Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

How stupid can government financial regulators be?

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This stupid.

And will it be stopped? Well, this is the Obama administration.

Written by LeisureGuy

16 September 2014 at 2:09 pm

The Fed will make a mistake if it listens to those repeatedly proved wrong

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You’d think it would be obvious. It’s not, but Jeff Madrick has a good summary.

Written by LeisureGuy

16 September 2014 at 2:04 pm

Posted in Business, Government

About as damning a news story as I’ve ever read

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This NY Times article by Hilary Stout and Aaron Kessler totally eviscerates the NHSTA and rightly so.

One point: Note this passage, where the acting head of the NHSTA attempted to shift blame to GM:

But Mr. Friedman sought to shift the focus to G.M.. “G.M. violated the law,” he said, a point lawmakers agreed with. “They violated the law when they failed to act at a time when air bags were not working properly in millions of their products.”

What Mr. Friedman fails to grasp (among other things, including his job) is that the committee is investigating what is wrong wit the NHSTA. The fact that things are wrong with GM is a totally separate inquiry, and things can (and actually seem to) be very wrong indeed with GM, but that has nothing to do with whether anything’s wrong at NHSTA. And something very obviously is. Later in the article:

The session comes after the release of a new and highly critical report from House investigators, examining the agency’s performance on the G.M. ignition issue. That inquiry found many of the same problems that Mr. Friedman chastised G.M. for, including that the safety agency repeatedly overlooked information that would have allowed it to detect the ignition flaw as early as 2007.

Read the whole story. This is public—and deserved—humiliation.

And take note of the elephant in the room: The story relates:

In addition, no meaningful changes within the agency have occurred since the G.M. recalls began in February, the House report found. “No one has been held accountable and no substantial changes have been made,” the report states.

And who is not doing his job in this case? President Obama, whose words ring increasingly hollow. Should he not have long since set in motion measures to shake up and reform NHSTA?

Written by LeisureGuy

16 September 2014 at 1:30 pm

What it looks like when a government agency fails in its mission

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Many government agencies have been so underfunded and so subjected to industry manipulation that they are no longer even pretending to fulfill their responsibilities to the public. One of these, as Hilary Stout, Danielle Ivory, and Rebecca Ruiz point out in the NY Times, is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

General Motors published an article in February on its Chevrolet website trumpeting an achievement certain to help sell a lot of cars.

Its 2014 Chevys had earned more five-star overall safety ratings in a new car assessment program than had any other brand.

The next day, G.M. began recalling millions of its cars for a deadly ignition defect, and by August, six of the eight five-star Chevrolet models had been recalled for a variety of safety issues, including defects in air bags, brakes and steering. Five had been recalled multiple times.

It was an embarrassing turn — but not just for the embattled automaker. The stellar rankings had been awarded by the federal regulatory agency that is mandated by Congress to ensure the safety of automobiles.

The agency, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, has a record of missteps that goes well beyond its failure to detect an ignition switch defect in several models of G.M. cars now linked to at least 13 deaths.

An investigation by The New York Times into the agency’s handling of major safety defects over the past decade found that it frequently has been slow to identify problems, tentative to act and reluctant to employ its full legal powers against companies.

The Times analyzed agency correspondence, regulatory documents and public databases and interviewed congressional and executive branch investigators, former agency employees and auto safety experts. It found that in many of the major vehicle safety issues of recent years — including unintended acceleration in Toyotas, fires in Jeep fuel tanks and air bag ruptures in Hondas, as well as the G.M. ignition defect — the agency did not take a leading role until well after the problems had reached a crisis level, safety advocates had sounded alarms and motorists were injured or died.

Not only does the agency spend about as much money rating new cars — a favorite marketing tool for automakers — as it does investigating potentially deadly manufacturing defects, but it also has been so deferential to automakers that it made a key question it poses about fatal accidents optional — a policy it is only now changing after inquiries from The Times.

Jean Bookout was injured, and her passenger, Barbara Schwarz, was killed in 2007 when the 2005 Toyota Camry Ms. Bookout was driving in Oklahoma suddenly accelerated through an intersection and hit an embankment. When the safety agency inquired about the cause of the accident in 2010, the Japanese automaker replied, “Toyota understands that this request is optional and respectfully declines to respond at this time.”

Three years later, Toyota paid $3 million in compensatory damages after having been found guilty in a lawsuit the two women’s families brought against the company. And in March, a federal judge approved a $1.2 billion settlement of criminal charges that Toyota concealed unintended acceleration problems in its vehicles for years.

By the time General Motors began recalling cars this year for ignition defects that could cause stalling, the agency had logged more than 2,000 complaints about the issue in the recalled models, some from consumers who had picked up on patterns in the agency’s database that its own investigators missed or did not look for.

After Chrysler balked last year at the regulator’s suggested 2.7 million vehicle recall for exploding fuel tanks in its Jeeps, the federal agency scaled back its request by 1.1 million cars. It also agreed to Chrysler’s demand that the automaker not be required to say the vehicles had a safety defect or that the automaker was at fault. The agency has linked 51 deaths and at least two serious injuries to the defect over 14 years.

And four years ago, the agency cut short an investigation into rupturing air bags in Honda vehicles, saying there was “insufficient information” to suggest that the companies had failed to take timely action. Since then, more than 13 million more cars have been recalled by Honda and 10 other automakers for the rupture risk, and Honda has linked two deaths to the defect.

The agency declined to make regulators available for interviews, agreeing only to reply to written questions. [A dead giveaway: They are not only failing to do their jobs, they know they are failing to do their jobs. - LG]

Continue reading.

Will Obama do anything about this?   (Just joking: of course not.)

Written by LeisureGuy

15 September 2014 at 11:08 am

“If you want to start a startup, go work for someone else”

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Extremely interesting post—with some very good points—for those with entrepreneurial aspirations: reality-based advice. He begins:

When you look online for advice about entrepreneurship, you will see a lot of “just do it”:

The best way to get experience… is to start a startup. So, paradoxically, if you’re too inexperienced to start a startup, what you should do is start one. That’s a way more efficient cure for inexperience than a normal job. – Paul Graham, Why to Not Not Start a Startup

There is very little you will learn in your current job as a {consultant, lawyer, business person, economist, programmer} that will make you better at starting your own startup. Even if you work at someone else’s startup right now, the rate at which you are learning useful things is way lower than if you were just starting your own. –  David Albert, When should you start a startup?

This advice almost never comes with citations to research or quantitative data, from which I have concluded:

The sort of person who jumps in and gives advice to the masses without doing a lot of research first generally believes that you should jump in and do things without doing a lot of research first.

As readers of this blog know, I don’t believe in doing anything without doing a ton of research first, and have therefore come to the surprising conclusion that the best way to start a startup is by doing a lot of background research first.

Specifically, I would make two claims: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 September 2014 at 9:17 am

Posted in Business

More on becoming fodder and compost for corporations…

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Written by LeisureGuy

10 September 2014 at 4:10 pm

Hah! The NFL did get a copy of the video—3 months ago

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I think they got caught—not only in lying, but in condoning domestic violence if they can possibly cover it up.

Written by LeisureGuy

10 September 2014 at 3:42 pm

Posted in Business, Daily life, Law


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