Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Bailout of the US Auto Industry

This was an interesting week. Not quite as interesting as domino effect in the Financial Industry that we experienced in September and October but it was a related event. The US auto industry took their corporate jets (I am thinking that it was at least 2 jets for each manufacturer but they could have tried to cram everyone on to one jet a piece) and flew to Washington to ask congress for a had out. By recent standards it is a relatively small handout. Only $25 Billion. At this point anything less that a billion is just not worth the effort.

I have to admit that I have mixed feelings about this. Given normal circumstances I would say let an industry stand or fall on its own. However, these are not normal circumstances. The US Government has shown that they are willing to bailout industries and now the door is open. Why is AIG any more deserving of being bailed out then GM. GM has probably done more to create middle class wealth than AIG ever did.

However, with the global market place being what it is I am not sure that the current demand justifies the number of brands currently available. Maybe it is time for further consolidation in the market place. Maybe the US auto industry could turn into the big two with GM calling it quits and selling off the brands that are still viable. Would anyone really miss the Hummers?

Maybe GM becomes Chevrolet and sells off everything else. The corvette for car enthusiasts, the Silverado for those who need or want a light truck and a line of mid size and compact cars that provide superior gas mileage. Everything else shutdown or sold. Most of the global competition maintain a couple of brands but only have one brand in each market segment. This makes the most sense. It will be painful though. I suspect that Detroit's current R&D is focused mostly on creating SUV's and has not been able to react to the current change.

The rapid drop in gasoline prices has me concerned as well. This seems to indicate that the demand for SUVs and trucks will continue. The current credit crunch might help to keep the demand down for now. As nice as it is to be able to get change back from a twenty when I fill up my car I was thinking that higher gas prices was good for the country in the long run. The demand for mass transit would increase and trend toward urban light rail would be justified by increase ridership rather than the usual of empty trains passing crowded highways.

I was against the bailout of the Financial Industry even though that was where I made my living. Now that the precedent has been set I say lets bail everyone out. Open up the check book. If you through enough against the wall eventually something will stick.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Paul Simon on the Colbert Report

Paul Simon was on the Colbert Report this week. I watched the replay at 8:30 PM last night. He played American Tune which is one of my favorite songs of all time but I do prefer the Willie Nelson version.

I was reminded of the time that both George Harrison and Paul Simon played on Saturday Night Live. I cannot believe that it was in 1976 (I was a freshman in High School). Paul Simon was the guest host and George Harrison was the musical guest but they played together. I always thought it was great. Thanks to YouTube I can confirm my memory.

Here Comes the Sun

Homeward Bound

Paul Simon performing American Tune

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Finally a new President of the United States

I have not been keeping up with the blog these days. The commute into New York everyday is using up about 3 hours of my time per day. The Blackberry is OK for sending and receiving emails as well as playing around with Facebook. It is not handy for updating this blog. Enough of the excuses and on with a new post.

We finally got a new President. Not sure why anyone would want the job these days. Like most of the country I am pretty excited on how things turned out. While I have never voted Republican in my life it does not mean that I could not vote Republican. My politics runs toward to the middle which means I am a Social Liberal and a Fiscal Conservative.

As far as I can tell over the the last 16 years or more the Republican party's words have not matched their actions. They say they want smaller government but then attempt to legislate personal choice. They inherited a balance budget with a surplus in 2000 but then cut taxes and started an expensive war that did provided very little value to the American public. We have also squandered the goodwill that the rest of the world gave us after September 11, 2001.

While I like John McCain it would have been hard for me to vote for him since it became obvious that a vote for John McCain was a vote for the continuation of the policies of the Bush Administration. Mr. McCain seems like a man who I would be proud to shake his hand. However, the John McCain the candidate almost made me lose respect for John McCain the man. I think he lost a great opportunity to show that he was an agent of change as much as anybody but instead he dropped back into the old Republican playbook. Mr. McCain probably would not have won the election but the country probably would have been better served had a different campaign been run.

I originally thought the selection of Sarah Palin was a great political move. While she did tend to scare the hell out of me I could definitely see her value. She knew what her role was and she went out did it. I can certainly respect the speaking skills that she has and her willingness to be the Pit bull for the McCain Campaign. While I am very glad that she is not a heartbeat away from the Presidency I cannot but help admire her for what she has been able to accomplish.

Now that the campaign is over I have noticed that Gov. Palin is now being trashed. Michael Vick treated his Pit bulls better than this. These people sent Palin out to do the dirty work and then do not even give her a pat on the head and a bone take back to the yard. The whole concept is so offensive. It is yet another indicator that I made the right choice in voting booth. I wish Sarah Palin good luck in her career just not as President or Vice President.

Not only does Barack Obama have his dream job but he has the majority in Congress and the Senate. This should make change easier but it does not guarantee accomplishments. The first term of the Clinton Administration is probably a good example. President Clinton had not become the rock star that he is today and was a little star struck. I think that Barack Obama would do well to learn this lesson. I do think that Mr. Obama has already become the rock star and may not have the same learning curve.

It goes without say that the most important cabinet position selection will be Secretary of Treasury. I have heard Jon Corzine mentioned as a possibility. I hope not. In fact I am willing to continue to deal with him being the Governor of New Jersey for the good of the country. I would like to see Robert Rubin but I do not think he wants the job.

New President or not we have a couple more tough years ahead of us. President Obama is going to have some tough decisions and I am sure the good folks at Fox News will be available to wrongly micro manage every decision. It seems like they are only willing to support a President if it is the one of their choosing.

I am excited about the future. The new President is a good first step. It will be interesting to see how the strategy unfolds. I have no idea what I would do so I am sure that Obama team is probably not sleeping a whole lot.
I have some bike related postings to do maybe next time.