Friday, July 31, 2009
8:42 am edt
Second quarter GDP declines
, but not as much as expected. Could the recession be coming to an end?
The End of BigLaw?
7:23 am edt
Douglas McCollam, writing in the Wall Street Journal
, comments on how the downturn has ripped through the economic model that drove the biggest law firms to get bigger:
"At bottom, what’s in question is the whole economic edifice of the modern American law firm. Like the pharaohs
of old, big firms are enamored of constructing pyramids with an ever-widening base of associates and nonequity partners toiling
on behalf of a narrowing band of equity partners at the top. Increasing a firm’s “leverage”—as expressed
through the billable hour, one of the most pernicious creations in the annals of commerce—has been the key metric driving
profitability at big law firms over the last generation. "
"Numerous studies have documented the deleterious
impact this model has had upon the legal profession and clients. To date, nothing has been able to kill it. It would be ironic
indeed if the economic downturn that has cost lawyers so much ended up being the very thing that saved the legal profession
from its own excess. "
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Obama Hits New Low
12:50 pm edt
President Obama's approval index hit a new low
today of -12%. Also, for the first time, fewer than 50% of those polled say that they at least "somewhat approve"
of his performance. Instead, more than 50% at lease "somewhat disapprove."
Monday, July 27, 2009
Renewable Energy Around the Web: July 27
12:38 pm edt
Here's a summary
of renewable energy news from around the Web for the past week from RenewableEnergyMemo.com.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Has Global Warming Stopped?
3:43 pm edt
Jim Manzi asks this question in response to bloggers Ezra Klein, Kevin Drum and Ryan Avent calling George Will "idiotic" and "moronic" for his statement that "If you're 29, there has been no global warming for your entire adult life."
A few facts
are worth repeating.
Fact No. 1. The average global land-ocean temperature for the past decade was higher
than in any of the previous nine decades. Proponents of most global warming theories point to this as evidence that
man-made CO2 is responsible for rising global temperatures:
Fact No. 2 Average global land-ocean temperatures for the past 10 or 12 years have remained
relatively constant and, in fact, have cooled slightly:
Manzi correctly notes that ten years of temperature stability (or decline) do not necessarily
disprove the global warming hypothesis. If today is cooler than yesterday, it doesn't prove that every future day will
be cooler. As Manzi writes, "The question is at what point between 1 day and 1,000 years do I have enough evidence
that I can reasonably reject the theory? "
He also notes that what valid science would require is "the
escrowed set of AGW models with their predictions made over the past 20 years or so" allowing us to "enter in all
data for actual emissions, volcanic activity and other model inputs for teh time from the prediction was made until today,
and then run the models and compare their outputs to actual temperature change in order to build a distribution of model accuracy."
His point is so obvious, and so persuasive, that it's curious why no one has every done it.
with the data collection and communicatino efficiencies made possible by the Web, some one ought to collect climate change
models, show their predictions as of the date when made and then track their accuracy with actual data over time. It
wouldn't be very hard. (It would probably make for a nice high school science project). And the outcome would
be a compendium of climate models and the means by which to measure their accuracy over time.
If you know of a
web project like this (or if you resolve to create one yourself) please drop me a line.
Friday, July 24, 2009
4:22 pm edt
"I have been lied to
" said Congressman Charlie Melancon (D. La.) after storming out of a meeting with House Energy and Commerce Committee
Chairman Henry Waxman, according to The Hill.
Blue Dog Democrats on the Committee claimed that negotiations
had not been proceeding in good faith as they left the meeting, indicating that Democratic support for President Obama's health
care reform is falling apart.
Obama Approval Slipping
10:17 am edt
Following yesterday's loss of face
after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that the Senate would not have a vote on health care reform until
after the summer recess, President Obama's net approval index fell to -8, its lowest rating ever.
Fewer than 50%
of American now approve of the President's performance according to the Rasmussen polling firm.
Not Afraid of August
8:08 am edt
Now that the Senate leadership has announced
that there will not be a vote on health care reform before the August recess, it is not clear when, if every the administration
will be able to collect enough support to even call a vote.
More than fifty House Democrats have felt strongly
enough to sign on to one of several protest leaders to Speaker Pelosi. The Speaker, however, has quipped that she is
"not afraid of August."
The delay, however, is certainly a tough blow to President Obama's momentum
and represents a public loss of face after the President had openly and repeatedly called for a vote before the recess.
The administration had prioritized Waxman Markey and other efforts behind health care. If health care won't
come up for a vote until after the kids are off to school, the rest of the Obama legislative platform is very much at risk.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Rally: Dow Crosses 9,000
11:14 am edt
For the first time since early January the DJIA has crossed over 9,000
Clear Majority Oppose Obama
7:53 am edt
While President Obama continues to enjoy a personal approval rating of more than 50%, a majority of Americans oppose his key
policy initiatives according to a new Gallup poll.
According to the poll, 59% of Americans say that President Obama's proposals call for too much government
spending while 52% say those proposals call for too much of an expansion in government power.
those results between self-described Republicans and Democrats finds that Republicans oppose Obama's policies and think they
expand government power too much at rates of 90% and 83%. Democrats continue to support Obama's policies, but even within
this group 28% say his policies call for too much spending.
Americans are, however, still inclined to grant
the new president a fair amount of leeway. In response to the question of whether the problems facing Obama are more
serious than the problems facing past presidents, 66% says that our current problems are "more serious" than those
faced in the past.
Interestingly, though, is that this number has changed since the Fall of 2008.
Shortly before the Presidential election 84% of Americans said that the problems facing the next president would be more
serious than the problems faced by past presidents.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
The Right Stuff
12:46 pm edt
On this 40th anniversary of the Apollo mission to the moon, it is humbling (and perhaps unsettling) to ponder what made our astronauts great and when we'll see that character again:
"Codes of personal conduct were once what Americans—great
ones, at least—were all about. In his superb book “American Heroes,” Yale historian Edmund S. Morgan writes
about Benjamin Franklin and George Washington that “both men cared enormously about their reputations, about their honor.
Their deliberate refusals to do things, employed to great advantage in serving their country, originated in a personal ambition
to gain honor and reputation of a higher order than most people aspired to.”
This is not the way we live now.
Modern culture has severed many of the remaining links between merit and celebrity. We make a fetish of uninteresting, detestable,
loud or unaccomplished people: Paris Hilton, Princess Di, Keith Olbermann, Michael Jackson. Disgrace can be a ticket for even
greater celebrity, particularly when mixed with confession. Stoicism, on the other hand, is regarded as a form of denial,
meaning borderline lunacy.
I detest anti-Americanism, but I’ll concede this: It’s hard to watch American
celebrity culture at work and not feel revolted."
Taxation Without Representation: The New York Model
12:36 pm edt
Myron Magnet lets 'em have it in this piece
in the City Journal:
It's worth recalling that when the Founding Fathers led the American colonists in revolt
against British oppression, they weren’t rebelling against torture on the rack or being chained in galleys or having
to let aristocrats deflower their daughters. They were rebelling against taxes. To them, having to pay duties they hadn’t
voted for themselves was a tyrannical taking of property—theft—and, in true Lockean fashion, they concluded that
since government exists to protect life, liberty, and property, a regime that does the opposite renders itself illegitimate.
What would they make, then, of today’s New York City, where 1.2 percent of the taxpayers—40,000 households—pay
50 percent of the income taxes, and half the households pay no income tax at all? If the tax code ensures that those who pay
the bulk of the taxes are always a minority of those who vote for the legislature that imposes the taxes, isn’t that
taxation without representation? Isn’t it also the tyranny of the majority that the Founders tried to prevent?
Monday, July 20, 2009
Renewable Energy Around the Web
7:35 am edt
A weekly update
on news articles and blog posts on the renewable energy industry.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
In Memoriam: Walter Cronkite
7:44 am edt
Friday, July 17, 2009
Judi Gerhardt's Career Fashion Consignment Opens
7:29 am edt
I like to brag on my clients, so forgive me. Judi Gerhardt's Career Fashion Consignment is now open for accepting consignments and received some coverage in the local paper.
As the article explains, Judi has a great story for her new effort:
Fashion Consignment is not Ms. Gerhardt’s first business endeavor. She founded and operated an equestrian center in
New Orleans for 15 years. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina destroyed most of the property and the center was dismantled.
from that devastation, she has risen to the challenge and presses forward with her store opening on the fourth anniversary
of the hurricane.
“Katrina took away certain opportunities but offered new ones,” she said."
Judi's store is also an expression of her concern for the environment and sustainable living.
store’s target audience includes “new college graduates in their early 20s who are just entering the workforce
to people in their late 40s and 50s getting back into the workforce and everybody in between,” she said.
In the spirit of the green movement, her store focuses on what she calls the “re’s”— recycling,
reusing and returns.
“Sustainability is the business model of what we do in this new economy and new consumerism,”
she said. "
Judi is planning a grand opening party in late August.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Exxon to Invest $600 Million in Algal Fuels
10:16 am edt
Is Finale the Best Harry Potter Yet?
6:42 am edt
Early critical reviews
of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince are calling it the "best Harry Potter yet".
Monday, July 13, 2009
John C. Beale Tribute
12:23 pm edt
Killed in action June
4, 2009, the body of Staff Sergeant First Class John C. Beale was returned to Falcon Field in Peachtree City, Georgia, just south
of Atlanta, on June 11, 2009. The Henry County Police Department escorted the procession to the funeral home in McDonough,
Georgia. A simple notice in local papers indicated the road route
to be taken and the approximate time.
This video was filmed during the procession by a State Trooper.
The video has already been widely circulated but because
it's so moving and concerns some fellow Georgians, I wanted to share it with you.
UK Clean Energy Effort
7:23 am edt
Expected to cost £100 billion, the effort intends
to increase the UK's use of renewable energy to 15% by 2020 while also reducing carbon emissions to 80% below 1990 levels
by the year 2050. (Independent).
The UK government's effort is also said to include a "social tariff
" that will charge lower prices to residential customers with lower incomes and higher prices to higher-income customers.
Energy and Climate Change Ed Miliband is also expected to announce
increased support for feed-in tariffs, in which individuals with energy producing facilities (like residential solar cells)
will receive above-market rates from electric utilities for electricity they supply to the grid. (Reuters).
Several white papers and announcements are expected from the government on Wednesday.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Vermont Clean Energy Act Attracts Interest
8:40 am edt
Vermont's recent clean energy law (the Vermont Energy Act of 2009
) clears a number of hurdles for the acceleration of renewable energy in that state.
Dozens of entrepreneurs
and renewable energy contracts appeared at a meeting
of the Vermont Public Service Board this week to express their appreciation and their optimism over the business that it
Environmentalists: Waxman Markey Not Good Enough
8:31 am edt
The NY Times carries a piece
today illustrating the frustration felt by envionmentalists over Waxman Markey. Many blame President Obama, saying
he did not do enough to push through the legislation in its original form.
The article notes:
some environmental groups and individuals, the bill’s perceived shortcomings — like generous pollution allowances
to coal utilities and the usurping of the federal Environmental Protection Agency's regulatory authority over carbon emissions
— were more than mere setbacks.
“This bill was worse than what we were expecting, even knowing we wouldn’t
get the best bill,” said Nick Berning, a spokesman for the group Friends of the Earth."
Zelaya's Ouster was Legal
8:24 am edt
Miguel Estrada makes a persuasive case
that the remove of Zelaya from the presidency of Honduras was legal.
Why is the Obama administration so
hell-bent on putting him back in power?
Friday, July 10, 2009
Treasury Issues Guidance on Renewable Energy Investment Tax Credits
7:37 am edt
The Treasury Department yesterday released guidance on applying for the renewable energy investment tax credit available under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The guidance focuses on the $3 billion in Treasury Department grants that are available under Section 1603 of
the ARRA for parties who wish to receive cash instead of the investment tax credit under Section 48.
Some of the
key points include:
* Application Deadline - For property placed in service in 2009 or 2010, applications must
be submitted after the property has been placed in service and before October 1, 2011;
* Eligibility - In general,
only private, tax-paying entities are eligible to apply. Ineligible entities include state and local governments, tax-exempt
Section 501(c) entities and pass-through entities any one of the beneficial owners of which is an ineligible entity;
* Placed in service - Applicants will need a completed commissioning report to document their placed in service date, among
other requirements; and
* Recapture - If an applicant disposes of the property to a person who is disqualified
from receiving the grant, anywhere from 20% to 100% of the Section 1603 payment must be repaid to the Treasury depending
upon the date of disposition and other factors.
7:19 am edt
Thursday, July 9, 2009
FDIC Guidelines on Failed Bank Acquisition
5:37 am edt
The FDIC's recent proposed guidlines on the acquisition of failed banks have been roundly criticized by many of the private equity firms who would be the mostly likely candidates to acquire failed banks.
is now reporting, however, that the FDIC may loosen its proposed restrictions after listening to private equity concerns.
Among the key areas where private equity is seeking more flexibility:
* Loosening Tier 1 capital requirements,
down from the 15% stipulated in the FDIC's initial guidelines;
* Loosening the requirement of cross-guarantees
among multiple banks acquired by private investors; and
* Relaxing the requirement that investors be prohibited
from selling their stakes in acquired banks within three years of acquisition.
Eighty Percent by 2050
5:06 am edt
At the G8 Summit yesterday President Obama joined seven other countries in agreeing to try to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions
by eighty percent by the year 2050
That public statement is aimed to direct attention to the administration's efforts to push H.R. 2454 through
the Senate where it was yesterday being debated
before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Energy Secretary Steven Chu testified there yesterday, claiming
that the Waxman Markey bill, which narrowly passed the House by a vote of 219-212, would reduce emissions to 17% below 2005
levels by 2020 and eventually to 80% below current levels by 2050.
The bill would also require electric
utilities to generate 20% of their electricity by renewable methods by the year 2020.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
A Short History of the Collapse
7:03 am edt
John Makin's piece
in the Wall Street Journal does an excellent job summarizing the history of the government incentives that created the housing
bubble and the current collapse in housing values and the credit market. Among other factors, he blames the Clinton's
administration's policies that encouraged Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to permit home loans with insufficient equity, thereby
drawing individuals into the home buying market who were not prepared to pay their debts.
His conclusion is that,
to avoid another bubble and its subsequent collapse, the government should "stop playing favorites" with the market
and abandon policies that subsidize investments by a particular group of people.
Unfortunately, the current administration's
penchant for regulation makes it more likely that government will once again intervene, whether that intervention is called
"stimulus" or something else, in a way that creates an incentive that distorts the market, thereby guaranteeing,
in the long run, another bubble and another collapse.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
Washington Post Opposes Maxman Markey
8:25 am edt
In an editorial this morning the venerable Washington Post came out against the Waxman Markey bill which recently passed in the House and
is now circling in the Senate.
Key to the Post's objections is a provision in the bill that would require
the President to impose tariffs on goods produced in countries that do not have sufficient CO2 emission requirements.
The editorial concludes:
"Are the tariffs' extra layer of protection worth the risk? It is if you're an American
union boss. The rebate-tariff regime looks like yet another Waxman-Markey sop that the bill's backers added to ensure its
passage. We hope that the Senate, where the action is now, has the sense to remove the tariff provision, fix its trade compensation
scheme and scale back the bill's other excesses. "
While the Post has never been known for its solicitation
of the trial bar, consider the litigation potential of the rebate/tariff mechanism currently in the bill. If an industry
found it were competitively threatened by competing goods from a non-emission-controlled jurisdiction, that industry would
first seek to obtain rebates from the EPA. If the industry also were protected by tariffs, it could have a double-dip
on the CO2 rebate. Competitors in other jurisdictions might commence a trade dispute under GATT and both industries
might end up spending more time in legal proceedings than in selling their wares.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Happy Fourth of July
11:18 am edt
More on Sarah Palin Resignation
11:16 am edt
Politic has the best analysis so far, speculating that the move is intended to free her from the political restraints that come from holding an office
so that she can maneuver towards the 2012 GOP nomination.
Palins political enemies in Alaska were beginning
to pile on with additional frivolouos ethics inquiries, design to create a paper trail that would be fodder for opponents
in a presidential contest. By stepping down she eliminates their ability to keep up those attacks.
Palin is serious you would expect her to begin working the lecture circuit, collecting speaker fees and soliciting contributions
from big money donors towards an exploratory committee.
Friday, July 3, 2009
Sarah Palin to Resign as Governor
3:52 pm edt
The AP is reporting that Sarah Palin will resign as governor of Alaska effective July 26.
Update: More from Reuters, suggesting that she is resigning to pursue the GOP nomination in 2012.
Venture Capital Investment in Cleantech up almost 50% in 2Q09
3:30 pm edt
According to a recent report
, venture investment in cleantech amounted to $1.2 billion in the second quarter of 2009, up from roughly $800 million in
the first quarter.