December 18, 2009
One of the themes that came up while I was profiling White House manufacturing czar Ron Bloom earlier this fall was managerial talent. A lot of people talk about reviving the domestic manufacturing sector, which has shed almost one-third of its manpower over the last eight years. But some of the people I spoke to asked a slightly different question: Even if you could reclaim a chunk of those blue-collar jobs, would you have the managers you need to supervise them? It’s not obvious that you would.
How to Save Detroit
December 09, 2009
For much of the United States, Detroit has become shorthand for failure--not just because of the dilapidation of the town’s iconic industry, but because the entire metropolis seems like a dystopian disaster.
December 07, 2009
A few weeks after the 2008 presidential election, United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard got a call from an Obama transition aide frantic for advice on the collapsing auto industry. Gerard put his numbers guy on the call, a former investment banker named Ron Bloom, who proceeded to offer a detailed disquisition on the financial situations of GM and Chrysler. Unlike other experts the transition team had consulted, Bloom was refreshingly blunt about the companies’ prospects, which he deemed grim.
Some Backstory on the GM Shakeup
December 02, 2009
It looks like there might be something to my initial hunch that GM CEO Fritz Henderson was ousted because the company is now stable enough to make a change it's board has wanted to make for a while. Today's Times story explores that angle a bit, in any case: According to a person with direct knowledge of the board’s deliberations, there was no final straw that led to Mr. Henderson’s forced resignation. Rather, G.M.’s directors began discussing weeks ago that the company needed to seek an outsider to lead the company. “Fritz was just not enough of a change agent,” that person said.
GM's CEO Resigns--Could That Be a Good Sign?
December 01, 2009
It looks like Fritz Henderson, who only took over as GM's CEO back in March, has been forced out by the company's board. From the Times: General Motors said Tuesday that its chief executive, Fritz Henderson, was resigning and would be succeeded on an interim basis by the automaker’s new chairman, Edward E. Whitacre Jr. ... Mr. Henderson became chief of G.M. after the previous chief executive, Rick Wagoner, was asked to resign in March by President Obama’s auto task force. But in a sign that the company’s board is dissatisfied with G.M.’s progress, Mr.
November 21, 2009
The Editors: Don't complain about CEO pay. Just break up the banks.
Would UAW Wage Concessions Have Been Good for Louisville?
November 05, 2009
Just after Ford Motor Company announced third-quarter profits of nearly $1 billion, its UAW-represented workers rejected a package of concessions including a wage freeze for newly hired workers and a no-strike pledge when the current contract expires in 2011. The concessions would have put Ford’s labor costs on par with those that GM and Chrysler obtained earlier this year. Those concessions, in turn, brought the companies’ wages and benefits down to the levels of the (non-union) Japanese manufacturers with plants here.
The Pay Czar Is Making Sense
October 06, 2009
I was pretty dubious that Ken Feinberg, the administration pay czar, would have much effect on Wall Street compensation--even at the handful of TARP basket-cases (AIG, GM, BofA, Citi, etc.) where you'd expect the administration to have leverage. In weaker moments, I even imagined Feinberg as a kind of a fig leaf, whose very existence confirmed that the White House didn't think there was much to be done about executive pay.
Should You Buy A Chevy Volt?
August 12, 2009
Well, that's really up to you, but if you're wondering whether GM's pricey new plug-in hybrid will pay for itself in gas savings, Daniel Indiviglio over at The Atlantic does some back-of-the-envelope scribbling. According to GM (and these numbers aren't yet verified), the Volt will get the equivalent of 230 miles per gallon in the city.
Did Bank Lobbyists Write Obama's Reform Proposal?
June 18, 2009
What is the essence of the problem with our financial system--what brought us into deep crisis, what scared us most in September/October of last year, and what was the toughest problem in the early days of the Obama administration? The issue was definitely not that banks and non-banks could fail in general. We're good at handling some kinds of financial failure. The problem was: a relatively small number of troubled banks were so large that their failure could imperil both our financial system and the world economy. And--at least in the view of Treasury--these banks were so large that they cou