Monthly Archives: April 2011

Exxon and the art of whining (or how to make $11B with taxpayer help)

Economy.jpgIt takes an incredibly warped sense of corporate entitlement for a company to believe it
 deserves taxpayer subsidies when it reports a quarterly profit of nearly $11 billion.

But that’s what we saw on Thursday when Exxon Mobil Corp. released its first quarter report. The giant oil company said it earned $10.7 billion, its largest quarterly profit since the 2008 third quarter when gasoline prices were even higher than they are now.

Along with the financial report, Ken Cohen, Exxon’s vice president for public affairs, published a lengthy statement on the company’s Perspectives blog defending Exxon’s soaring profits and blasting politicians for daring to protect taxpayers’ interests.

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An amazing storm

That’s the first time I’ve had to shovel mud to get the car out of the garage. Mud and rock
2011-04-28 07.12.41.jpgcoming off the hill piled against the garage door.

But at least the cars were inside when the hail came. The pounding on the tin roof of our little cabin in the woods sounded scary, and beautiful. Leaves and limbs were ripped from the giant oaks, but thankfully there was no damage.

My prayers are with those who suffered so much during last night’s storm.

Storm reports:

Widespread damage in East Tennessee after barrage of hail, winds, rain

Tornadoes devestate South, killing at least 250

Solving problems through spam

The freewheeling Internet delivers a lot of annoying — and occassionally interesting– spam every day. Rant$ and Rave$ got a fun one early this morning from “high Priest Dias.”

Dias claims “over 30 years experience in the Black Magic Spells, witchcraft and love spells” and promises to solve any problems.

I don’t need a love spell — Cheryl and I are blissfully married. But casting a darker spell or two would come in handy. I’m thinking a spell that would make politicians and basketball coaches tell the truth would be interesting.

Dias assures me he doesn’t make “false promises” and he guarantees “an honest, powerful and fast help!”

What do you think? Can he deliver?

UPS, Ford signal improving economy, or as Fox says, the sky is falling

Watching Fox news at the gym every morning is good motivation for burning calories, but I always need a reality check when I get to work.

Here’s a dose of reality that I didn’t see on Fox this morning:

Ford posts best 1Q profit in 13 years

UPS raises 2011 forecast as 1Q profit soars

Consumer Confidence Index rises in April

Together, these reports indicate that consumers are willing to spend, they’re feeling somewhat better about job creation and businesses are reaping the benefit.

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Reagan and Obama: Champions of necessary tax increases

Columnists often lift quotes from political speeches to illustrate the point they’re trying to make. I’ve done it myself many times — it’s an excellent way to add emphasis to what you’re writing.

RONALD+REAGAN.jpgHowever, keeping the quote in context isn’t always easy. A case in point, David Moon’s column in Sunday’s News Sentinel. In the April 24 column, Moon used a quote from President Barack Obama to draw a contrast between Ronald Reagan’s tax reform policies and the current president’s financial reform policies.Obama+Tax+Cuts.jpg

The Obama quote — from a speech just about a year ago — has been widely repeated by the president’s political opponents who want to paint him as a socialist. Unfortunately, the quote is often taken out of context.

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What Rep. Ryan doesn’t want you to know

Despite the constant drumbeat from  Republican budget committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan and others about how tax hikes will hurt the economy, America’s business leaders know better.

The Committee for Economic Development, a nonprofit, nonpartisan group of business executives and education leaders, today issued a statement urging Washington to consider both tax increases and spending cuts to get the federal deficit under control.

More than 100 top current and retired corporate execs signed the CED statement, including William Donaldson, Chairman, Donaldson Enterprises and former Chairman, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission; Peter Peterson, a co-founder of The Blackstone Group; Michael G. Morris, Chairman, President and CEO, American Electric Power Co.; Edward B. Rust, Jr., Chairman and CEO, State Farm Insurance Companies; and George Conrades, Executive Chairman of Akamai Technologies Inc.

CED statement: Business Statement on the Nation’s Fiscal Health

List of endorsers

Forbes: Execs say deficit fix should include tax hikes as well as spending cuts

Job market improving for college grads

 Job prospects for new college graduates are the best they’ve been in years, global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. says in a report released today.

Competition for entry-level positions will be tough, but companies are hiring again.

“Entry-level hiring has not returned to pre-recession levels, but this year’s graduates should find markedly improved job-search conditions. Colleges and universities around the country are reporting increased on-campus recruiting and surveys of employers indicate more graduate hiring, as companies rebuild their bench-strength after massive layoffs during the downturn,” Challenger, Gray CEO John A. Challenger said in a news release.

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Trump for president — That’s Entertainment!

Celebrity businessman Donald Trump has to run for president. He just has to. Without him, the Republican primary
GOP+Presidential+Field.jpgpromises to be so incredibly boring.

Trump stories are always a good read, even when he’s being weird. In the last few days, Trump has touted his ‘relationship with the blacks’, sued an Israeli vodka maker and snared the endorsement of actor Gary Busey. And Gawker reports that Trump wants to trade mark the phrase “Trump for Success” to market everything from cologne to shampoo and bubble bath.

Even his hair makes news. Time magazine recently published a diagram describing the Tump combing technique.

Recent Trump headlines:

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Does it matter what S&P says? Only if the pols are listening

Does it really matter that Standard & Poor’s Rating Service has lowered its outlook on U.S. government debt to “negative”?

Here are two interesting and very different answers to the question.

Wall Street Journal MarketWatch blogger Cody Willard doesn’t think too highly of S&P, while Republican economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin says it’s good that S&P cares.

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Educators in the Workplace returns

Knoxville area teachers who want to learn more about the business world can sign up for Educators in the Workplace, an Innovation Valley program that allows teachers to spend time with local businesses in the summer.

Companies particpating this year include Capstan, Roane County Medical Center, Oak Ridge National Lab, Toho Tenax, Molecular Pathology Laboratory Network, Inc., 21st Mortgage, Y-12, Standard Aero and Covenant Health.

For more info contact Ahanna Esters at the Knoxville Chamber at 865-246-2658 or aestes@knoxvillechamber.com.

Here’s a video on the program.