They’re at it again! Originally created by Congress in 2007, the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program provided low-cost government loans that were subsidized, and then in part eaten as we now know, by hapless and strung-out American taxpayers. In 2011, it was left behind as dead, but now the government wants to bring that zombie back.
The US shale revolution is leaving its marks. In 2009, the US surpassed Russia as the world’s largest producer of natural gas. In May, production exceeded imports for the first time in 16 years. In 2020, the US might overtake Saudi Arabia as the top oil-producing nation. But there aren’t enough pipelines in place to handle it.
The Fed’s taper “may not be smooth,” explained Bank of England deputy governor Charles Bean at the central-banker shindig in Jackson Hole. He was referring to the currencies, bonds, and stocks of emerging-market economies such as Brazil, Indonesia, and India that have gotten massacred.
Refinancing mortgages is phenomenally profitable for banks – one of the few growth sectors actually spawned by the Fed’s herculean efforts to force down long-term interest rates through waves of quantitative easing. Banks went on a hiring binge to shuffle all this paper around and extract fees. But now, with rising rates, that business is getting decimated.
Experts at the German Federal Office for Security in Information Technology (BSI) determined that Windows 8, the touch-screen enabled, super-duper, but sales-challenged operating system is dangerous for data security. It allows Microsoft to control the computer remotely through a backdoor – with keys likely accessible to the NSA.
China is the promised land for our revenue-challenged tech heroes: 1.2 billion consumers, economic growth several times that of the US, and companies splurging on IT. Layer the “cloud” on top, and China is corporate nirvana: a high-growth sector in a high-growth country. Or was nirvana, now that the NSA’s hyperactive spying practices have spilled out.
Cisco CEO Chambers gushed with positive vibes during the earnings call: “unbelievably strong results,” he said about the quarter. He talked about record revenues. “We have strong momentum,” he said, “very solid execution.” But he lowered guidance, lamented the debacles in China and Japan, and announced layoffs. Then he uttered the word “lumpy.”
The cloud is a growth industry. And a religion in Silicon Valley: you’re better off with all your data and software stored in a data center somewhere on the planet. It’s a beacon of growth that revenue-challenged global tech giants like Oracle and IBM wave in the faces of antsy investors. But now, they’re going to pay a steep price for their cooperation with the NSA.
Amazon’s promotion machine shifted into high gear to tout President Obama’s visit to one of its warehouses where he unveiled his “better bargain” for “middle class jobs.” The visit was artfully synced with Amazon’s announcement that it would create 7,000 jobs. Out of nothing. One of the ongoing lies in America’s jobs crisis – and Obama stepped right into it.
People in the upper income categories, those who don’t have to worry about the price of toilet paper, have seen their incomes rise over the years. The rest are in a downward spiral: median household income, adjusted for inflation, has dropped 7.8% since 2000. The lower end got hit the hardest. For these folks, tissue makers have a special strategy: desheeting.