Tricky

Tricky
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  • Treasury scrambled to convince S&P away from downgrading the U.S. in the days and hours leading up to the Aug. 5 move, according to newly obtained emails. As it became evident S&P was going to move ahead, Treasury desperately floated a story the ratings agency had muffed a simple calculation, but it was to no avail.   [View news story]
    Sorry, but I'm missing what is "criminal" or "creepy" in what Treasury did. I used to work for an investment bank and EVERY issuer lobbies for ratings -- improvements, maintains, prevention of downgrades. What's new?
    Feb 22, 2012. 05:19 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Wal-Mart (WMT), McDonald's (MCD) and Starbucks (SBUX): Why do you pay your employees so little that most of them are poor? Profit margins at many big U.S. firms are near all-time highs, so there's plenty of room to pay more, but they've made the short-sighted decision not to do so. Henry Blodget thinks if they spent half their profit on better wages, it would help the employees, the companies and the economy.   [View news story]
    Just in the interests of total balanced picture -- Henry Ford was also the pre-eminent practitioner of a belief that paying his employees "reasonably well" also created a market for his product.

    On the other hand -- I can see that for cars. Not sure better paid employees would buy significantly more at McD and SBUX?

    And better paid employees wouldn't want to shop at Walmart ;-)
    Feb 18, 2012. 11:52 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • "It is clear that Berlin, Helsinki, and the Hague have taken the decision to eject Greece from the euro," writes Ambrose Evans-Pritchard. The time for being tough was when the EU looked the other way when Greece entered EMU, or even 6 years ago, when the country still got "glowing reports" from Brussels. Now the country needs assistance, not more austerity heaped on a collapsing economy.   [View news story]
    More to the point, it simply isn't salvage-able. It is a horrible situation for the innocent ordinary Greek. But unfortunately, the way our world operates, a state's leaders can do all kinds of things that reap terrible consequences for the ordinary citizen. And decisions have to be made at the state level. Greece, as a state, is a parasitic body that will not repair itself until it hits rock bottom. It is a sad state of affairs. But it is a black hole and there's no point throwing any more money into that black hole.
    Feb 16, 2012. 01:54 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Sprint (S) won't count the impact of the iPhone on the company's profits while calculating employee bonuses, according to a regulatory filing yesterday. The result is that CEO Dan Hesse's bonus will come in at $1.77M for 2011 instead of $1.53M, with Sprint justifying the move by saying it didn't have the iPhone on its radar when it set performance metrics last year.   [View news story]
    Indeed. Had the iPhone improved profits, he would have been rewarded for a "brilliant strategic move" (doubt it would have been taken out of consideration because the "iPhone wasn't on the radar").

    Heads I win, tails you lose.
    Feb 14, 2012. 06:57 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Research In Motion (RIMM -0.5%) board member Roger Martin remains defiant to a fault over criticism that the smartphone maker has bumbled along in its battle with Apple and Google to the point that he seems to actually lean toward blaming consumers for the firm's decline: "People were saying we can’t make powerful phones like Apple. Yes, we can, but we couldn’t believe consumers would put up with that kind of battery inefficiency and that kind of network inefficiency." (more on Martin's rant[View news story]
    Sure seems to be an indicator that merely changing the CEO role isn't going to cure RIMM.
    Feb 13, 2012. 05:15 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Not in an election year: Pres. Obama's budget proposal Monday will offer measures to trim the federal deficit but will barely touch Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. In 2011, the U.S. government spent $1.56T on the big three, 43% of all federal spending; in 2022, if no changes are made, CBO says it would spend ~$3T on the programs, or 54% of the budget.   [View news story]
    I'm not worried. IMF will bail us out ;-)
    Feb 10, 2012. 08:59 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • 10 Reasons Why Electric Drive Is Stranded On The Bleeding Edge Of Transportation Technology  [View article]
    Renzo, I too am a big fan of the scientific method.

    So I would like to hear the alternative theories to explain the observations regarding the (from what I read) fairly indisputable data -- available from satellite imagery -- of the accelerating decrease in polar and glacial ice. From what I can tell, this decrease appears to be accepted by the vast majority of serious scientists who study this subject matter.
    Feb 3, 2012. 08:47 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • 10 Reasons Why Electric Drive Is Stranded On The Bleeding Edge Of Transportation Technology  [View article]
    I agree with the thesis that -- occasional dips notwithstanding -- the price of gasoline is on an inexorably upward trend. The problem isn't running out of crude, it's running out of crude that can be extracted at "low" prices. The marginal cost of INCREMENTAL supply of offshore and unconventional onshore is much higher than what we have enjoyed as a society to date, which made our current SUV and long daily commute lifestyle affordable.

    And don't be surprised if this trend goes non-linear on us, once it reaches a certain tipping point.
    Feb 3, 2012. 10:45 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Who Wants To Kill The Electric Car?  [View article]
    But one guy from FOX news says otherwise ;-)
    Feb 3, 2012. 10:37 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • 10 Reasons Why Electric Drive Is Stranded On The Bleeding Edge Of Transportation Technology  [View article]
    Hi Nick,

    My sincere answer is "worry about that in 15 years". Seriously, I agree w/ John that IF there is a disruptive technology that truly threatens the ICE, there is a very good chance it will be provided by a company that is not currently publicly traded (and may not even be available yet as an angel investment)!

    Separate the "movement" from the specific investment. I believe in the "movement" long term, I don't have any money on any particular battery company. The sands are way too subject to shifting, for my taste.
    Feb 2, 2012. 09:26 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The Greek crisis may end sooner than we think, says Marketwatch's Matthew Lynn. Greece has a €14.5B bond repayment falling due near the end of March for which it has no hope of repaying, and a default could be the catalyst that ejects the struggling nation from the euro. If that happens, albeit smoothly, we could be looking at a massive rally for the markets.   [View news story]
    I mostly agree. I think there will still be some shock waves, though when it actually happens.
    Feb 1, 2012. 09:10 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • 10 Reasons Why Electric Drive Is Stranded On The Bleeding Edge Of Transportation Technology  [View article]
    There are ideas lurking out there about combining super/ultra capacitors for initial acceleration and batteries for everything else. But I haven't heard of it put into practice yet, even at the prototype stage?
    Feb 1, 2012. 05:01 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • 10 Reasons Why Electric Drive Is Stranded On The Bleeding Edge Of Transportation Technology  [View article]
    The debates always seem to devolve into extreme positions shouting at each other. I see the world as more nuanced. The world according to Tricky:

    * John is right that EVs are a very long way from being at a state where they will enjoy mass adoption (I'm talking 20% of vehicles sold)
    * John is right that anything >5 years out isn't worth considering as an INVESTOR trying to make money on one's personal portfolio (beyond risk, anything that far out usually has a tiny NPV at any appropriate discount rate for such risk)
    * Becoming less dependent on foreign oil will require a multi-approach attack, no single silver bullet is going to do it
    * Natural gas is the more appropriate fuel for large trucks, particularly if they are on a set delivery pattern where the first fueling facilities can be arranged (e.g., the effort to build this in the Texas Triangle of San Antonio - Dallas - Houston)
    * EVs can work quite nicely in fleets that have no range anxiety
    * Batteries aren't there yet, are very difficult, and won't be "there" for quite some time
    * That said, I have a bit more faith in battery progress because there is a LOT more effort/investment in this area recently, in comparison to the 100 years of massive investment in ICE's. You can't change chemistry, but you can change the way you use it (illustrative example -- nanomaterials and manufacturing methods)
    * Scale and experience curves will help EVs -- I talked to one of Ford's top EV guys and he said they are WAY overengineering things right now, and will scale back as they grow confidence
    * Even he doesn't see EVs as being (oh) 10% of the market any time soon
    * But even 10% helps bring down the marginal cost of oil, where each new barrel is becoming increasingly more expensive to extract. It's not the silver bullet, it's a piece of the (non existent national) strategy
    * Do not underestimate the military's resolve on all this. They will be a massive driver of improvement in alternatives
    * Tesla will survive, but as a niche provider -- that's not condemnations, Porsche and BMW are doing great margins, but they're never going to supply the mass market
    * John is right that Tesla is priced for perfection, and then some. I'm not shorting them, but definitely not long at these prices

    Cheerio.
    Feb 1, 2012. 10:24 AM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • 10 Reasons Why Electric Drive Is Stranded On The Bleeding Edge Of Transportation Technology  [View article]
    More to the point, the cause/effect is totally backward. During the 30s and 60s/70s, the rise in oil prices was DRIVEN by geopolitical events (WW2 and then the OPEC embargoes), with the rise in environmentalism and regulatory issues as REACTIONS to those events.

    Objective observers still haven't figured out what exactly caused the big runup in late 90's/00's but any reasonable (non political) analyst will point to supply/demand issues (with rise in China/India) and market speculators gone wild as the two primary DRIVERS (one may argue which was the more important).

    Yes, requirements on (say) blending have played A role. But that effect is simply swamped by the other 3 -- geopolitics, supply/demand, and speculator activity.

    The oil/gas-related regulations and environmentalism are REACTIONS to the pricing drivers.
    Feb 1, 2012. 10:06 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • 10 Reasons Why Electric Drive Is Stranded On The Bleeding Edge Of Transportation Technology  [View article]
    Actually, I find that the vast majority of comments on SA are political extremists ranting at each other, very little discussion of investments.
    Jan 30, 2012. 07:23 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
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