It’s the day before the big day, and I imagine that everyone is getting ready to hit the sales tomorrow morning. All the while I read the economic reports that suggest fewer and fewer people are going out to buy big this year. Funny, though, the retailers believe that with all the economic news discounting heavily will bring them out to buy things that they may or may not need and save their year. I don’t think they’re too wrong, but I believe that they’re missing a very important part of black Friday – the profitability.\
I talked yesterday about my feelings surrounding the auto-bailout for Chrysler, Ford and General Motors, and the more I read about what Congress is doing and the debates that are flying around the more frustrated I get. Now CNN is reporting that Congress wants the automakers to show how they plan on spending their bailout dollars before they’re willing to offer any. Generally speaking this isn’t a bad idea, but what I find most frustrating is that they haven’t publicly asked the same from companies like AIG or banks taking money from the already approved $700 billion bailout. Doesn’t it seem logical that any company coming to Uncle Sam for a loan/bailout would be held to the same standards?
At the same time they’re asking for $25 billion in taxpayer money – these auto company CEOs are idiots. They all came from the same state in their own private luxury jets. The average American will never see first class, let alone the inside of a private luxury jet, and while continuing to pay their taxes will probably end up eating Mac-and-Cheese to get through this depression recession and these beggars can’t even share a ride or fly commercial. That’s saying two things – they are neither green nor frugal, and that should be disconcerting to everyone. These companies need to get both quickly and those changes need to start at the top.
At what point does a bailout become a lifeline? Is there a point anywhere in there that it becomes another bad idea? The Federal Reserve and Treasury Department got together today and unveiled a new plan to pump upwards of $800 billion more into the struggling US economy. Their hope is that this will jumpstart lending by banks and that suddenly consumers and small businesses will want to use that money.
These plans are as optimistic as TARP, with the Federal Reserve Bank offering as much as $200 billion to purchase securities backed by consumer debt (credit cards, auto loans, student loans, etc.). The Treasury will then insure up to $20 billion against losses (is this confusing yet?) and then the Federal Reserve will purchase up to another $500 billion in mortgage backed securities from Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae (lets call them the three stooges). As if that’s not enough, the Fed will also buy another $100 billion in direct debt issued by those firms. And that’s it for Tuesday.
I’m a huge fan of golf – although watching it on television is a lot less enjoyable than playing it live. Obviously, being a fan of golf makes me a huge fan of Tiger Woods, one of the greatest golfers of all time, but even his association with Buick wouldn’t convince me to even consider one of their cars. Somehow I doubt that they suit the style and image of Tiger and his wife, either, so it is quite likely that Tiger Woods is celebrating today’s announcement that GM/Buick and Tiger Woods will be going their separate ways.
In typical GM fashion, there is a spin and a feeling, and in this case more than most they don’t mesh. The announcement is saying to me “GM is broke, and Buicks aren’t selling – Tiger or not.” The PR machine is spinning out a mutual, amicable separation:
“Tiger is expecting a second child in his family and he’s looking for more time in his schedule,” said Peter Ternes, G.M.’s director of communications for sales, service and marketing. “At the same time, General Motors is looking to cut costs… we both agreed that we would part our ways.”
Normally, I have a lot of respect for Bloomberg.com, but their recent article on the US Government’s pledge of 7.7 trillion to ease frozen credit seems a little absurd all things considered. Their numbers include some of the following expenses:
$3.18 trillion — Already been tapped by banks and other financial institutions
$2.4 trillion — Set aside to buy short-term notes, or commercial paper, that companies use to pay bills
$1.4 trillion — Used by the FDIC to guarantee bank to bank loans
$29 billion — To help with the Bear Stearns takeover by JP Morgan Chase and Co
If you listen to the media today, the bailout of Citigroup is a huge success and the stock market is being rewarded for effective, decisive action. If you listen to me, there is no justification for what happened in the market today and buyers and sellers are irrationally grabbing at whatever news they can. Tomorrow will show that in all reality it’s only a matter of time before something else dips and the market tumbles again. But, there is good news amidst the gloom and that is the surge in Citi stock up nearly 60% to close at $5.95 – much more realistic for a company the size of Citigroup, even with their problems.
Even with the bailout of Citi on the books now, it doesn’t appear that the auto-makers are any closer to getting their due share, which seems odd to me. I hope this proves to simply be posturing by the government as this to me still seems bigger and more important than the likes of AIG. The only difference, of course, being that most politicians don’t care who is in Detroit, but their buddies on Wall Street are a whole different story.
I’m a parent. I have two beautiful children that make every day worth living. I also use the internet – obsessively – and want my children to grow up and use the internet to improve their education and provide entertainment. But, the internet is a cruel, cruel place, and a significant amount of training will be given before my children get free reign on the world-wide-web. Unfortunately for them, the first thing I am going to put significant limits on is social media services like instant messaging, web-camming, etc., because I believe these are the places that pose the biggest threats and frighten me the most.
You’re probably wondering why I am writing this, and many of you would understand just by reading Abraham Biggs name. Abraham Biggs was a 19-year-old Broward College student who committed suicide on a live webcam this week. Live on the internet and message logs showed that some members of the virtual audience encouraged him to do it, while some even went so far as to discuss whether he was taking a dose big enough to kill himself. This was a live person and a live audience. A few viewers tried to discourage him, but nobody picked up the phone and called police until it was too late – hours too late. It sickens me to think that people watched this man die and didn’t think to lift a finger to help.
If it’s true, I really have to believe that Barack Obama’s decision to make Hillary Clinton Secretary of State was him simply following the adage of “keeping your friends close and your enemies closer,” because if it wasn’t, I’m losing faith in what Obama considers change. His cabinet is a rehash of what we saw during the Clinton years, leaving me asking – aren’t there better qualified, new-blood men and women that could offer the change that Obama has preached so aggressively during his campaign? Seriosuly, other than being married to Bill Clinton, what has Hillary really accomplished? Does she have the foreign affairs experience necessary to avoid embarrassing the Untied States?
Not to mention, the only reason that Hillary would accept any position offered by Obama is to advance her own political career. She’s already showed with her wavering suppot of Obama after the primaries that she believes she should be the president. What makes anyone think that she feels any differently now or that she would put the office, the party and the President before her own personal agenda? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Hillary Clinton is in it for herself and she has an agenda – her agenda is to help herself. It’s that simple.
I don’t know why Sarah Palin bugs me so much, but she does. Every time I see her name or face staring back at me from the television or internet, I think to myself – “oh God, here she comes again.” This time, I have to see her standing at a Wasilla, Alaska turkey farm, cup of Starbucks in hand, as she pardons a turkey.
What’s really hillarious to me is how ignorant she really is. The media is playing her while the crackpot behind her is playing with my turkey dinner before stuffing it into some weird contraption. All the while she’s rambling on about business, how the campaign trail was, and what she’s going to do for Alaska. Heck, the only reason I like seeing Sarah Palin in the news is that I know Saturday Night Live is going to feature Tina Fey re-enacting the stupidity with an audiance laughing all the way. Do you think John McCain is watching this thinking to himself… “thank God, it’s over.”
It’s probably not a coincidence that Apple announced the release of their 2.2 update for the super-successful iPhone on the same day that RIM/Verizon planned to release the much anticipated Blackberry Storm. Both have a touch-screen, 3G connectivity and basic PIM functionality, but the similarities end there. The iphone has the app store that is revolutionary in hand-held devices. RIM has the reputation as a diehard business machine that is bulletproof when it comes to email. Both reputations are well deserved and both phones will continue to coexist in the market.