Jan 27, 2012, 11:22 am EDT
Clean energy appears to be a harder sell to Wall Street than Main Street. Ener1, the parent company of a electric car battery maker that received a $118 million grant from the Obama administration, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy yesterday.
Ener1 received the grant in 2009 from the Energy Department, and Vice President Joe Biden visited the company’s new battery plant in Indiana last year. It is the third company, after Solyndra Inc. and Beacon Power, to file for bankruptcy after a grant, a loan, or a loan guarantee from the government as part of the stimulus package.
While Solyndra’s collapse, and the revelation that the administration hurried approval of its $528 million loan, have been a black eye on Obama’s attempts to push clean energy, an Energy Department spokesperson indicated that the department still had confidence in the company in spite of the bankruptcy filing. They said that company restructuring would not affect work at the Indiana plant, that they did not anticipate jobs being lost as a result of the bankruptcy, and that additional private investment in the company “demonstrates that the technology has merit.” Read
Jan 27, 2012, 9:43 am EDT
With the state of Florida currently in the spotlight as the GOP presidential primaries continue, perhaps it’s no surprise that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has been on center stage as well. But the additional attention being paid to Rubio might not all be smoke and mirrors.
Serious consideration has been given to Rubio, a Cuban-American and rising star in the Republican Party, for a vice presidential nod. Although Rubio has denied interest in the position, that hasn’t stopped pundits from putting his name forward as a potential candidate.
While Rubio has yet to endorse a GOP presidential candidate, he has still been making his presence felt in the Sunshine State. When Newt Gingrich ran an ad in Spanish claiming that Mitt Romney was the most anti-immigration candidate in the election, Rubio said the ad was “inaccurate” and “inflammatory.” The ad was pulled soon after, although Gingrich’s campaign claims this was merely part of ad rotation for the campaign. Read
Jan 27, 2012, 8:53 am EDT
Although President Barack Obama is having a hard time getting even half of Americans to approve of the job he is doing as president, the global financial community is feeling better about his policies as they relate to the investment climate in the U.S. According to the most recent Bloomberg Global Poll (a quarterly poll of Bloomberg’s customers worldwide — traders, analysts and bankers), 40% of respondents said they were “optimistic” about Obama’s policies. This is a stark improvement from the September poll (just 3 months ago), when only 24% felt optimistic.
Even more encouraging news for the president is the dramatically improved view of the U.S. economy among financial professionals. In September, only 10% of Bloomberg’s customers said that the U.S. economy was improving. This week’s data shows that 50% of respondents now believe the economy is improving. Even more striking: in September, 60% of respondents believed that the U.S. economy was deteriorating, compared to only 16% in January.
Although almost half of these financial insiders are not giving credit to the Obama administration for America’s recovery (49% say he does not deserve credit), the vast majority– 72% — expect that Obama will be re-elected. Read
Jan 26, 2012, 12:49 pm EDT
New guidelines implemented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture will reduce sodium, increase the amount of whole grains, and provide a wider selection of fruits and vegetables for school lunches. The school lunch changes — seen as the biggest change in the standards in 15 years — were announced yesterday by First Lady Michelle Obama, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and celebrity chef Rachael Ray at an elementary school in Alexandria, Va.
The announcement comes as a compromise over plans from last year to go even further in changing school lunches. The draft of the previous plan wanted to cut the number of servings of potatoes to two times a week and not allow tomato paste on pizza to be classified as a vegetable, changes that were strenuously protested by potato growers and producers of frozen pizzas for schools.
Even without those changes, the new rules will radically change school lunches. For the first time, meals will have a calorie cap based on age. Most trans fats would be banned, sodium would be decreased in meals over a 10-year period, plain milk would be required to be low-fat and flavored milk would have to be fat-free. Read
Jan 26, 2012, 12:05 pm EDT
I want to take a moment to go over what our elected officials and central bankers have to say about the U.S. economy.
First, President Barack Obama delivered his annual State of the Union Address on Tuesday night (read a full transcript here), focusing primarily on how he wants to help the American middle class and bring outsourced jobs back to U.S. soil.
I don’t want to get too much into politics, but I will say I don’t see eye-to-eye with President Obama on very many things. Judging from how some key conservative players reacted to last night’s speech, it remains to be said how much of his regulatory vision will actually gain traction in Congress. Read
Jan 26, 2012, 11:08 am EDT
In an exclusive interview with Bloomberg Television, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said that even if President Barack Obama was elected to a second term, that it was unlikely he would be asked to return to his current position.
“He’s not going to ask me to stay on, I’m pretty confident. I’m confident he’ll be president. But I’m also confident he’s going to have the privilege of having another secretary of the Treasury… Something else for me.”
Geithner made the admission in a one-hour interview with Bloomberg Television that covered topics ranging from Dodd-Frank to the European debt crisis to manufacturing in the U.S. The entire interview can be seen in the embedded video below. Read