May 2, 2009

I Don’t Care Who You Are … That’s Funny

Filed under: General,Taxes & Government — Rose @ 6:04 pm

“Humor is just another defense against the universe.”  ~Mel Brooks

Obama Man” by Greg Morton:

AP via USAT: Shunning of the Bailed-Out Continued in April (Update: Is Ford #1 In Sales to Individual Consumers? More: Chrysler Number 8 in Cars)

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:35 am

From a story last updated at about 8 p.m. Friday night (bolds are mine):

Detroit’s Big Three is becoming Ford (F) and the other two.

While its rivals stay afloat with billions in government aid, Ford grabbed a bigger slice of the American car market in April with record sales of its fuel-efficient Fusion. Those results pushed it past Toyota to retake its post as the nation’s No. 2 car seller.

Even though Ford’s monthly sales tumbled 32% from a year earlier, it captured 16% of the total market. Most of those gains came at the expense of General Motors (GM) and Chrysler, which unlike Ford are dependent on federal help.

Somebody better tell the car czars before they dump more money into their pet industrial policy projects.

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UPDATE: Here’s more on how GM managed to stay number one in April.

First, consider this, from an LA Times report carried at the Houston Chronicle (bold is mine):

General Motors, which is trying to avoid bankruptcy as it faces a government-set restructuring deadline of June 1, said that its sales fell 34 percent to 173,007 in April compared with a year ago. However, fleet sales were running about 11 percent ahead of March.

Add this tidbit from Autoweek:

Sales to individual customers “continued at about the same selling rate as February and March,” said Mark LaNeve, GM’s North American sales chief, in a statement. GM’s better results were “largely driven by a return to more normal volumes of fleet sales,” the company said in a statement.

Now let’s mix in this tasty nugget from Bloomberg:

GM (down 34% per Bloomberg, 33.1% according to the Wall Street Journal’s detail [may require subscription] — Ed.) beat the average estimate for a 37 percent sales decline, based on a survey of 5 analysts. Purchases by fleet customers buoyed results, while sales to individual consumers fell 45 percent, Detroit-based GM said..

Well, isn’t that special?

The combination of those three factoids raises the legitimate possibility that Ford might have actually made more sales to individual customers in April than GM. Number-crunching and research is in progress to see if this is indeed the case, but there may not be enough facts on the table yet to reach a conclusion. Additional factoids that might help solve this riddle would be intensely appreciated. E-mail me whatever you’ve got. Fleet unit sales from April of either year or the mix of fleet vs. non-fleet sales from April of either year might be enough.

In the meantime, bask in the irony of this, from a spreadsheet downloaded from MotorIntelligence.com, which is the source for the WSJ’s detail (click on the “New Vehicle Sales” link):

Big6Sales0409

Which two companies are doing by far the worst at selling cars, and are the most dependent on those evil, gas-guzzling light trucks, including SUVs? Answer: The bailed-out companies in the red squares above.

Question: What if the only things keeping Chrysler and GM from disappearing into the ash heap of history are:

  • Fleet sales to Uncle Barack, who “just so happened” to rush an order of 17,000 plus vehicles in early April (orders for which might be expected to go to the bailed-out and not to Ford)?
  • Last-gasp buyers of light trucks who want to get their hands on their faves one last time before green weenie Obama and his car czars abandon them, or before the companies themselves go away?

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UPDATE 2: Just eyeballed the numbers, and realized that Chrysler’s pathetic figure of 15,558 car sales represents less than 5% of the total of the “Big Six.” — and it’s even worse when looking at the entire car market:

CarSalesDetail0409

Having sold fewer cars than Kia (16,588), and far fewer than Hyundai (27,406), Chrysler is — can you believe it? — Number 8 in cars. A year ago at this time, it was at number 6, with domestic sales very close to Nissan’s, and total sales far ahead of Hyundai’s and more than double Kia’s.

Cars is where Obama and his car czars want to focus their energies in reviving Chrysler.

Echoing Glenn Reynolds’s Obamantra, the bankrupt company is in the very best of hands. (/sarc)

UPDATE 3: Let’s be clear here. Given enough taxpayer handouts and a healthy dose of magic from Fiat, which itself has awakened from the dead over the past five years or so, Chrysler could conceivably recover. But it looks like a long shot; it’s not inconceivable that the factories shut down when the company filed for bankruptcy aren’t going to reopen.

Positivity: Oldest Person Ever to Donate Stem Cells Saves Brother’s Life

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:50 am

From North Devon, UK:

Saturday, May 02, 2009, 10:00

A GRANDMOTHER has made international medical history by becoming the oldest person ever to donate stem cells – to save her younger brother’s life.

Erica Henderson, 75, of Westward Ho! in North Devon, was allowed to transfer cells to Paul Hallowes despite being too old under medical guidelines.

Paul, 69, had been diagnosed with leukaemia and a high dose of chemotherapy had severely impaired his body’s ability to produce blood cells.

He would have died without the stem cell therapy, but despite him having three children and five grandchildren, a suitable donor could not be found.

Doctors searched the national database of 600,000 blood donors but it returned a blank for his Omega Negative blood group.

Paul was told he had just two years to live until doctors discovered his big sister Erica was a “perfect match” for the procedure.

Medical rules state the life-saving cells can only be donated by people up to the age of 70 – meaning Erica was too old.

But doctors at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London passed her as “100 per cent fit” and the operation went ahead.

Paul is now in remission and doctors say Erica has made medical history as the world’s oldest ever stem cell donator.

The grandmother-of-two said: “We tested the whole family and I was the only one who was an exact match. Paul had been given two years to live.

“Then they found I was a perfect match and it was just a question of whether I was well enough because of my age to donate the stem cells.

“The tests were very stringent, a bit like undergoing a full body MoT. When the doctors came back to us they said I was 100 per cent fit and gave us the go ahead.

“My brother had been extremely ill for a long time but we have just been told he is in remission which is amazing. I saved his life – it is wonderful, I’m just glad I was able to go through with it. If you love someone very much, you will do whatever you can.

“There was never any doubt in my mind. The doctors said we have made medical history because of my age.”

The transfer took place at the hospital in October and two weeks ago Paul was told he is now in remission. …..

Go here for the rest of the story.