July 12, 2010

Elizabeth Warren: A Common Touch and Perfect Sense

Now that financial reform legislation is headed for the final stretch of congressional debate, ordinary Americans are wondering, "What does it mean for me?"

The best place to get an answer to that fundamental question is to ask Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard Law School professor who has been a powerful voice for consumers on the front lines of the financial reform effort, landing on the front page of Time Magazine, and numerous other publications, in the process. elizabeth-warren.jpgHer common sense defense of American families and the middle class, as well as her ability to explain what is happening, makes perfect sense.

On July 2, 2010, Warren issued a statement, explaining her view of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which she herself had a strong role in forming. "They created a strong, independent consumer agency that will have the tools to rein in industry tricks and traps and to cut out the fine print. For the first time, there will be a financial regulator in Washington watching out for families instead of banks."

Elizabeth Warren's name is on the short list of President Obama's nominees to lead that new agency. He could hardly find a more qualified candidate, with a common touch and perfect sense.

In an interview that appears in today's Huffington Post online, Professor Warren talks about the difficulty consumers have in making informed credit choices, "Today, the big banks churn out page after page of incomprehensible fine print to obscure the cost and risks of checking accounts, credit cards, mortgages and other financial products. The result is that consumers can't make direct product comparisons, markets aren't competitive, and costs are higher."

On the relationship between financial reform and our economic future, she adds, "If the playing field is leveled and the broken market fixed, a lot more money will stay in the pockets of millions of hard-working families. That's real stimulus -- money to families, without increasing our national debt." For the full text of the HuffPost interview, and to learn where financial reform stands today, click here.

July 10, 2010

Many Suitors for Tesla Motors Technology

Tesla Motors’ dance card is filling up fast. Tesla announced last May that it will make music with Toyota in producing all-electric vehicles at the dormant NUMMI plant in Freemont, California (see “Toyota Closes NUMMI Plant in California,“ posted on this blog April 1, 2010). The new high-tech facility at the site of the old NUMMI plant will be renamed The Tesla Factory. tesla-model-s-sedan_100227083_l.jpg It is there that the two companies intend to produce the Tesla Model S, its first sedan. The Tesla-Toyota union is moving ahead quickly, with the delivery of two prototype electric vehicles as early as this month. The Model S is expected to hit the market in 2012.

Tesla Motors stepped back into the spotlight with an IPO on June 29, 2010. The initial public offering of stock has been hailed as a success for the company, in spite of the market’s general rollercoaster performance last spring. After ending its first day with a sharp spike of $23.89, the stock (TSLA) has settled down and is now trading at $17.40, just above the initial public offering price of $17.00.

Meanwhile, lest we think that Tesla and Toyota are going steady, the media reports that Tesla is whispering with Daimler as well. “Tesla is also working with Germany's Daimler AG on electric vehicles and has supplied battery packs for use in Daimler's Smart minicars. Daimler has also invested at least $50 million in Tesla,” according to the trade publication Automotive News.

Coy, competitive and trendy, tiny Tesla is making some big moves with more than one dance partner. No one should be surprised at a company whose tag line is “Declare Independence.” But who ever thought batteries could be so sexy? For the company website click here.