Author Archives: Mr. Cain Thaler
In a moment when nothing makes us happy, we got a nice feel-good story Monday, that the IEA, the International Energy agency, says we will be energy self-sufficient in 2020 and overtake the Saudis as the biggest exporter of oil in 2030.
To which I say, oh, please, we will never ever again be nationally self-sufficient, but we could be continental self-sufficient, and that in itself would be a big deal.
But we can only do it in two ways: 1.) Choosing to view the Canadian tar sands oil as regular oil that can be refined cleanly, as Honeywell (HON -0.33%), which makes the refining chemicals, says it can be, and 2.) we switch to natural gas surface fuel.
I don’t have great hopes for either under President Obama, and that means you are going to have to start the sufficiency drive in 2017, which doesn’t give you a whole heck of a lot of time.
First, the anti-fossil-fuel nonprofits were important to Obama’s election. They have no desire to allow Canadian heavy oil to come into the States. I think they are powerful enough to stop it, and that means we will continue to import oil from Venezuela and the Middle East. OPEC wins.
Second, although I had a very optimistic David Demurs from Westport Innovations (WPRT +3.88%) on the show tonight, the premier nat-gas engine maker, it is very clear that the demand for nat gas engines isn’t up to snuff — hence the missed quarter — in part because the infrastructure is just not there to pump. Until it is, nat-gas engines remain ultra-niche.
(CNN) — The outward signs of recovery were everywhere Monday across the Northeast nearly two weeks after Superstorm Sandy struck: Power restored to tens of thousands, bridges and tunnels reopened, and limited train and ferry service up and running.
“After two weeks of the recovery phase, we’ve achieved a new normal for life in post-Hurricane Sandy New Jersey,” Gov. Chris Christie said of his state.
Nearly everyone in the state has power back, nearly all schools are reopening, and gasoline rationing can end in the state, he said.
Italy’s economy is likely to contract 2.3% this year due to plummeting business investment and private consumption, the European Commission said Wednesday, slashing a February forecast for a more modest 1.3% economic contraction.
The euro-zone’s third-largest economy will also contract next year by around 0.5% before expanding 0.8% in 2014, according to the new projections from the European Union’s executive body.
Italy’s public debt should peak next year at 128% and decline modestly the following year, according to the new projections.
The European Union’s new view suggests that more fiscal austerity lies ahead for Italy. The “structural” budget deficit–adjusted for the business cycle and one-off measures–should decline to 0.4% of gross domestic product next year but rise again to 0.9% of GDP in 2014.
You are awakened every morning at 6:00 sharp.
No rolling over and catching a few extra minutes of sleep. The lights are on, bright and unrelenting, and you can’t turn them off.
You could use the extra sleep, though, because you never — ever — get a good eight hours. Every night, without fail, you are awakened at midnight, 3:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. Every single night.
But there is no time to dwell on that this morning, or any morning.
You have exactly 90 minutes to shower, get dressed, make your bed — no, you can’t let that go for today, or any day for that matter — get some breakfast and get to your job, where the most you will ever hope to make is $1.15 an hour.
Welcome to life at the Federal Correctional Institution at Sandstone, the low-security federal prison in Northern Minnesota where Marc Dreier is serving a 20-year sentence for conspiracy, fraud and money laundering.
NORWALK, Conn. (AP) — Priceline.com Inc. plans to buy online travel-research company Kayak Software Corp. for $1.8 billion to expand its travel business.
Priceline will pay about $500 million in cash and $1.3 billion in stock and assumed options. The deal values Kayak at $40 a share, a 29 percent premium over its closing price Thursday.
Shares of Kayak — which also reported a 78 percent jump in third-quarter earnings — soared in after-hours trading while Priceline shares fell.
Kayak allows users to compare hundreds of travel sites when looking for flights, hotels and rental cars. It then sends the consumer to other websites to complete their purchase and earns fees on the referrals, although some bookings can be made directly on Kayak’s website and mobile applications. It also sells advertising.
Kayak was created by the same executives who helped launch other travel sites including Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz. The company went public in July after delaying its offering more than a year while it waited for the market to strengthen.
The strategy of waiting seemed to work — the shares jumped 28 percent on the first day of trading, and Priceline will pay 57 percent more than Kayak’s IPO price.
WASHINGTON – Federal Reserve officials in their last meeting discussed a “number of policy tools” that the central bank might use to further stimulate the economy in the face of the weakening recovery, an official account released on Wednesday said, but they remained in wait-and-see mode.
“Many members judged that additional monetary accommodation would likely be warranted fairly soon unless incoming information pointed to a substantial and sustainable strengthening in the pace of the economic recovery,” the account of the meeting that ended Aug. 1 said.
With few signs of a substantial and sustainable strengthening evident this summer, the report will likely solidify investors’ expectations that the bank will take new measures this fall.
The participants in the meeting discussed a number of options to give more support to the economy, the minutes said. Those include keeping the federal funds rate near zero for a longer period than currently indicated. The Fed has said it will keep that rate low through 2014.
“It was noted that such an extension might be particularly effective if done in conjunction with a statement indicating that a highly accommodative stance of monetary policy was likely to be maintained even as the recovery progressed,” the meeting notes said.
“A few” members suggested “replacing the calendar date with guidance that was linked more directly” to the economy, or removing any guidance as to when the rate would increase.
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Hewlett-Packard Co swung to an $8.9 billion quarterly loss as personal computer sales shrank again and it swallowed a huge write-down linked to its $13.9 billion purchase of Electronic Data Systems Corp.
The company also on Wednesday reduced its full-year earnings outlook slightly to the low end of its previous range, responding to a faltering PC market as well as touch economic conditions in Europe and also China, where growth too is slowing. Its shares slid more than 4 percent in late trading.
The No.1 personal computer maker, which employs more than 300,000 people globally, is undergoing a multi-year restructuring aimed at focusing the sprawling corporation on enterprise services, in the mould of IBM . The plan calls for reducing its employee base by 8 percent.
HP will have gone through about half of its targeted job reductions by the end of the fiscal year, HP’s Chief Financial Officer Cathie Lesjak said in an interview. It cut 4,000 jobs in fiscal third quarter and will likely have shorn 11,500 jobs by end of fiscal 2012, she said.
“HP is definitely showing progress in terms of turning around the company,” said Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu. “One of the clear signs is a better predictability of earnings.”
The Obama administration paid a PR firm nearly $500,000 in stimulus funds to run a barrage of ads on White House-friendly cable programs promoting its green job training program.
According to government records, the Labor Department paid the money in late 2009 to a company that negotiated a media buy on MSNBC’s “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” and “The Rachel Maddow Show.” The ad was set to run more than 100 times — 14 times a week for two months.
It’s unclear how many people might have gotten involved in the green job training program because of the ads. But in terms of direct economic impact, the official online entry on the contract listed zero jobs created as a result of the payment.
“On the surface, this doesn’t pass the basic sniff test,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who sits on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, told FoxNews.com.
Chaffetz, who said he’s writing a letter to the Labor Department seeking more information about the contract, complained that the federal government already spends “way too much” on advertising as it is.
He said the targeting of these ads also raises questions about “political motivations.”
Federal authorities are urging law enforcement agencies across the country to watch out for signs that extremists might be planning to wreak havoc at the upcoming political conventions — by blocking roads, shutting down transit systems and even employing what were described as acid-filled eggs.
The warning came in a joint FBI-Department of Homeland Security bulletin issued Wednesday.
The bulletin specifically warned about a group of anarchists from New York City who could be planning to travel to the convention sites to disrupt the events by blockading bridges.
Anarchists “see both parties as the problem,” so both conventions are prime targets for them, a federal law enforcement official told Fox News.
The Republican National Convention is set to open Monday in Tampa, Fla., and the Democratic National Convention gets underway a week later in Charlotte, N.C.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — The Securities and Exchange Commission announced Tuesday that it had granted the first whistleblower award under a new program to a witness who helped stop a multi-million dollar fraud.
The agency did not identify the whistleblower or the case in question, but said the person will receive an award of $50,000. That equates to 30% of the total penalties collected so far by the SEC in the case, the maximum percentage allowable by law.
The whistleblower could receive additional payouts as the case progresses, the SEC said in a statement.
A mayor in Spain is leading movements of people who raid grocery stores; he likens himself to Robin Hood. Sweet, civilization flourishes when, every time someone creates something stable, a mob ransacks it.
GENEVA/BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – The United States and Japan assailed Argentina’s import rules as protectionist at the World Trade Organization on Tuesday, putting more pressure on the country to revamp policies that many trading partners say violate global norms.
The two complaints mirrored litigation brought by the European Union in May and triggered a swift reaction from Argentina’s center-left government, which vowed to challenge U.S. rules on lemon and beef imports.
Argentina is seen by many fellow Group of 20 nations as a chronic rule-breaker since it staged the world’s biggest sovereign debt default in 2002. It remains locked out of global credit markets and relies on export revenue for hard currency.
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Another JPMorgan Chase & Co risk manager, who worked for a division that lost at least $5.8 billion on a series of complex derivatives trades, has hired a lawyer in connection with probes into the so-called “London Whale” trading debacle, according to sources familiar with the investigations.
Federal authorities are investigating an allegation that some of the bank’s traders in London may have tried to hide hefty losses, and JPMorgan is conducting an internal probe.
Peter Weiland, who was head of risk at JPMorgan’s Chief Investment Office from late 2008 until the beginning of 2012, is one of at least six people associated with the case who have hired attorneys. He has been reassigned by the bank to a new risk control team at the overhauled Chief Investment Office where the loss occurred.
Weiland, who is based in New York, did not return requests for comment, and his lawyer declined to comment.
You can sense almost an air of desperation from David Kostin, Goldman Sachs chief U.S. equity strategist, in his latest note to clients as he pleads with them to take money out of stocks before they fall off the fiscal cliff.
In the note, Kostin vehemently defends his year-end S&P 500 (^GSPC) target of 1250 despite the benchmark’s recent rise to above 1400. The strategist still sees a 12 percent drop ahead, believing that Congress will fail to address the fiscal cliff before the election, and maybe even before the end of the year.
“Political realities and last year’s precedent suggest the potential that Congress fails to reach agreement in addressing the fiscal cliff is greater than what most investors seem to believe based on our client conversations,” said Kostin.
The so-called fiscal cliff is the expiration of payroll, capital gains and dividend tax cuts at the end of this year. It also refers to the mandatory sequestration of spending that resulted from the vicious debt ceiling fight last summer.
“Last year, the deadline for Congress to raise the federal debt ceiling (explain this) was known months in advance,” states the report. “Nevertheless, Congress was unable to reach an agreement that satisfied all factions. Investors were stunned and the S&P 500 plunged 11 percent in 10 trading days.”
Russell Wasendorf of Peregrine Financial was indicted last week on 31 counts of lying to regulators and robbing his firm’s clients of about $200 million.
Wasendorf, who plead “not guilty” to the charges, faces up to 155 years in jail.
Meanwhile, The New York Times reports NO charges are likely against Jon Corzine or other senior execs of MF Global — where $1.6 billion of customer funds remain missing nearly a year after the futures brokers filed for bankruptcy.
Which brings us back to a segment we call Taken to Task.
Look, I get that proving a crime is tough, but when the guy accused of stealing $200 Million goes to jail and the guy who can’t account for $1.6 Billion is likely to get off scott free, something is very wrong.
In case you didn’t know, Jon Corzine is a former CEO of Goldman Sachs, a former Senator and Governor of New Jersey and a former major fundraiser for President Obama. It’s really hard to be more “high-powered” and “connected” in American society.
To be sure, Wasendorf essentially confessed to how he stole customer funds in what was supposed to have been a suicide note while Corzine has denied any wrongdoing and MF Global’s bookkeeper, Edith O’Brien, has plead the fifth.
Still, I’d like to take the Obama Administration, the Department of Justice and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission to Task for not either finding the missing money at MF Global or turning up the heat on the head of the ill-fated firm.
I mean, is it really possible to be unable to account for $1.6 BILLION of customer fund without breaking rules that compel brokerage firms to keep customer funds segregated (and safe)?
The lesson here: If you’re going to blow up the firm, go BIG!
This is sick, and I’m not just talking about the businesses.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Just hearing the word Unicor is enough to make Kurt Wilson see red.
Unicor is a government-run enterprise that employs over 13,000 inmates — at wages as low as 23 cents an hour — to make goods for the Pentagon and other federal agencies.
With some exceptions, Unicor gets first dibs on federal contracts over private companies as long as its bid is comparable in price, quantity and delivery. In other words: If Unicor wants a contract, it gets it.
And that makes Wilson and other small business owners angry.
Wilson has been competing with Unicor for 20 years. He’s an executive at American Apparel Inc., an Alabama company that makes military uniforms. (It is not affiliated with the international retailer of the same name.) He has gone head-to-head with Unicor on just about every product his company makes — and said he has laid off 150 people over the years as a result.
Here are a few little-known facts about Paul Ryan’s supposedly slash-and-burn budget plan.
Government spending increases almost every year over the next decade.
Tax and other revenue rises year after year.
The 10-year deficit is still $3 trillion.
The fact that Ryan’s spending plans grow the federal budget over the long term is one that could easily be lost in the political melee underway in the wake of his selection as Mitt Romney’s running mate.
To be sure, Ryan is proposing major changes to Medicare and taxation that Democrats see as problematic.
But claims that Ryan is slashing spending don’t quite square with the numbers. Those claims are convenient Washington shorthand for what Ryan’s plan actually proposes — which is to slow the rate of budget growth, but still allow the budget to grow.
Under the latest Ryan plan, the budget would grow from $3.6 trillion this year to $4.9 trillion in 2022. The only years in which spending would dip are 2013 and 2014.
Under President Obama’s 2013 budget, spending also increases over the 10-year period, but by a much bigger amount. The budget grows from $3.8 trillion in 2012 to $5.8 trillion in 2022. And instead of the $3.1 trillion long-term deficit under Ryan’s plan, Obama’s plan comes with a $6.7 trillion deficit.
That’s the money that would be added to the national debt over that period.
Many of the 48 Iranian men captured in Syria on August 4 who claimed to be religious pilgrims are in fact active-duty Iranian Revolutionary Guard members, multiple U.S. officials tell Fox News.
Members of the Free Syrian Army captured the group while they traveled on a bus in Damascus.
According to these officials, top members of the Iranian government have reached out to President Bashar Assad to help secure their release. The Iranians say these men were on a Shiite pilgrimage visiting the Sayyida Zeinab shrine, a holy Shiite site in the suburbs of Damascus.
Syria’s state television claimed the men were captured by an “armed terrorist group.”
Yessir. I said, “Yee.”
Vice President Biden drew a tough retort from Mitt Romney’s campaign Tuesday after telling a Virginia audience that the Republican presidential candidate’s plan to lift financial regulation would “put y’all back in chains.”
Romney’s campaign responded by claiming the rhetoric marked a “new low” in the 2012 race.
Biden made the remarks during a stop in Danville, Va. He took a swipe at Romney’s plan to ease financial regulations, by recycling a Romney bank analogy and creating an analogy of his own.
“He said in the first 100 days, he’s going to let the big banks once again write their own rules,” Biden said. “Unchain Wall Street! They’re gonna put y’all back in chains.”
The remark’s context is unclear. Some conservative blogs claimed Biden had just made a reference to slavery. Danville, aside from being the last capital of the Confederacy, is racially split — the city is nearly half black and half white. The crowd at Tuesday’s event reflected that makeup.
It’s being called an “unheard of shift in party preference.” A swing of support – and financial backing – that dwarfs anything seen in nearly a quarter of a century. According to the latest campaign finance analysis from the Center for Responsive Politics OpenSecrets.org, a majority of the nation’s top corporate donors have turned from blue to red, so to speak, and are now contributing more to Republicans than Democrats. That’s the exact opposite of what they did in 2008, and as the Bloomberg points out, nowhere is the trend more pronounced than on Wall Street.
While Mitt Romney’s campaign has won the fundraising derby on a national level for the past 3 months, the change of sentiment among big business begs closer scrutiny. As my co-host Jeff Macke and I discuss in the attached video, if you had to boil the issue down, one overriding theme or reason jumps to the fore, uncertainty.
Whether it’s uncertainty over regulation, uncertainty over taxes and the budget, or uncertainty over healthcare, it’s not only eroding corporate confidence buy the cash outlays that normally go with it.
Let’s use Goldman Sachs (GS) as an example. Data shows in 2008, Goldman employees topped all other corporate donors by contributing $6.1 million dollars, three-quarters of which went to Democrats. Today, 70% of their giving is going to Republicans. And they’re not alone, party swings have also happened at JPMorgan (JPM), Citigroup (C), Morgan Stanley (MS) and UBS (UBS).