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The Future is Electric

Posted on 29. Oct, 2011 by in TECHNOLOGY

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Ladies and gentleman, I am here to talk to you about the future. No crystal balls, just cold hard facts and obvious truths. Can you handle the truth? I most certainly hope so, because in the not-so-distant future, this truth will become more and more evident until one day, no one will be able to deny it. We are, unfortunately, running out of oil, and our principle mode of transportation, the fossil fuel burning combustion engine is sadly, taking its first steps into oblivion.


I’m not going to waste your time or depress you with the obvious geopolitical and environmental factors that have, albeit slowly, forced some of us to consider trading in our gas guzzling SUVs for non-fossil-fuel options. Petrol may be king today, but by its very finite nature, is in a steady decline. Nightmare scenarios of fuel shortages; a torn and irreparable ozone layer; Al Gore’s monotone voice perpetually declaring ‘I told you so’ in a never ending Current TV loop, all abound online and in our over-active imaginations. But alas, hope is on the horizon.

The concept of the hybrid and the fully electric car has been with us for the better part of a decade. It is only now however that people are beginning to take it seriously. This shift in sentiment may have something to do with our decade-long miscalculations in the Middle East or the proposed ease it brings by opening up the country’s HOV lanes to the solitary driver—or more likely, the deathly fear of the aforementioned Al Gore loop from hell. In any case, we have finally begun to see the alternative automobile as a viable option. Going Green is not just for new-age prophets, but is a full-blown cultural and business phenomenon. Everyone, er, except perhaps Republican presidential candidates, has accepted that we are indeed facing measurable climate deterioration and that we have currently peeked our supply of fossil fuels (see Hubert Peek Theory) and are running towards a brick wall faster than Charlie Sheen after happy hour. So what do we, as conscientious citizens of the world, do?

Two readily available options are at your beck and call. The first is the hybrid, which we all know by now, makes use of a fossil fuel combustion engine, and one or more electrical motors, greatly extending the miles a car can travel without needing a refill. The second is the fully electric plug-in-and-go vehicle. We’ll take a look at high end market for both.

Tesla Roadster

TESLA
Tesla Automotive was founded by a group of restless and innovative Silicon Valley engineers and is currently led by its founder, tech guru, Elon Musk, of PayPal fame. At this moment, the company offers three gorgeous models: the high performance Roadster; its muscular big brother the Roadster Sport; and the newly announced Model S, a luxury four door family sedan. All are works of automotive art, and perfectly combine high performance with cutting edge green engineering, putting the driver in a unique position of having their cake and eating it too. Don’t you just love environmentally conscientious indulgence?

The Roaster and the Roaster Sport are testaments to Tesla’s on going pursuit of highend luxury with zero emissions. Not only will you hear the clang of jaws dropping as you zip by on the freeway, but you’ll also have every self righteous environmental activist in the continental U.S. give you the proverbial “thumbs up” as you splash them with gutter water on your way to the steakhouse. Win win.

Fisker Karma


FISKER AUTOMOTIVE
Fisker Started out in 2007 when designer Henrik Fisker and Bernhard Koehler teamed up to create a high performance car that was both innovative as well as easy on the environment. The outcome of their work is the Karma. This car is a gorgeous hybrid that pushes the very definition of sustainability to a whole different direction. The Karma sports a turbo charged and inter-cooled DOHC 16 valve 2.0 liter inline-4 generator engine up front that has 260 hp and 260 lb-ft, and two AC permanent-magnet synchronous drive motors in the back that have 402 hp, with 959 lb-ft. In laymen’s terms, this car flies.

Performance meets elegance meets sustainability. It’s almost too good to be true. The price points for either car is on the high side, but well worth it when one considers the amazing technology that these cars are built on.

The Carlyle Group IPO

Posted on 06. Sep, 2011 by in Blogs

Stocks & Bonds

Washington D.C.

The Carlyle Group today announced that it has filed a registration statement with the SEC for an initial public offering. The price-range of the offering has yet to be determined. The stated purpose of the offering is to raise $100 million (expect that figure to rise) to repay some of its debts and to cover some other general corporate needs including growth initiatives and acquisitions, among others. With the downturn in the global markets, many private equity firms have either delayed their offerings, or have been hurt by a less than receptive public, too irked by the stagnant economy to be bold with their investments. This does open the door to some speculation as to why the Carlyle Group has chosen this moment for the IPO, being that the current market situation is far from stellar. Could it be that the founders of Carlyle, who are all now well into their 60’s, may be looking for a large last payout? Or is that too cynical? We can’t know for sure until more information is released, but as it stands, we are left with more questions than answers.

In other IPO news, Groupon is freezing its IPO after a scathing internal memo from CEO Andrew Mason was accidentally leaked garnering the attention of the SEC.

Buffett to Invest $5 billion in BofA

Posted on 26. Aug, 2011 by in Blogs

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Just when you thought that Bank of America was headed for the dustbin of financial history, along comes a gray haired angel with a $5 billion purse in his gleaming hands. That may have been over dramatizing it a bit, but Bank of America was looking rather tattered until the news of Buffett and his investment hit. The question remains, why now?

Bank of America’s stocks have fallen 30% since the beginning of August. The bank’s mortgage division is in the process of paying out billions in settlement and legal fees and it is currently under investigation for a host of foreclosure violations across the nation. Investors have been jumping ship fearing that the bank and the industry as a whole are too risky. In the case of Bank of America, a lack of capital only added to the considerable trepidation that investors have been feeling about the industry as a whole. Last quarter, the bank lost $8.8 billion due to its settlements with mortgage investors, and just last week the bank announced that it would be laying off 3500 workers to stay competitive.

Whether Buffett’s vote of confidence will have any bearing on the industry remains to be seen, but this isn’t the first time that Buffett has come to the rescue of troubled companies – think Goldman Sachs and General Electric. Practicing what he preaches, namely that you buy low and sell high, Buffett has made a career out of coming in at the last minute and turning a massive profit. Only time will tell whether or not Buffett’s latest investment will garner yet another success story, but give his track record, the odds are on his side.

A Star Rises in the East

Posted on 02. Jul, 2011 by in Blogs

A Star Rises in the East


The Turkish economy has grown 11% in first quarter of the year, exceeding China and Argentina as the fastest growing economy in the world. Impressive considering where Turkey was a decade ago: embroiled in an economic crisis of apocalyptic proportions and notoriously unstable politically. Today Turkey is being hailed as the model nation for the region. With these latest figures, Turkey has shown its dynamism and determination to out-perform even the biggest economies in the world.

The economy played a central role in Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s searing victory in the national elections this past month. Many of the elite in Istanbul stood staggered and completely out-maneuvered as the prime minister strolled to yet another wide margin victory. Bread and butter issues is where the AKP is at its strongest and with many Anatolian families joining the growing middle class in Turkey, it seems that the AKP will enjoy even more success in the future.

Despite the optimistic figures, foreign investors aren’t clamoring for stakes in Turkish industries. Many foresee serious pitfalls on the horizon. Turkey will need to resolve its ballooning account deficit, currently at 8% of the nation’s gross domestic product, which is a sign of impending overheating. The less than flattering trade deficit, which has doubled since this time last year is another hurdle that must be overcome before a final judgment can be made about the Turkish economy’s future. These factors must be addressed and resolved before confidence in the ability of the Turks to sustain this growth can translate into the much needed and highly sought foreign investment can freely flow into the burgeoning Turkish economy.

Verizon 4G, fastest in D.C.

Posted on 28. Jun, 2011 by in Blogs, TECHNOLOGY

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Smart Phone

Washington, for reasons we’ll never truly understand, has traditionally had some of the slowest networks in the country. According to PC Mag’s second annual Fastest Mobile Networks Survey, we find that this sad detail of D.C. living hasn’t changed much in the past year. We still are near the bottom of the pile, but alas, there is a silver lining, of sorts. Verizon 4G LTE ranked #1 in speed, and T Mobile, #1 in consistency in the area. So, it’s not all bad.

Click here for more information.

IMF

Posted on 19. May, 2011 by in Blogs, FINANCE

IMF

With the resignation of the IMF managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn now confirmed, a fight is brewing between the East and West, developed and developing worlds for control of the Fund. The Euro dominated IMF is now being challenged, for the first time in earnest, by those who would like to see the Fund led by representatives of countries that are on the rise: Brazil, China, India being the most vocal opponents of European dominance.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has explained that though those in the developing world had “legitimate claims”, the current fiscal crises in the Euro makes having someone with solid European credentials and connections that much more important.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn resigned yesterday, after being arrested for sexual assault. The agency’s second in command, John Lipsky, is currently acting as the managing director until a permanent director is found.

CoStar buys LoopNet for $860 Million

Posted on 02. May, 2011 by in Blogs, TECHNOLOGY

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Stocks for LoopNet and CoStar have surged since Thursday’s announcement that CoStar would be purchasing LoopNet, for $860 Million.

CoStar is a DC based business that is an industry leader in commercial real estate analytics and market services. The deal will see CoStar’s subscriber base increase to over 160,000 members, and will augment CoStar’s database of property listings to over 2 million properties.

After reeling from the economic fall out of the last few years, could this sizable sale signify the first harbinger of a positive change in the market? It’s probably too soon to tell, as most national real state forecasts have been less than stellar. But what is certain is that CoStar will now see a sizable increase in its paying membership roster, and that will have an immediate and positive impact on CoStar’s bottom line.

Delays for D.C. Business Travelers due to bin Laden’s Death

Posted on 02. May, 2011 by in Blogs

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Portfolio.com is reporting that the death of Osama bin Laden may affect global travel. Expect the TSA to vamp up security measures at airports as possible retaliatory attacks for bin Laden’s death may be carried out in the coming days and weeks ahead.

The State Department has issued an alert for U.S. citizens traveling and residing abroad to be cautious and steer clear of mass gatherings as an increase in anti-American violence could be expected:

The U.S. Department of State alerts U.S. citizens traveling and residing abroad to the enhanced potential for anti-American violence given recent counter-terrorism activity in Pakistan.  Given the uncertainty and volatility of the current situation, U.S. citizens in areas where recent events could cause anti-American violence are strongly urged to limit their travel outside of their homes and hotels and avoid mass gatherings and demonstrations.  U.S. citizens should stay current with media coverage of local events and be aware of their surroundings at all times.  This Travel Alert expires August 1″.

Image Courtesy of Dulles Airport.

Washington D.C. business travelers, this may mean longer gate times, and more security checks, be prepared for extended delays.