All posts by Zhloeco

Treasury Chief ‘Confident’ Congress Will Raise US Debt Limit

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Thursday he was confident that Congress would raise the federal debt limit  “before there’s an issue” with U.S. creditworthiness, and he pledged that the Trump administration’s tax reform plans would be paid for.

“We’re going to get it increased,” Mnuchin told Fox Business Network about the debt limit. “The credit of the United States is the utmost. I’ve said to Congress they should do it as quickly as they can. But we are very focused on working with them and I’m confident we’ll get there before there’s an issue.”

Mnuchin said last week that he wanted a “clean” debt ceiling increase before the start of Congress’ summer recess in early August.

Mnuchin said that it “makes no sense” to view the Trump administration’s tax reform plans through a “static” budget analysis that does not account for economic growth effects. He has previously pledged that increased economic growth would generate more revenue to offset lower tax rates.

“We’re about creating economic growth, we’re about broadening the base and we’re going to make sure that this is tax reform, not just tax cuts, and that they’re paid for,” Mnuchin said.

Build a better website in less than an hour. Start for free at us.

US Withdrawal From Paris Climate Deal Disappoints Many Businesses

President Donald Trump is moving the United States out of the Paris climate agreement, signed by nearly 200 other nations.

Trump said Thursday that the Paris agreement hurts U.S. economic growth, costs millions of American jobs and puts U.S. firms at a disadvantage. However, his decision contrasted with the views of hundreds of American business leaders who urged him to continue participating in the climate agreement.

While the president said Washington would stop implementing the Paris accord immediately, he added that he would begin negotiations aimed at rejoining the Paris accord or a similar agreement on terms more advantageous to the United States.  

“We will see if we can make a deal that’s fair,” Trump said. An audience at the White House Rose Garden warmly applauded his announcement.

Among the many corporations that opposed the move to bow out of the Paris Agreement were Mars, Nike, Levi Strauss and Starbucks. Their top corporate officers signed a letter to Trump several months ago, arguing that failing to build a low-carbon economy would put U.S. “prosperity at risk.”

WATCH: Trump: US ‘Will Cease All Implementation’ of Paris Climate Accord

Trump: ‘Fortune’ at stake

Trump said the climate agreement, as presently written, would cost U.S. businesses “a vast fortune” and lead to the loss of 7 million jobs by 2025.

Tesla founder Elon Musk tried to persuade the president to stay in the accord and said Wednesday that he would quit the White House business advisory council if Washington left the Paris Agreement.

GE chief Jeff Immelt has written that customers, partners and countries are demanding technology that generates electric power while improving energy efficiency and cutting costs.

Oil companies like Chevron and ExxonMobil recently argued that the Paris Agreement gives their firms a more predictable future, and therefore more manageable one. The oil companies and some coal firms also say remaining part of the accord helps maintain U.S. influence over future talks.  

Earlier this week, more than 60 percent of Exxon shareholders voted to require that the firm do more analysis and disclosure of the likely impact of tougher climate policies on company revenue. Previous efforts to force such disclosures failed to get a majority of votes from shareholders.  

Some other business, Republican and conservative groups agreed with Trump’s action. The Heritage Foundation, for example, said the accord produces “devastating” economic costs and “zero” environmental benefits.

Build a better website in less than an hour. Start for free at us.

Investors Pick Tesla’s Promise Over GM’s Steady Profits

When General Motors CEO Mary Barra introduced the Chevrolet Bolt at the CES gadget show last year, she took a shot at Tesla.

Buyers can be confident because Chevy has 3,000 U.S. dealers to service the new electric vehicle, she said. The implication was that Tesla, with just 69 service centers nationwide, can make no such promise.

 

The uncharacteristic insult from Barra was designed to highlight the difference between 108-year-old GM and Tesla, a disruptive teenager. It also acknowledged a budding rivalry that could help determine whether Detroit or Silicon Valley sets the course for the future of the auto industry.

The tale of the tape favors GM. It has made billions in profits since returning to the public markets in 2010. GM got the Bolt, a $36,000 car that goes 238 miles per charge, to market before Tesla’s Model 3. Tesla, the 14-year-old company led by flamboyant CEO Elon Musk, has never posted an annual profit.

 

Yet, as both CEOs face shareholders for annual meetings Tuesday, it is Barra who must explain to skeptical investors why GM’s future is as bright as Tesla’s.

 

GM’s stock is trading around the $33 price of its initial public offering seven years ago. During that time, Tesla shares have soared more than tenfold to $335. Wall Street now values Tesla at about $55 billion, compared to around $50 billion for GM.

 

Despite efforts to paint themselves as technology companies, automakers can’t shake their giant, capital-intensive global manufacturing operations. The huge investment needed to build vehicles yields low profit margins compared with tech companies that make software or cell phones, says Michael Ramsey, an analyst with Gartner. GM’s net profit margin in 2016 was 5.7 percent. By comparison, Alphabet Inc., parent of Google, had a 22 percent margin.

 

Although it’s an automaker, Tesla started in the tech bucket and remains there in the eyes of investors and buyers, Ramsey says.

 

Tesla’s electric cars are the envy of the industry, and its semi-autonomous technology is among the most advanced on the road. Musk says Tesla’s California assembly plant – which used to be GM’s – will soon be among the most efficient in the world. And it’s branching into areas with potential for bigger returns, including solar panels, energy storage and trucking.

Tesla is absurdly overvalued if based on the past, but that’s irrelevant. A stock price represents risk-adjusted future cash flows,” Musk tweeted in April.

 

Still, Musk can’t risk any missteps as Tesla pivots from a niche manufacturer of 84,000 high-priced cars per year. The Model 3 sedan, Tesla’s first mainstream car, is due out later this year, but previous launches have been plagued with delays. Tesla has yet to prove it can build high-volume vehicles with quality and reliability, as GM does. Musk aims to make 500,000 vehicles per year in 2018; GM made more than 10 million cars and trucks last year.

GM, too, is stretching into new areas. Its Maven car-sharing service has 35,000 members in 17 North American cities, and it’s providing cars for ride-hailing services. GM is developing autonomous cars with Cruise Automation, a software company purchased last year. Its SuperCruise semi-autonomous driving system, due out this year, is designed to be safer than Tesla’s.

 

And GM isn’t the only automaker with a stagnant stock price. Of the seven best-selling carmakers in the U.S., only Toyota and Fiat Chrysler have seen significant growth in seven years. Ford, Honda and Hyundai all have lost value.

 

“Investors and the financial markets are much more interested in investing in the potential of what might be huge than in the reality of what’s already profitable and likely to remain so for years to come,” says Sam Abuelsamid, a senior analyst with Navigant Research.

 

Abuelsamid says GM could better trumpet its technology achievements. For instance, it scarcely markets the Bolt. By contrast, Musk builds hype with nightclub-like events for Tesla owners and Twitter banter with 8.8 million followers.

 

“The only way you can get people to perceive you in the same light as a company like Tesla is to demonstrate it,” Abuelsamid says.

 

Musk is crucial to Tesla’s success. The risk-taking billionaire founded PayPal and rocket company SpaceX before taking over Tesla. He espouses big ideas like Hyperloop high-speed transportation and colonizing Mars.

 

Barra, on the other hand, is a methodical engineer who rarely strays from script. She has only 29,500 Twitter followers. She’s a GM lifer who earned a company-paid MBA from Stanford; Musk left a Stanford graduate physics program after just two days to form a publishing startup.

 

“Mary is like a normal high-level performing executive,” Ramsey says. “Elon Musk is like an almost unrivaled superstar, even in comparison to Silicon Valley executives.”

 

Still, the big changes in the auto industry are in the early stages. Electric vehicles make up less than 1 percent of global auto sales and fully self-driving cars are years away. The economy can falter and company fortunes can shift. Already this year, sales in the U.S. and China are slowing, and GM pulled out of the European and Indian markets because they weren’t profitable.

 

GM knows the ups and downs of auto sales, but Tesla will have to learn to manage them. If the Model 3 is late and Tesla sales fall, its stock price could drop and reduce Tesla’s access to cheap capital, Ramsey says.

 

“I don’t think they’re completely immune to economic cycles,” he says. “That will be when we really know if Tesla can maintain this out-of-whack share value with their fundamentals.”

Build a better website in less than an hour. Start for free at us.

Hundreds of Businesses Urge Trump to Stay in Paris Climate Deal

Hundreds of businesses have urged President Donald Trump to keep the United States in the Paris climate deal, and there is evidence that business support for the agreement is growing.

As a presidential candidate, Trump called climate science a “fraud” and pledged to get out of the Paris climate accord if he won the election.

But many business leaders disagree with that goal. Major American firms, including Mars, Nike, Levi Strauss, and Starbucks signed a letter to Trump several months ago, arguing that failing to build a low-carbon economy puts U.S. “prosperity at risk.”

On Wednesday Tesla founder Elon Musk said he tried to persuade the president to stay in the accord, and said he would quit the White House business advisory council if Washington pulls out of the Paris agreement.

GE chief Jeff Immelt has written that customers, partners, and countries are demanding technology that generates electric power while improving energy efficiency and cutting costs.

Oil companies, like Chevron and rival ExxonMobil, recently argued that the Paris Agreement gives their firms a more predictable future, and therefore more manageable one. It also helps maintain U.S. influence over future talks.

Earlier this week, more than 60 percent of Exxon shareholders voted to require that the firm do more analysis and disclosure of the likely impact of tougher climate policies on company revenue. Previous efforts to force such disclosures failed to get a majority of votes from shareholders.

Some other business and conservative groups say Washington should leave the climate agreement. The Heritage Foundation, for example, says the accord has “devastating” economic costs” and “zero” environmental benefits. The report’s authors argue that the Paris deal will hurt economic growth and cut jobs.

 

Build a better website in less than an hour. Start for free at us.

Cuban Entrepreneurs Start First Private Business Group

A handful of entrepreneurs have quietly formed communist Cuba’s first private small business association, testing the government’s willingness to allow Cubans to organize outside the strict bounds of state control.

 

More than a half million Cubans officially work in the private sector, with tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands more working off the books. Cuba’s legal system and centrally planned state economy have changed little since the Cold War, however, and private business people are officially recognized only as “self-employed,” a status with few legal protections and no access to wholesale goods or the ability to import and export.

 

The government is expected to take an incremental step toward changing that Thursday when Cuba’s National Assembly approves a series of documents updating the country’s economic reform plan and laying out long-term goals through 2030. Those goals include the first official recognition of private enterprise and small- and medium-size businesses, although it could be years before any actual changes are felt on the ground in the country.

 

The Havana-based Association of Businessmen is trying to move ahead faster, organizing dozens of entrepreneurs into a group that will provide help, advice, training and representation to members of the private sector. The group applied in February for government recognition. While the official deadline for a response has passed, the group has yet to receive either an OK or negative attention from authorities, leaving it in the peculiar status known in Cuba as “alegal” or a-legal, operating unmolested but vulnerable to a crackdown at any time.

 

“People have approached with a lot of interest but they don’t want to join until we’re officially approved,” said Edilio Hernandez, one of the association’s founders. Trained as a lawyer, Hernandez also works as a self-employed taxi driver.

 

“Many people really understand that entrepreneurs need a guiding light, someone who helps them,” he said.

 

Another founder, Rodolfo Marino, has a construction license and has worked privately and under contract to state agencies. He said organizers of the association have gone door-to-door trying to recruit members by convincing them they need independent representation.

 

The group says roughly 90 entrepreneurs have signed up. Without legal recognition, the group is not yet charging membership fees, the organizers say. Until then, they meet occasionally in Marino’s Havana home to plan their path forward, which includes legal appeals for government recognition.

 

“We hope to push the country’s economic development forward,” he said.

 

The number of officially self-employed Cubans has grown by a factor of five, to 535,000 in a country of 11 million, since President Raul Castro launched limited market-based reforms in 2010. The government currently allows 200 types of private work, from language teacher to furniture maker. In reality, many officially self-employed people have become owners of small business, some with dozens of employees and hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual revenue — big number for a country where the monthly state salary is about $25.

 

Without access to government-controlled imports, exports or wholesale supplies, business owners are emptying the shelves of state stores, either by snapping up items as soon as they arrive or buying them stolen on the black market. That leaves them vulnerable to crackdowns and frequent extortion from state inspectors.

 

The government has taken a few tentative moves toward easing the situation in recent months — opening stores where owners of some of the country’s 21,000 bed-and-breakfasts and 2,000 private restaurants can buy large quantities of goods, although still at retail prices.

 

The state has also promised special access to gas and car parts to taxi drivers who comply with widely flouted government caps on fares.

 

Along with those small steps, the future of the Association of Businessmen is a gauge of Cuba’s openness to private enterprise and its ability to move forward, the group’s founders say.

 

“We really hope they approve us,” said Hernandez, the lawyer and taxi driver. “If they don’t, we’ll be in the hands of a state that considers us illegal and we won’t be able to reach our goal of representing entrepreneurs. If they do, it will be a sign that things are changing.”

 

 

 

 

Build a better website in less than an hour. Start for free at us.

Once-Flagging Alaska Space Business Shows Signs of Liftoff

When most people think of Alaska, they picture its thick forests, hulking grizzly bears and soaring, snow-covered peaks.

 

What they might not imagine is rockets whisking defense and other payloads into space. But America’s northernmost state has that too, entering the high-tech aerospace business more than 25 years ago as it looked to diversify its oil-reliant economy.

 

The Alaska Aerospace Corp. hit a low point after a rocket exploded at its launch site in 2014 amid a deepening state deficit. The governor later gave it an ultimatum: Become self-sustaining or shut down.

 

Today, Alaska Aerospace has rebuilt its launch site and is again showing signs of liftoff. It is no longer confined to Alaska or government contracts, recently winning, for example, a deal with Rocket Lab to track the company’s rockets and monitor its onboard systems in New Zealand.

 

Gov. Bill Walker said he is impressed by the corporation’s aggressive pursuit of contracts and its “transformation.” His budget office recently freed $2.2 million in state money previously earmarked for the corporation for launch site improvements.

 

“Two years ago, we had a failed rocket, and we had a destroyed facility, and we had no customers,” Alaska Aerospace CEO Craig Campbell said. “We’ve turned the corner.”

 

Alaska sought to develop its aerospace sector in 1991 as states and private organizations looked to capture a piece of a space industry that had once been the domain of NASA.

 

Alaska Aerospace now runs one of 10 commercial launch sites in the U.S. that are regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration. Some are co-located with federal facilities or have buzzy partnerships. The anchor tenant at New Mexico’s state-owned Spaceport America is Virgin Galactic.

 

Campbell is tight-lipped about some of the business at Alaska Aerospace’s launch site on Kodiak Island — about 250 air miles (402 kilometers) southwest of Anchorage in the Gulf of Alaska — because of proprietary concerns. But the remote site is well-positioned for polar launches, which often are used for communication and weather satellites and those that take images of Earth.

 

An advantage Alaska has over major launch sites is a lack of wait times, said Micah Walter-Range, research and analysis director for the Space Foundation, a space advocacy organization. A boom in smaller satellites tied to cheaper hardware components and other factors also presents opportunity, he said.

 

The corporation launched its first rocket in 1998. It had another 16 launches through 2014, when a rocket carrying an experimental Army strike weapon was blown up after taking off from Kodiak Island. All of the launches it conducted were for the federal government, including NASA.

 

The blast, which damaged launch site facilities, proved pivotal, coinciding with a ballooning state deficit and a diminished appetite among some Alaska legislators to put more state funding toward what some at that time saw as a money-sucking novelty.

 

State Rep. Scott Kawasaki, a frequent corporation critic, said Alaska Aerospace officials for the past 10 years have said things will be “wildly great.” But Kawasaki said the reality has never measured up.

 

Still, the Fairbanks Democrat said he’s willing to give the corporation time to prove itself amid a changing industry.

 

“I just don’t want them to keep overpromising because this Legislature doesn’t have the money to bail them out in the future,” Kawasaki said.

 

Besides rebuilding its launch site, Alaska Aerospace opened an office in Alabama to try to better compete for aerospace business and landed a multiyear, contract worth up to $80 million, with the federal Missile Defense Agency to test its system for detecting incoming missiles.

 

In addition, the corporation is evaluating building a second launch site closer to the equator so it can handle a wider range of satellites. Campbell called equatorial launches the “predominate orbit to meet the majority of the Earth’s population.”

 

Still, Alaska Aerospace remains at a critical juncture, with several launches lined up for this year and next and high hopes for becoming more profitable and further establishing itself in the industry.

 

Campbell’s goal is to have at least six launches a year. So far this year, he expects two as part of the Missile Defense testing program and one involving a company working on a small rocket. He declined to identify the company.

 

The corporation has 16 staff, down from 44 when Campbell took over. It also has a contingency of about 14 contractors, many of whom are former corporation employees, he said.

 

State Rep. Louise Stutes, a Kodiak Republican, said an influx of activity surrounding a launch boosts the region’s economy, though she noted the need to at times close roads for activities at the site has rankled some residents. About 13,500 people live in the Kodiak Island Borough.

 

Stutes, one of two nonvoting legislative members on the corporation’s board, called the facility first-class and a great asset.

 

“You just think, ‘Oh my God. This is in Kodiak?'” she said.

 

 

Build a better website in less than an hour. Start for free at us.

US Jobless Claims Rose to 248,000 Last Week

More people sought U.S. unemployment benefits last week, the second straight week of increases, though levels remain historically low.

 

THE NUMBERS: Applications for weekly unemployment aid rose 13,000 to 248,000. The four-week average, a less volatile figure, rose 2,500 to 238,000.

 

Applications are a close indication of layoffs. They have been below 300,000, a historically low figure, for 117 weeks. That’s the longest streak since 1970.

 

The number of people receiving aid rose 3,244 to 1.8 million, compared with 2 million in the same week last year. The figure has fallen 10 percent in the past year.

 

THE TAKEAWAY: The ultra-low figures add to evidence that companies are holding onto workers and hiring at a steady pace. Americans are spending more, factories have cranked up output and home sales are strong, boosting the economy after it barely expanded in the first three months of the year.

 

KEY DRIVERS: Hiring has remained steady, despite the first quarter’s slow growth. Employers added 211,000 jobs in April as the unemployment rate fell to a 10-year low of 4.4 percent. People who’d stopped looking for jobs are coming off the sidelines to find them. The market is looking toward Friday’s government report on unemployment for May, which likely will extend the pattern. The report is expected to show that employers added 176,000 jobs in May, according to a survey of economists by FactSet, a data provider. That’s in line with the 3-month average of 174,000 job gains.

 

The economy expanded by just 0.7 percent at an annual rate in the first three months of the year, the weakest showing in three years. Yet economists forecast that growth will pick up in the second quarter to roughly 3 percent.

 

Americans are buying homes at a solid clip and are spending more at restaurants and online retailers. Industrial production — output from factories, mines and utilities — jumped 1 percent in April, the biggest gain in more than three years.

 

 

 

Build a better website in less than an hour. Start for free at us.

Stalled Brazilian Odebrecht Projects Decay in Venezuela

In the hot and humid town of Caicara, in the heart of Venezuela, some 20 piers jutting out of the vast Orinoco river gather mildew and rust.

Brazilian construction company Odebrecht was meant to build an 11-km (seven-mile) bridge in the town — the longest in the South American country — in 2011, but the project ground to a halt a year ago.

Now, a handful of workers do basic maintenance work.

The bridge, meant to link the towns of Caicara and Cabruta, is just one of several abandoned Odebrecht projects deteriorating under the Caribbean sun and dogged by corruption allegations.

Odebrecht has left at least 23 multimillion dollar projects unfinished or stalled in Venezuela, according to company and government documents, interviews with over two dozens workers, and site visits.

Late last year, Latin America’s largest engineering company admitted to paying hundreds of millions of dollars of bribes in 12 mostly Latin American countries in exchange for contracts.

The unfolding scandal has already led to the downfall of high-ranking officials across the region.

On Thursday, Brazil’s attorney general will share information from plea bargain deals by dozens of Odebrecht executives with relevant countries.

According to a leniency agreement with U.S. authorities, which was made public in December, Odebrecht and its representatives paid some $98 million in bribes to officials and intermediaries in Venezuela between 2006 and 2015 — the highest amount outside Brazil.

Cash-strapped

Yet many of the company’s projects in Venezuela ground to a halt even before the Odebrecht scandal exploded, likely due to lack of payment from the cash-strapped socialist government, sources said.

“All the state’s projects are paralyzed, not only Odebrecht’s,” said Wilmer Nolasco, a lawyer and president of Venezuela’s largest construction union, speaking in an office in Caracas adorned with a statue of late leftist leader Hugo Chavez.

Odebrecht’s stalled projects include the Caicara project, one other huge bridge, subway lines, a train to link dormitory towns with Caracas, hillside cable cars, an agricultural project, an overhaul of the country’s main airport, and a hydroelectric dam.

Nolasco, whose powerful SUTIC union works on several of Odebrecht’s projects, says that in some cases the Salvador, Brazil-based company stopped receiving payments two years ago and subsequently pulled the plug on building.

“The state hasn’t paid Odebrecht,” said Nolasco, citing meetings in which Odebrecht asked the government to pay. The Venezuelan unit of Odebrecht said in a statement sent to Reuters that the completion times for its projects are “within what is normal for contracts of that nature.”

“The flow of payments responds to the availability of resources assigned annually for the execution of each project,” it said in the statement. “The works currently being executed have timeframes compatible with those budgets.”

Venezuela’s public works and communications ministries did not respond to requests for comment.

Odebrecht has not formally left Venezuela, nor has the government of Nicolas Maduro canceled its contracts.

But Odebrecht’s projects are under the protection of the National Guard and other government personnel, according to a Reuters witness, and company logos have been erased from the gates of their camps. Maduro in February vowed his administration would finish the projects, though none of them have been reactivated.

As a consequence, some 200,000 jobs have been lost, according to union estimates. Some of the works will also have to be redone partially because of flooding or because the cement has oxidized, project engineers told Reuters.

“This is basically lost,” said one worker, pointing to a pile of materials for the construction of line 2 of the Los Teques subway near Caracas, already six years behind schedule.

Some 20 workers scour the tunnels to drain water that threatens to flood them.

Risky friendship

Odebrecht arrived in Venezuela in 1992 to build a mall in the oil hub of Maracaibo near the Colombian border.

It grew steadily but it was not until 2003, with the election of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as president of Brazil, that it began a string of mega-projects in Venezuela.

After 2003, Odebrecht won 32 projects worth some $40 billion in Venezuela, according to official numbers. Brazilian rivals Queiroz Galvao, Camargo Correa and Andrade Gutierrez received a total of eight.

Even when Ecuador’s former leftist president Rafael Correa kicked out Odebrecht in 2008, accusing it of a scam after a hydroelectric dam it built had severe problems, Chavez publicly defended the company.

“Odebrecht is a friendly company and in Venezuela it’s behaved itself extraordinarily well,” Chavez said at the time.

While Odebrecht largely completed its works on time until 2007, it then began to delay completion dates, according to government and company records and interviews with engineers that worked on the projects and with Odebrecht personnel.

Anti-corruption campaigners accuse Odebrecht and complicit state officials of prioritizing personal gain.

“Seeing the quantity of unfinished works and the privileges this company was given, we suppose it was better to receive bribes than to see the works through,” said Mercedes de Freitas, local head of anti-corruption campaign group Transparency International.

The majority of projects also ended up costing several times their initial price, according to documents on the projects seen by Reuters and speeches by officials.

One part of the Caracas hillside gondola system cost $262 million, five times that of a similar project in the Colombian city of Medellin, though the Venezuelan line is shorter and flatter.

The construction of a bridge over Lake Maracaibo in the west of the country is only 17 percent completed but has cost three times the original budget, according to the documents and speeches.

Opposition investigates

Odebrecht and its petrochemical unit Braskem in late December agreed to pay at least $3.5 billion, the largest penalty ever in a foreign bribery case, after pleading guilty in a U.S. federal court in Brooklyn.

In mid-February, Venezuela’s state prosecutor’s office raided the headquarters of Odebrecht in Caracas. It has not given details of what it found.

The opposition-led National Assembly in February began an investigation into possible embezzlement of some $16 billion in negotiations between the Venezuelan government and Odebrecht, according to preliminary inquiries.

The report says six Odebrecht projects were subject to overpricing, commissions, bribes, and poor planning, and also ran over budget. That was just the tip of the iceberg, the head of the congressional comptroller’s commission, Juan Guaido, told Reuters.

“Venezuelans paid seven times more to contract Odebrecht,” said Guaido, basing his estimate on preliminary investigations by his team.

Guaido said the majority of Odebrecht’s 32 projects were directly assigned, via binational agreements, instead of public tenders as in other Latin American countries.

Build a better website in less than an hour. Start for free at us.

Tiger Wood’s Image Takes Hit But Sponsors Stay Put

The marketability of Tiger Woods will suffer following his arrest for driving under the influence, but the former world number one golfer’s current sponsors will likely stay by his side, according to experts.

Woods, who had surgery in April to relieve back pain, blamed the incident on prescription drugs, but that was not enough to keep his droopy-eyed mug shot from being etched in the minds of many who were once captivated by his dominance on the course.

Still, despite his struggles on and off the course, Woods is the greatest golfer of his generation and sponsors like Nike, Bridgestone Golf, Monster Energy and TaylorMade are not likely to rush and cut ties with him, marketing experts told Reuters.

“They have to be very measured in terms of their response to their relation with him,” said David Carter, professor of sports business at the University of Southern California’s Marshal School of Business.

“He may not be delivering value but you could also be doing harm to your own brand if you cut and run on a guy with such global notoriety.”

Has barely played in recent years

Woods is second on the all-time list with 14 major titles but a player whose famous fist pump and beaming smile were once a regular site on the PGA Tour has lost his form and barely played in recent years.

Most of his sponsors, when asked by Reuters if they would review their agreements with Woods in light of Monday’s DUI arrest, either did not respond to requests for comment or said it was inappropriate to do so at this time.

Bridgestone Golf, however, said they “will continue to monitor this situation and gather information from the appropriate sources investigating the matter.”

But details of the arrest report which stated, among other things, that Woods was asleep at the wheel of a parked car with the engine running and was disoriented when woken up by a police officer, cannot be sitting well with sponsors.

Sidelined with back injury

And with Woods expected to miss the rest of the 2016-17 PGA Tour season after back surgery, his level of appeal to companies may be at an all-time low.

“You can overcome a DUI if you are a big enough star and you keep winning,” said Bob Dorfman, creative director of Baker Street Advertising in San Francisco.

“But you can’t overcome not being on the course for months, not winning championships and being pretty much a non entity in the golf world. And that’s what Tiger has become and the prospects don’t look very promising for him.”

This is not the first time Woods has made headlines away from the course. In 2009, a sex scandal turned his previously unblemished life and career upside down.

It also cost Woods a number of endorsement deals, while other sponsors shifted away from using him in marketing but did not end their contracts with him.

‘He has less chips to play with’

Woods could see a similar reaction this time around.

“He’s not playing, he’s not winning and so he has less chips to play with, if you will, in the endorsement game so that clearly makes it even more difficult for him,” said George Belch, marketing professor at San Diego State University.

“But you are still talking about an extremely high profile athlete here who transcended sports in many ways even if his baggage has clearly gotten bigger through the years.”

While the arrest report showed Woods had no alcohol in his system, results of a urine test that have not been released will go a long way in determining Woods’ marketability.

Tell the truth

Andrew Zimbalist, an economics professor at Smith College in Massachusetts, said sponsors will likely cut ties with Woods should the results show he was lying.

“The main issue is whether Tiger’s story is accurate. If indeed he is taking multiple medicines and they interacted with each other and knocked him out and he didn’t anticipate it then I think he fully recovers,” said Zimbalist.

“Another part of his ability to rebound and what happens to his legacy is going to be determined by how he comes back as a golfer and nobody knows the answer to that, probably not even Tiger himself.”

Build a better website in less than an hour. Start for free at us.

US EPA Halts Methane Rule for Oil and Gas Industry

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday halted methane emission standards for oil and gas companies in its latest move to unwind Obama administration climate change rules, amid reports that the United States will withdraw from a global climate change agreement.

The agency issued a 90-day stay of the 2016 New Source Performance Standards for the oil and gas industry, which require companies to capture fugitive emissions, obtain engineer certifications and install leak detention devices while it reconsiders the rule.

The rule, completed last year under former President Barack Obama, was due to go into effect on June 3.

The EPA said it expects to prepare a proposed rule and launch a public comment period after the stay.

Environmental groups vowed on Wednesday to block the EPA move in court.

“The Trump administration is giving its friends in the oil and gas industry a free pass to continue polluting our air,” said David Doniger, director of the climate and clean air program at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “We will fight Trump’s latest polluter giveaway in court.”

The Environmental Defense Fund also said it would sue the EPA to block a rollback of the rule.

Methane is the second most prevalent greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide. Methane lasts in the atmosphere for 20 years, and is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide when it comes to trapping heat.

Build a better website in less than an hour. Start for free at us.