Bailing the Big 3

The US Congress yesterday put off any bailout of the “Big 3” auto-makers and sent them back to their oak-paneled dens until they come up with better arguments. GM, Chrysler, and Ford had been looking for a $25 billion bailout of the industry, waving red flags warning that at least GM will have exhausted money by the end of December, and both it and Chrysler might be going into receivership by that time. Ford apparently has a bit more cash flow, but isn’t far behind.

Talk about shooting yourself in the foot. The executives that turned up in Washington to plead for money just don’t have a clue. The executive offices of corporate America (not to mention Canada) have become so used to big-bucks salaries, Brooks Brothers suits, and chauffeured lifestyles, that when they have to humble themselves and come with cap in hand to government, they just don’t know how to behave. They might have gotten a warmer reception had not someone noticed that they all arrived on luxury corporate jets for the Washington meeting. Beggars apparently still can be choosers, and in their case Marshall McLuhan was quite correct: the Medium is the Message.

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Cresting the Blip

In a column on May 5 of this year, I stated, “We will not see gas under $1.00 a liter again.”

It appears I was wrong. Error. In this strange crisis of the world economy we find ourselves this November, gas just fell below the one dollar mark for most stations in Nova Scotia a week ago.

Some “experts” (which maybe I thought I was until this point) are saying that when people get comfortable with the lower price, oil companies will be loath to anger us by raising it too quickly. They predict at least several more months at lowered prices. I make no prediction on that, having learned something at least.

The oil companies are capable of doing that, it seems. Despite pie charts being flashed around at gas stations showing us where the dollars go in the business, and how we apparently shouldn’t be blaming any of those people for high prices, I noticed that Exxon posted an almost record profit for the first quarter of this year, some 10.9 BILLION dollars. That’s not sales or anything like that, that’s profit. It was only outdone by the previous quarter, last of 2007, when their profit was $11.7 BILLION. The $10.9 is apparently $1,385 each second for the quarter, for those who are fascinated by such numbers, or $10,900,000,000, if you are impressed with that approach. Profit. And you thought the oil business was in trouble.

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