Later On

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Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

GM “bullied” manufacturer over poorly designed part

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Very interesting story, and it seems to destroy Raymond DeGiorgio’s claim that he didn’t remember making the alteration to the part. The report by Bill Vlasic in the NY Times begins:

DETROIT — General Motors pressured a supplier to continue producing a substandard ignition switch a decade ago and leaned on the company to improve it even though it could not be fixed, a newly disclosed email shows.

The switch, made by Delphi, has become the focus of a safety crisis at G.M. and is linked to at least 33 deaths and dozens of injuries.

In the email, part of internal Delphi correspondence in 2005, a Delphi official said the company was pressured by G.M. to make the faulty switch work even though it did not meet G.M.’s own standard and continued to fail in testing.

It is the first publicly disclosed document showing Delphi’s longstanding concerns with the switch, and it demonstrates how G.M. pushed Delphi to continue to manufacture a faulty part. The email, which was reviewed by The New York Times, was introduced as evidence in a sweeping collection of lawsuits against G.M. and was made public on Friday.

A Delphi official, Thomas Svoboda, wrote in the email that Delphi was intimidated by a G.M. engineer, Raymond DeGiorgio, into accepting the switch’s design. . .

Continue reading.

It seems like GM has pretty consistently lied and tried to cover this up.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 November 2014 at 12:09 pm

Posted in Business, Law

Wall Street sees how much money is in pension funds, decides to siphon off as much as they can

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Murtaza Hussain reports at The Intercept:

Coverage of the midterm elections has, understandably, focused on the shift in political power from Democrats toward Republicans. But behind the scenes, another major story has been playing out. Wall Street spent upwards of $300M to influence the election results. And a key part of its agenda has been a plan to move more and more of the $3 trillion dollars in unguarded government pension funds into privately managed, high-fee investments — a shift that may well constitute the biggest financial story of our generation that you’ve never heard of.

Illinois, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island all recently elected governors who were previously executives and directors at firms which managed investments on behalf of state pension funds. These firms are now, consequently, in position to obtain even more of these public funds. This alone represents a huge payoff on that $300M investment made by the financial industry, and is likely to result in more pension money going into investments which offer great benefits for Wall Street but do little for the broader economy.

But Wall Street’s agenda goes beyond any one election cycle. It has been fighting to turn public pensions into private profits for quite some time, steering retirement nest eggs into investments that are complex, charge hefty fees, and that generate big profits for management firms. And it has been succeeding. Of the $3 trillion in public assets currently in pension funds throughout the country, almost a quarter of that has already found its way into so-called “alternative investments” like hedge funds, private equity and real estate. That translates to roughly $660 billion of public money now under private management, invested in assets that are often arcane and opaque but that offer high management and placement fees to Wall Street financiers.

Our recent financial crisis demonstrated just how risky and potentially destructive these types of assets can be — so the question becomes, why is so much money going into them?

David Sirota has been one of the few journalists to cover this story in depth, and to expose the widespread political corruption that’s gone along with it. “It’s one of the biggest economic stories in the world because the amounts of money are so huge” says Sirota. “It is happening in every state and every city in the country.”

In 2011 the Wall Street Journal reported that the Blackstone Group — one of the largest private equity firms in the world, with an investment pool of $111 billion dollars — saw “about $37 of every $100” of its funds come from investments from state and local pension plans. That’s a huge sum, and it’s therefore unsurprising that Blackstone lobbies state governments to help steer more pension money its way. . .

Continue reading.

Stopping this would require a functional Congress that wants to protect citizens. Thus it will be hard to stop.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 November 2014 at 11:17 am

Organizational learning in action: Barilla pays attention

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Quite a good turnaround. Sandhya Somashekhar reports in the Washington Post:

Not long ago, pasta-maker Barilla was just one more major company that had run afoul of the gay rights movement, a distinction it earned last year when its chairman said he would never feature a same-sex couple in an ad. If gays didn’t like it, he added, they could eat something else.

But in a sign of how toxic it has become for a company to be viewed as unfriendly toward gays, Barilla has made a dramatic turnaround in the space of one year, expanding health benefits for transgender workers and their families, contributing money to gay rights causes, and featuring a lesbian couple on a promotional Web site.

Barilla has journeyed from gay rights pariah to poster child — on Wednesday it received a perfect score from a prominent gay rights group that rates companies on their gay-friendliness. It is an about-face that highlights how companies, which typically shy away from controversy, are increasingly being forced to take sides in the cultural battle over gay rights and same-sex marriage — and how decisively pro-gay forces have gained the upper hand.

Other household-name brands have also found themselves in hot water over actions that were perceived to be anti-gay. Target, for example, strived to make amends after coming under fire in 2010 for political contributions that supported a Minnesota gubernatorial candidate who opposed same-sex marriage. Chick-fil-A stopped giving to certain organizations in 2012 after earning the ire of gay rights groups that accused the fast-food chain of supporting anti-gay causes. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

19 November 2014 at 2:49 pm

Posted in Business, Daily life

Wow! Uber apparently does track critics

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And if they’re tracking people, they’re looking for dirt. Emil Michael wasn’t just making idle conversation, he was (in effect) warning the journalist by telling him what Uber “could” do (i.e., has done). Ellen Cushing reports in San Francisco Magazine:

While I was reporting my recent cover story on Uber and its CEO Travis Kalanick, several current and former Uber employees warned me that company higher-ups might access my rider logs. Because I couldn’t independently verify these claims without sacrificing my sources’ anonymity, I didn’t include them in the final piece.

However, in light of Buzzfeed’s latest revelations about Uber executives discussing hiring opposition researchers to dig into the personal life of a reporter, Sarah Lacy, who had repeatedly criticized the company, these threats against my own privacy appear to be less of a paranoid possibility than I’d originally thought.

It’s worth noting here that as far as I know, the company hasn’t looked into my logs. After talking to Uber staffers, it’s quite clear that the company stokes paranoia in its employees about talking to the press, so there’s a solid possibility that my sources’ fears were just the result of overzealous (and unfounded) precaution. But when I contacted a former employee last night about the news, this person told me that “it’s not very hard to access the travel log information they’re talking about. I have no idea who is ‘auditing’ this log or access information. At least when I was there, any employee could access rider rating information, as I was able to do it. How much deeper you could go with regular access, I’m not sure, as I didn’t try.” A second former employee told me something similar, saying “I never heard anything about execs digging into reporters’ travel logs, though it would be easy for them to do so.”

While I was conducting reporting, however, a current employee told me that he or she had access to my (and presumably other peoples’) rider logs. (Again, I can’t confirm whether or not this is true.) This summer, the venture capitalist turned author Peter Sims revealed in a post on Medium that the company had broadcast his real-time user data to a party in Chicago in 2012. And Smith’s post relayed an unrelated incident in which an Uber NYC staffer accessed Buzzfeed reporter Johana Bhuiyan’s personal data in the course of making a point about the company to her. . .

Continue reading.

One thing I notice is often omitted from the news reports of Emil Michael’s plan: the idea was to dig up dirt to damage the journalist AND HER FAMILY. They were going to go after family members. I think that is worth noting.

Written by LeisureGuy

19 November 2014 at 2:44 pm

Posted in Business, Media

Uber allegedly tracked journalist with internal tool called ‘God View’

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So Uber is all set up to track their customers and see every trip they’ve made: from origin to destination with dates and times. And they’ve given the app a cool name and undoubtedly it’s being used (as I noted yesterday) by low-level employees to stalk love interests and celebrities—after all, NSA found that some of its analysts were using NSA capabilities for such purposes, and it’s perfectly clear that Uber has a much more free-swinging, anything-goes culture than the NSA.

Written by LeisureGuy

19 November 2014 at 9:53 am

Posted in Business

Best healthcare system in the world

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Canadian mother finds what US medicine is like when she gets a $1 million bill for a childbirth. (Had she been in Canada, her bill would have been $0: socialized medicine.) You’ll note that the insurance company found a way to avoid paying anything: that’s what insurance companies try to do. They’re in business to make money, not help the insured. They will help if there’s no way around it, but if there is a way, you won’t see them for dust.

Written by LeisureGuy

19 November 2014 at 9:42 am

Posted in Business, Healthcare

The Mafia and Wall Street: Parallels and possible partnership

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Pam Martens in Wall Street on Parade notes:

Every now and then, someone raises the question of Mafia infiltration on Wall Street or suggests that Wall Street has become an Ivy-league educated, better tailored version of the mob. Now, two lawyers, Helen Davis Chaitman and Lance Gotthoffer have dramatically ratcheted up the debate, suggesting boldly in the latest chapter of their free on-line book that there are stark parallels between the Gambino crime family and JPMorgan Chase – the nation’s largest bank.

Writer Matt Taibbi had a similar epiphany back in 2012 in an article for Rolling Stone titled The Scam Wall Street Learned from the Mafiathe story of how major Wall Street firms conspired together to rig bidding in the municipal bond market. Taibbi writes: “In fact, stripped of all the camouflaging financial verbiage, the crimes the defendants and their co-conspirators committed were virtually indistinguishable from the kind of thuggery practiced for decades by the Mafia, which has long made manipulation of public bids for things like garbage collection and construction contracts a cornerstone of its business.”

In 2009, the book, Nothing but Money by New York Daily News reporter Greg B. Smith was released, detailing actual Mafia infiltration in stock pump and dump schemes on Wall Street, albeit at small firms. That was preceded in 2003 by Born to Steal: When the Mafia Hit Wall Street by long-time business writer and author, Gary Weiss.  The Weiss book took an in-depth look at Mob-run stock brokerage firms selling phantom stocks by following the career of one of the stock swindlers, Louis Pasciuto, who eventually turned state witness.

But what attorneys Chaitman and Gotthoffer are doing is extraordinary and unprecedented. They are asking the public to seriously look at the parallels between the Mafia and JPMorgan Chase, a bank holding over $1.7 trillion in Federal Reserve assetsand more than $1.3 trillion in deposits, the bulk of which are insured by the FDIC and ultimately backstopped by the U.S. taxpayer.

Chaitman is a nationally recognized litigator and author of The Law of Lender Liability. She is also a Bernie Madoff victim who lost a large part of her life savings to his Ponzi scheme and then tenaciously represented other victims of his fraud in district and appellate courts. Chaitman has teamed up with fellow attorney, Lance Gotthoffer, to conduct an exhaustive investigation of the intersection of the Madoff fraud with the bank that was criminally charged by the U.S. Justice Department in the matter – JPMorgan Chase. (The bank signed a deferred prosecution agreement and paid $1.7 billion to the Madoff victims’ fund to avoid prosecution.)

The book is titled JPMadoff: The Unholy Alliance Between America’s Biggest Bank and America’s Biggest Crook. The authors are releasing a new chapter of the book each month as well as a quick means of contacting your legislator in Washington to urge Congress toact in the interests of the American people, not in the interests of the financial institutions that are rich enough to make significant contributions.”

The latest chapter looks at the culture inside JPMorgan and provides a detailed portrait of some of the main insiders: among them, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

19 November 2014 at 9:37 am

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