Marketplace Scratch Pad

Morning Reading

Scott Jagow Jun 2, 2009

GM says it has a buyer for its tank division, Hummer. GM isn’t saying who, but it does say the buyer plans to “aggressively” sink money into future Hummer products. So, I’m guessing its either a foreign carmaker or the Marines. Elsewhere…

Lehrer News Hour has an interview with GM’s CFO Ray Young. I thought this was the best question:

GWEN IFILL: You and Fritz Henderson, the CEO, and your product development manager, you’ve both — you’ve all three been there almost, I guess, a combined 70, 60 years. He’s been there 30 years at G.M. You’ve been there 20 years. Fritz Henderson’s been there 20-plus years. How is that new? How is that innovative? How isn’t that just preservation?

RAY YOUNG: Well, it’s fair to say that people — you know, companies evolve. And I think the best way to explain the change is what has happened over the last 60 days within General Motors.

After President Obama announced the June 1 deadline, our team within General Motors has accomplished an amazing list of accomplishments over the past 60 days, a new UAW contract, new CAW contract, a new strategy in terms of rationalizing manufacturing capacity, the announcement of a small car plant.

We’ve been basically tackling issues every hour, every day, every week, and knocking them off. So there’s a new spirit within General Motors whereby we’re going to overcome obstacles, we’re going to break through walls, and we’re going to succeed…

This spirit that we saw in the last 60 days, it’s going to continue in the new General Motors.

Just words until GM proves otherwise.

Moving along, The Wall Street Journal says Citigroup has told five executives they won’t be getting tens of millions of dollars in promised severance payments. Check this out (emphasis mine):

Citigroup already has doled out more than half of the roughly $100 million it promised to the former executives. But company officials recently decided not to proceed with the remaining payments, concluding that they wanted to avoid even the possibility of a public backlash over the money, people familiar with the situation said.

Interesting…

The Journal also has a column from John Prestbo, editor and executive director of Dow Jones Indexes. He talks about why Cisco and Travelers were chosen to replace GM and Citigroup on the Dow. I think this is revealing/surprising:

Cisco has been on bloggers’ suggestion list for a long time. Do you pay any attention to these kibitzers?

Yes. They and many others take the Dow seriously enough to complain when they think we are doing something wrong and to offer their ideas. So, we take them seriously in return. However, most of these folks are looking at things from an investor’s point of view, as though the Dow was a portfolio they owned (and maybe some of them really do). But our goal is to maintain an index to accurately reflect the market as whole, and by extension the U.S. economy. That is a different purpose, which sometimes leads us in a different direction.

The Dow people are paying attention to financial bloggers…

Finally, NPR tells us why Americans are tired of watching every penny.

Amen.

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