Company Competitor

Low Voltage

Auto industry buffs love the Chevy Volt, the new electric car from General Motors. But buyers? Not so much. At least, not yet. Chevrolet sold just 281 Volts in February, after selling just 321 in January. The car is selling far better than its closest competitor, the Nissan Leaf, but the volume is obviously low. GM says the problem is lack of supply, not lack of demand, and that sales will pick up once the company can make more cars. Fast Company has the story: Slow sales of the Volt are actually part of a planned strategy, explains Volt spokesperson Rob Peterson.

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I have to say, I'm underwhelmed by the ideas the company is tossing around so far. Per this morning's Times piece: Goldman said Thursday that it would donate $200 million to its charitable foundation (that figure represents 6 percent of its third-quarter profit, or about six days of earnings). Rumors are swirling on Wall Street that Goldman might donate even more money to charity, perhaps as much as $1 billion, in an effort to defuse public resentment directed at the bank. Mr. Blankfein has even urged his free-spending bankers to be mindful of conspicuous consumption.

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New statistics show that U.S. students are struggling to learn basic math. The 2009 results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in math, a test given every two years to fourth- and eighth-graders nationwide, were released this week.

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So should we believe in the recent rally in bank stocks? Today's Journal hits on one reason to be skeptical: At the 15 stress-tested banks that have raised capital by selling stock to the public, no senior executives have recently reported buying shares themselves, according to Jonathan Moreland, director of research at InsiderInsights.com. The New York firm tracks stock-buying and selling patterns among corporate executives. In January and February, for example, Bank of America Chief Executive Kenneth Lewis and J.P.

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Exxonmobil's Slingshot

Sometimes it almost seems as if these Wall Street folks want to be stormed by pitchfork-wielding mobs.

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Next week, the slow, inexorable decline of newspapers will be marked by another datapoint when Bruce Sherman, the 61-year-old CEO of Private Capital Management, retires. For those who have followed the newspaper industry's financial travails, Sherman--who's not related to me--was the money manager who forced the merger of Knight Ridder to McClatchy back in 2006, and then, along with Morgan Stanley fund manager Hassan Elmasry, took on Arthur Sulzberger at the New York Times Company. In the debut issue of Cond

A few important addenda to my earlier item about the links between Goldman and AIG, which the Times editorial page took up today. First, a thoughtful item from Portfolio's Felix Salmon casting doubt on the theory that the AIG bailout was conceived as a Goldman bailout: I do think that Geithner should be asked about the firms threatened by an AIG collapse, however, and I do think that he should reply in detail.

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It's never that surprising to hear that some companies aren't nearly as "green" as they claim to be, but sometimes the examples are worth examining in detail.

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On the cover of this Sunday's New York Times Book Review, Times managing editor Jill Abramson wrote a 3,400-word piece assessing Bob Woodward's bestseller The War Within. Her review offers a broad, largely positive survey of the previous three installments in Woodward's Bush series, writing that "his books offer a definitive portrait" of the president "in real time." A little more than halfway through the piece, Abramson trains her critic's eye back on herself and reflects on the Times's controversial pre-war coverage of Saddam Hussein's W.M.D program.

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Today's New York Times has some of the backstory on the vice presidential selection process and why Barack Obama ultimately settled on Joe Biden. The overarching narrative is more or less what it appeared to be. According to the article, which is by Jeff Zeleny and Jim Rutenberg, Obama was initially wary of Biden. But research by his vetting team and conversations with some of Biden's longtime Senate colleagues, including Congressman Rahm Emanuel, Senator Ted Kennedy, and Governor Ed Rendell, convinced Obama that Biden was a "worker"--and somebody whom Obama could trust.

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