  He’s against the TVA – the Tennessee Valley Authority.”

“Well, I’m not taking any chances.”

That’s the best explanation I can come up with for the bizarre drama that unfolded in what should have been a sleepy summer.  Old people who receive federally-paid health care screaming at congressmen over the prospect of…people receiving federally-paid health care.

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Labor Day is as good an excuse as any to sit outside and have a few beers, even if we in America have to be different and observe it on the first Monday in September instead of the first day of May.  If you are in Logan County, West Virginia that day, Don Blankenship wants to show you a good time.  He is throwing a Friends of America rally – apparently our enemies are having a counterrally in Kandahar, or perhaps the Meatpacking District – and trotting out the finest in live entertainment: Sean Hannity, Hank Williams, Jr., and the Motor City Madman himself, Ted Nugent.  It’s tough to find good bands when running a coal company, I suppose.  And not just any coal company:

Don Blankenship runs West Virginia the way Herman Brown ran Texas.  It just isn’t working out quite as well for West Virginians.

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