- 22 Reasons To Be Concerned About The U.S. Economy As We Head Into The Holiday Season (Economic Collapse, Oct 14, 2013):
Are we on the verge of another major economic downturn? In recent weeks, most of the focus has been on our politicians in Washington, but there are lots of other reasons to be deeply alarmed about the economy as well. Economic confidence is down, retail sales figures are disappointing, job cuts are up, and American consumers are deeply struggling. Even if our politicians do everything right, there would still be a significant chance that we could be heading into tough economic times in the coming months. Our economy has been in decline for a very long time, and that decline appears to be accelerating. There aren’t enough jobs, the quality of our jobs continues to decline, our economic infrastructure is being systematically gutted, and poverty has been absolutely exploding. Things have gotten so bad that former President Jimmy Carter says that the middle class of today resembles those that were living in poverty when he was in the White House. But this process has been happening so gradually that most Americans don’t even realize what has happened. Our economy is being fundamentally transformed, and the pace of our decline is picking up speed.
The following are 22 reasons to be concerned about the U.S. economy as we head into the holiday season:
- European Car Sales In 2013 Drop To “Record”, 23-Year Low (ZeroHedge, Sep 17, 2013):
European recovery propaganda may be humming (for the latest proof see today’s German ZEW sentiment index which soared from 42.0 to 49.0 matching the all time high in the Dax), but when it comes to the actual economy – that place where commerce is conducted and where supply and demand curves intersect, the situation has never been worse. And not only unemployment which is at a persistently record high for the Eurozone, but actual transactions, in this case in the form of car sales. As AP reports, for the first eight months of the year, passenger car sales in the European Union were off 5.2% to 7.84 million compared with the same period last year, the European Auto Manufacturers’ Association said Tuesday. That’s the lowest January-August figure since the group started keeping track in 1990. So technically, this is a “record” low.
- Tesla Model S Achieves Best Safety Rating of Any Car Ever Tested (Tesla Motors Press Releases, Aug 19, 2013):
Palo Alto, CA — Independent testing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has awarded the Tesla Model S a 5-star safety rating, not just overall, but in every subcategory without exception. Approximately one percent of all cars tested by the federal government achieve 5 stars across the board. NHTSA does not publish a star rating above 5, however safety levels better than 5 stars are captured in the overall Vehicle Safety Score (VSS) provided to manufacturers, where the Model S achieved a new combined record of 5.4 stars.
Of all vehicles tested, including every major make and model approved for sale in the United States, the Model S set a new record for the lowest likelihood of injury to occupants. While the Model S is a sedan, it also exceeded the safety score of all SUVs and minivans. This score takes into account the probability of injury from front, side, rear and rollover accidents.
- European Car Sales Drop To 20-Year Low, Germany Clobbered (ZeroHedge, June 18, 2013):
When the S&P, always so conveniently ahead of the curve, yesterday revised its forecast for Europe from growth in the second half of 2013 to 2014 one couldn’t help but golf clap, as well as wonder if they finally started looking at the fundamental depressionary reality on the ground instead of the rating agency’s infamous “models.” A depressionary reality confirmed by the latest car sales number for May which just hit a fresh 20 year low.
European car sales hit their lowest level for the month of May in 20 years as the region’s recession dragged on, the European automakers’ association said Tuesday.
They meant depression instead of recession, but it’s an honest mistake. Continue reading »
YouTube Added: 24.05.2013
My recent presentation to the 66th Annual CFA Conference in Singapore in which I discuss the disconnect between financial markets and mathematical reality
Grant Williams is a portfolio and strategy adviser at Vulpes Investment Management in Singapore. He began his career in finance with Robert Fleming & Co. in London, where he traded Japanese equity warrants. Mr. Williams also worked at Jardine Fleming in Tokyo before returning to Flemings in London, where he helped establish the firm’s pan-Asian convertible trading business. He headed up Asian equity trading at UBS in London and then ran equity trading books at Credit Suisse in New York, Hong Kong, and Sydney. Mr. Williams has a strong focus on precious metals and miners and is a regular speaker at investment conferences around the world. He writes the Things That Make You Go Hmmm… column for Mauldin Economics’ weekly newsletter.
More info on the conference here: 66th CFA Institute Annual Conference
- Hank Paulson Burned As Another Electric Car Maker Goes Up In Flames (ZeroHedge, Mai 1, 2013):
It would appear that (apart from Tesla, for now) that any thing related to electric cars is going up in flames. From Fisker’s fubar (and blowing all that hard-earned government funding) and Chevy’s Volt dysphoria to A-123 Systems (the Lithium-Ion battery-maker) and now Coda – which Yahoo Finance notes was among an emerging crop of California startups seeking to build emission-free electric cars three years ago. After selling just 100 of its $37,250 five-passenger vehicles, Coda filed Chapter 11 today taking a few well-known investors with it. On the bright side, the government was not involved (from what we can tell), but on the even brighter side, none other than former US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson was among those burned by the company going up in flames (as was Harbinger’s Phil Falcone).Despite the $300 million the company managed to raise, that quickly went and unable to raise an additional $150 million in new funding (we suspect blaming ‘market conditions’ for its mere $22million raise), Coda had no choice (and Fortress was more than happy to scoop it up and provide the DIP – the cars will make for fancy paperweights in a collateral liquidation). ‘Green’ is the new ‘red’ as it seems when it comes to electric cars, regardless of funding source – private or public – it goes up in flames.
Green car startup Coda Holdings Inc filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Wednesday after selling just 100 of its all-electric sedans, another example of battery-powered vehicles’ failure to break into the mass market.
… exit the auto sector and refocus on energy storage, a far less capital-intensive business. Continue reading »
- Tuesday Humor: GM Announces It Is Losing Money On Every Volt Sold, Will Make Up For It With More Losse (ZeroHedge, April 30, 2013):
In what should not come as a major surprise to anyone, GM just announced that:
- GM SAYS LOSING MONEY ON EVERY VOLT SOLD
There is good news: being implicitly funded by the US taxpayer means never admitting failure. In fact, the faster one fails, the faster one gets bailed out.
- GM SAYS NOT GIVING UP ON VOLT
And when failure is not an option, the only other option is even greater failure. And even bigger losses.
- GM SAYS NEXT GEN VOLT WILL BE $7,000 TO $10,000 CHEAPER
Slowly but surely everyone is figuring out that in the USSA, where making a profit is becoming increasingly impossible, the only credible business model is that of Amazon: lose lots of money but make up for it in volume.
- Lamborghini Unveils $3.9 Million Supercar To Celebrate Its 50th Birthday (Business Insider, March 5, 2013):
The Geneva Motor Show is in full swing after opening to the press this morning, but things really kicked off last night when Lamborghini unveiled the highly anticipated supercar it created to mark its 50th birthday.
Named for a legendary fighting bull, the Veneno checks off all the supercar must-haves: Carbon fiber body construction, a striking body style made with aerodynamics in mind, and an eye-popping price tag.
At $3.9 million, the Veneno is the most expensive Lamborghini ever built and is among history’s priciest production cars.
Its 6.5-liter, 12-cylinder engine will produce a whopping 750 horsepower, enough to send the car from from 0 to 62 mph in 2.8 seconds, and up to a top speed of 220 mph.
- French Socialist Nightmare: ‘The State Cannot Do Everything’ (Testosterone Pit, Feb 8, 2013):
The preannouncement came Thursday evening: PSA Peugeot Citroën, France’s largest automaker, would have a write-down of €4.7 billion. On top of a hefty operating loss. It would be colossal. An all-time record. Rumors spread immediately that PSA would need a bailout. The second in four months.
PSA passenger car sales in France dropped nearly 17% in 2012 from an already awful 2011. In January they dropped another 16.7%. Sales for all automakers dropped 15%, and PSA’s market share had eroded further. Kia-Hyundai sales jumped 21.2%, the only major automaker with gains. Even Volkswagen Group got clobbered: down 23.9%. PSA isn’t internationally diversified enough. It doesn’t have much in China and nothing in the US, the largest markets in the world, both growing. It’s mired in Europe where auto sales have ground to a halt. It’s bleeding €200 million a month. It’s trying to lay off 8,000 workers and shutter its plant in Aulnay-sous-Bois. And its Banque PSA Finance was bailed out last October with €7 billion in taxpayer money.
The government was so worried that it was actively studying a bailout, sources told the Liberation after the losses were announced. It was just hypothetical. “But if a capital infusion would become inevitable, the state could participate,” the source said. Instantly, a cacophony of discord erupted—within the Socialist government.
Audi, BMW and VW ranked in the bottom 10 of a study into engine reliability
– German cars ‘among worst for engine failures’ (Auto Express, Jan 18, 2013):
German-made cars are not as reliable as many believe, according to new research. Warranty Direct has studied its claims data to compile a list of the manufacturers with the most reliable engines – and Audi, BMW and Volkswagen all finished in the bottom 10 out of a total 36 makers.
In fact, the only firm whose cars had a worse engine failure rate than Audi was MG Rover. MINI wasn’t much better, finishing third from bottom, while its parent company BMW came seventh from bottom. And, despite its reputation for rock-solid reliability, Volkswagen came ninth from bottom.
- As Cars Burn In France, The Industry Of Hope Booms (Testosterone Pit, Jan 3, 2013):
New Year’s Eve was the main event. And it didn’t disappoint: 1,193 vehicles were burned in France in the course of a few hours, said Interior Minister Manuel Valls. Up 4% from 2009, when 1,147 vehicles were burned. A tradition no one has the balls to explain. In the days leading up to the annual rite, Valls had promised “complete transparence,” in contrast to the Sarkozy government, which had hushed up the numbers since 2009. But it’s a year-round event: 40,244 vehicles were burned during 2011 and 43,568 the year before. Even Valls was “shocked” by these numbers.
But the massive destruction of functional vehicles (most of them paid for by insurance) wasn’t nearly enough to bail out the automakers. New vehicle sales for the year 2012 dropped 13.9% from the already miserable levels of 2011. Only 1.89 million vehicles were sold, a low not seen since 1997, despite the growth of the population. Particularly alarming: sales by French automakers collapsed, PSA Peugeot Citroen by 17.5%, Renault by 22.1%. All hopes had been riding on their new models—the Peugeot 208 and the Renault Clio 4—which hit the market in the fall, but those hopes have since evaporated.
Other automakers got clobbered as well: Ford was down 19.8%, Fiat, which hardly anyone is buying anymore, fell 23.7%, only to be outdone by GM’s beleaguered Opel, down 23.8%. But there were winners: BMW was up 2.3%, Mercedes 5.3%, and Hyundai-Kia 28.2%! So the French automakers, like other French industries, have a complex problem: uncompetitive products in a morose market with unemployment that has been climbing with incessant brutality, and a tax quagmire of unprecedented proportions [“Trench Warfare” Or “Civil War” Over Confiscatory Taxes In France].
- Chart Of The Day: The Unprecedented Implosion Of European Car Sales (ZeroHedge, Dec 4, 2012):
The graphic below, which presents an unvarnished picture of Europe’s true economic state, needs no explanation:
In the context of the above, no explanation is also needed that quietly, and without much fanfare, French car-maker, Peugeot, and Europe’s second largest after VW, was recently GMed, and received a government bailout.
Carmaker Peugeot gets $9.1B government bailout
The French government has agreed to underwrite up to €7 billion ($9.1 billion) of bonds issued by Banque PSA Finance SA, the financing unit of carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen SA, allowing the French automaker to offer low-cost credit to its dealerships and clients amid a slump in sales.
- Fisker Karma Is First Car To Burn Underwater (ZeroHedge, Nov 1, 2012):
The plight of the infamous, and quite inflammable, Fisker Karma (not to mention its now defaulted battery vendor A123) has been extensively documented on these pages in the past. Today, we bring it up again, to observe a curious extra feature which its proud buyers may have been unaware of. It appears that, as Jalopnik reports, the car only free government loans with a 0% (or even negative) IRR hurdle rate could conceive, is now the first one to proudly announce it is the only one of its type that merrily burns down… while submerged underwater. We fully expect that the next generation of Fiskers will charge at least $995 for this non-optional standard feature. In other news, perhaps it is time for Karma to issue yet another comprehensive total recall of all of its cars due to “fire risk” – the last one seems to have missed a spark plug or two: they can say this is a recall for the risk of “burning down alive while fully submerged underwater.“
Approximately 16 of the $100,000+ Fisker Karma extended-range luxury hybrids were parked in Port Newark, New Jersey last night when water from Hurricane Sandy’s storm surge apparently breached the port and submerged the vehicles. As Jalopnik has exclusively learned, the cars then caught fire and burned to the ground. Continue reading »
- More Bad News Imminent: August US Auto Production Set To Plunge By Most In 16 Months (ZeroHedge, Aug 20, 2012)
Over the past several months, many pundits were scratching their heads at the peculiar patterns in summer hiring and layoff trends, which threw all NFP, claims, and JOLTs forecasts in a loop making a mockery of even the best forecasters. The reality is that there was a very specific reason for this abnormal seasonal pattern: numerous car plants worked throughout the summer, avoiding traditional temporary shutdowns and furloughs, in an attempt to provide an optical boost to the Union-endorsed administration. And as always happens (see Cash for Clunkers), every attempt to pull demand or supply from the future to the present results in an eventual collapse in either of these two. Sure enough, with June and July reaping the benefits of advance demand, August is set be an absolutely abysmal month for US auto assemblies and for Industrial Production. Because as Stone McCarthy calculates, based on projections provided by Wards Autos, the U.S. motor vehicle assembly rate for August is projected to decline by 8% to a 10.1 million annualized rate after rising by 4.4% in July. This would be the biggest monthly percentage decline in the assembly rate in about a year and a half, since April 2011’s 9.5% drop.
SMRA continues: Continue reading »
Necessity is the mother of invention, and for Palestinians living on the West Bank trying to break their dependence on Israel for energy has resulted in a new solar powered vehicle.
The four-seater is covered in solar panels to convert the suns rays into energy to power a small electric motor which pushes the vehicle along at 20 Kph for about 10 hours. And if the sun doesn’t shine it can be plugged into the wall, and the battery recharged from the mains.
It looks a bit like an over-sized golf cart and took the Royal Industrial Trading Company around two months and $5000 to develop. Continue reading »
- Contaminated Japanese cars rejected by Russian custom office (Fukushima Diary, Aug 12, 2012):
Series of cars from Japan are seized at port in Russia.
On 7/27/2012, Ria Novosti reported radioactive contaminated cars from Japan were seized by Russian custom at Korsakov port in the south part of Sakhalin.
America’s largest car firm made $1.5bn in the second quarter of 2012, with European division reporting operating loss of $361m
- GM profits slip 41% as European struggles take their toll (Guardian, Aug 2, 2012):
General Motors’ profits fell 41% in the second quarter as troubles in Europe undercut strong sales in North America.
America’s largest automaker made $1.5bn in the second quarter of 2012, compared with $2.5bn for the same period last year. Revenue fell to $37.6bn from $39.4bn in the second quarter of 2011. The results exceeded analysts’ estimates, but further underlined Europe’s drag on the US economy.
“Our results in North America were solid, but we clearly have more work to do to offset the headwinds we face, especially in regions like Europe and South America,” said GM chairman and CEO Dan Akerson. “Despite the challenging environment, GM has now achieved 10 consecutive quarters of profitability, which is a milestone the company has not achieved in more than a decade.”
- Chinese Ultra-Luxury Car Bubble Pops As 1 Year Old Used Lambo Gallardo Sells 70% Off Sticker (ZeroHedge, July 31, 2012):
Rumors are circulating that reports of the demise of the Chinese auto market may be exaggerated now that even David Einhorn is forced to defend his GM long (because it “has a strong cash position” – sure, and stuffs channels like no other) however stripped of stereotypes and hype, the reality is that even the one time impregnable ultra luxury car market in China is now faltering at an ever faster pace. BusinessWeek reports: “Waiting lists for ultra-luxury cars in Hong Kong are getting shorter and used-car lots are cutting prices on Lamborghinis, Ferraris and Bentleys in the latest sign of China’s slowdown. At first glance, the numbers are deceiving: Sales of very expensive new autos surged 47 percent in the first six months, according to industry analyst IHS Automotive. Look more deeply, however, and another picture emerges, especially in the city’s used-car lots.” The picture is ugly: ““The more expensive the car, the more dry the business,” said Tommy Siu at the Causeway Bay showroom of Vin’s Motors Co., the used-car dealership he founded two decades ago. Sales of ultra-luxury cars have halved in the past two or three months, he said. “A lot of bankers don’t want to spend too much money for a car now. At this moment, they don’t know if they’ll have a big bonus.”” Sad: they should all just go to Singapore and manipulate Libor. Oh wait, too soon?
Curiously, unlike virtually every other manipulated asset class, Hong Kong car sales provide a somewhat insulated view into the heart of China’s beating economy: Continue reading »
- GM’s Channel Stuffing Goes To Germany: Is Europe’s Largest Economy A Fraud? (ZeroHedge, July 31, 2012)
We have long argued that auto manufacturers have been channel-stuffing (and subprime-lending) themselves back into a disaster and as such class-action lawsuits have begun. Recently we also pointed out the epidemic of dealer-inventory-stuffing in China (and again this morning the Chinese luxury car market’s over-stuffing). So today’s report from Reuters that German auto manufacturers have been stuffing dealer channels just like the rest of the world as Europe’s largest car market is in recession even if few outside of the industry would know it. “Essentially, the carmakers are deceiving their shareholders, since they make it look as if the vehicles were actually sold. They want to pull the wool over their eyes,” as three in every ten new vehicles in Germany are sold not to customers, but to carmakers and their dealers – a type of automotive industry pump priming known as “self-registration”. At nearly half a million such registrations in the six months through June, the total is greater than the entire new car market in Spain. Is Germany’s economy really what it is reported to be given all this fake demand pull-forward – or is it a total fraud?
Reality versus ‘official’ figures: Continue reading »
- U.S. Government blocks sales of fuel-efficient cars (Natural News, June 15, 2012):
The development of affordable “green” cars and trucks – electric vehicles or hybrids designed to dramatically curb the nation’s reliance on fossil fuels – is supposed to be a primary goal for the Obama administration and a number of government and industry leaders. But what about diesel-burning vehicles that already get more than 70 miles a gallon?
Yes, you read that right. There are already vehicles on the road – nice vehicles, not bread boxes with weed-eater motors on wheels – that get better than 70 miles to a gallon of diesel fuel. Only, you can’t buy one here in the United States. More on that later.
- Volvo’s self-drive ‘convoy’ hits the Spanish motorway (BBC News, May 29, 2012):
A convoy of self-driven cars has completed a 200km (125-mile) journey on a Spanish motorway, in the first public test of such vehicles.
The cars were wirelessly linked to each other and “mimicked” a lead vehicle, driven by a professional driver.
The so-called road train has been developed by Volvo. The firm is confident that they will be widely available in future.
The project aims to herald a new age of relaxed driving.
- Hate To Break It To You, But Your Car Likely Has A Black Box ‘Spying’ On You Already (Forbes, April 19, 2012):
The big news in automotive privacy this week is that Congress is on the verge of passing a transportation bill that will make “big brother” black boxes mandatory in all new cars. InfoWars is encouraging drivers to freak out about the horrific invasion of privacy represented by the government’s insisting that all Americans have event data recorders that reveal exactly what happened before and after a crash. But the truth of the matter is that most Americans already have black boxes in their cars. They’ve been around since 1996, are found in at least 60 million vehicles, and are a feature in 85% of new cars every year.
“Virtually every car that has an air bag has some kind of recording ability,” says James Casassa, of Wolf Forensics which specializes in downloading crash information from vehicles made by GM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota and Honda. The recorders capture information about how fast you were going and whether you slammed on the brakes in the seconds before and after a crash. They capture just a snapshot, not a continual record of your driving activity — which would be far more concerning for privacy. (But don’t worry! You can get a far more invasive event recorder from your insurance company if you’re looking to lower your car insurance rates.)
- 500 Used Cars to Be Shipped from Nagoya Port Have Exceeded Radiation Limit Since August Last Year (EX-SKF, Feb. 25, 2012):
That’s when they started testing, and 500 used cars from Nagoya Port alone.
Japanese used cars are popular in Russia, Southeast Asia, and Africa. Despite the nuclear accident, the number of exported used cars in 2011 increased slightly over 2010 to 857,779 cars according to the Used Car Export Industry News, with Russia at the top with over 110K followed by the United Arab Emirates.
Kyodo News (2/25/2012):
Nagoya Port Authority disclosed on February 25 that 500 used cars were found with radiation levels at or exceeding 0.3 microsievert/hour, the standard set by the [used car] industry from August last year to January this year, and that the cars were returned to the shippers.
- Starting March 1st, A Red License Plate in Nevada Means the Driver is a Robot! (Singularity Hub, Feb. 22, 2012):
An extended campaign in Nevada by Google has led to a new host of provisions which will allow automated cars to legally drive in the state. Starting March 1st, 2012 innovators like Google can officially apply for a new kind of robot driver’s license that will give them permission to openly test their cars on the road. Automated vehicles will be able to travel the same streets and highways as human drivers, with only a red license plate marking them as robots. Once research on those automated cars is complete (which may take years), the Nevada Department of Motorized Vehicles will issue them a neon green license plate – an indication that the robot drivers are good to go. Google, whose robotic Prius cars have already driven 200,000+ miles in California quasi-legally, will undoubtedly take full advantage of Nevada’s openness and further develop their technology for general use. Just as important, other states like Hawaii, Florida, and Oklahoma may follow Nevada’s example, paving the way for robot cars to operate all across the United States.
- #Radioactive Car Emitting 279 Microsieverts/Hr, Reports Asahi Shinbun (EX-SKF, Dec. 30, 2011):
I don’t know why Asahi is putting out this lame article right now, as it sure looks like the information was there already back in June.
(What surprised me more about the article was that there were over 6,400 workers at the plant at the time of the earthquake/tsunami on March 11.)
All through the summer, as I wrote in my previous post on another radioactive car, there were rumors of cars inside the 20-kilometer “no-entry zone” being shipped outside the zone without any testing, either to the owners or to the used car dealers who sold the cars inside Japan. There is no standard for radiation for used cars sold inside Japan. Back in those days, people who raised the issue of radioactive cars and trucks out of Fukushima were often branded as “racist” discriminating against people in and from Fukushima in both the alternative media and in the MSM.
This blog already reported on the truck in Iwaki City that was emitting 1 millisieverts/hour (1,000 microsieverts/hour) radiation back in August.
From Asahi Shinbun digital version (12/31/2011):
東 京電力福島第一原発の事故当時、原発敷地内に駐車していて高濃度に汚染された東電社員らの車について、東電が適切な管理を怠っていた。なかには、中古車市 場に流通したり、近隣住民との間でトラブルを起こしたりしている車も出ている。専門家は「放射線量の高い車は、敷地内で発生したがれきと同様に扱うべき だ」と指摘している。
TEPCO didn’t do a proper management of cars belonging to TEPCO employees parked inside Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant at the time of the accident and heavily contaminated with radiation. Some of the cars have been sold in the used car market, others causing problems with the neighbors where the cars are parked. Experts say “Highly radioactive cars should be treated in the same manner as the debris inside the plant compound”.