John Ransom - Bank of America Still Has Room for Improvement
Posted: 2/23/2014 7:54:00 PM EST

Welcome to John Ransom’s Stocks in the News where the headlines meet the trendlines:

Stock number one: Emeritus Corp.

Why Emeritus Corp. Shares Soared--The Motley Fool

What: Shares of Emeritus (NYSE: ESC) skyrocketed as much as 41% after the operator of senior living facilities in the United States agreed to be purchased by Brookdale Senior Living (NYSE: BKD) for $1.4 billion ($2.8 billion including debt).

So what: Under the terms of the deal, which was announced after the closing bell last night, Emeritus shareholders will receive 0.95 shares of Brookdale common stock, valuing the company at $29.58 per share as of this writing.

Symbol: ESC

Trailing PE: NA; Forward PE: NA


Dividend: NA

Estimate Trend: Flat

Ransom Note Trendline: Sell Emeritus Corp.

ESC Chart

ESC data by YCharts

Stock number two: Groupon, Inc.

Groupon Earnings Outlook Disappoints, Stock Falls- Investor's Business Daily

Daily deals company Groupon's (GRPN) Q1 sales guidance blew away analyst expectations, but the company said its full-year earnings would be only "slightly above" 2013 levels, sending the stock plummeting Friday.

The Chicago-based company late Thursday said it expects current-quarter sales of $710 million to $760 million, or $735 million at the midpoint. Analysts had been modeling $669 million, according to Thomson Reuters.

Symbol: GRPN

Trailing PE: NA Forward PE: 21

PEG: 1.55

Dividend: NA

Estimate Trend: Flat

Ransom Note Trendline: Hold Groupon

GRPN Chart

GRPN data by YCharts

Stock number three: Bank of America

Bank of America Gives CEO a $2 Million Raise- The Motley Fool

Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) announced on Wednesday that its chief executive officer, Brian Moynihan, got a $2 million raise for fiscal year 2013.

The news comes on the heels of yet another positive development for the bank, as a judge in New York refused to throw out an $8.5 billion settlement that Bank of America entered into in 2011. The ruling means the Charlotte-based bank is one giant step closer to fully atoning for its sins from the financial crisis.

But does this progress mean Moynihan deserved a nearly 17% raise? Motley Fool contributor John Maxfield thinks so.

Symbol: BAC

Trailing PE: NA; Forward PE: NA--- Price to book is key: 0.79


Dividend: 0.20%

Estimate Trend: Up

Ransom Note Trendline: Buy Bank of America

BAC Chart

BAC data by YCharts

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Nick Sorrentino - Joe Trippi: Technology is killing cronies, and there will be a libertarian president. And sooner than you think. (Video)
Posted: 2/21/2014 10:29:00 AM EST

Trippi is an old time Democratic consultant who is very smart and his analysis here is interesting. This is a video well worth watching for those who care about the massive political changes going on right now especially on the so called American “Right.” He sees the libertarian movement as perhaps the most important movement in American politics and a movement which will change (and is changing) the political landscape.

He, in my estimation makes a mistake however early in the interview and it is one I see with my liberal friends often. He argues that the “libertarians” and the Tea Party are distinct groups. I think this is wrong. There is much cross pollination. In fact I would say that the heart of the Tea Party is libertarian. The Tea Party is the Taxed Enough Already party. That is fundamentally libertarian. And people forget that Ron Paul founded the Tea Party.

Liberals always focus on the perceived socially conservative elements within the Tea Party, and though those elements exist they are less and less important with each passing year. I see the Tea Party as increasingly classically liberal, especially as people educate themselves about the Constitution and about what “small government” actually means.

That aside Trippi’s take on how technology is changing business and politics is right on.

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John Ransom - HomeAway Hits High; Sell the High
Posted: 2/21/2014 10:13:00 AM EST

Welcome to John Ransom’s Stocks in the News where the headlines meet the trendlines:

Stock number one: Conns Inc.

Conn's plunges after cutting profit forecasts for this year and next--Fly on the Wall

Shares of Conn's (CONN), a retailer of electronics, appliances, furniture and other home goods that also provides consumer credit to support purchases, are plunging after the company issued weaker than expect fourth quarter earnings guidance and lowered its fiscal 2014 and 2015 profit forecasts. WHAT'S NEW: This morning, Conn's forecast fourth quarter adjusted EPS of 75c-80c, far below expectations of 93c. The company also lowered its FY14 adjusted EPS view

Symbol: CONN

Trailing PE -17; Forward PE: 10

PEG: 0.90

Dividend: NA

Estimate Trend: Flat

Ransom Note Trendline: Sell Conns

CONN Chart

CONN data by YCharts

Stock number two: HomeAway

HomeAway Q4 Results Affirm Upbeat Online Travel Trend- Investor's Business Daily

HomeAway (AWAY) stock hit an all-time high Thursday after the online vacation home rental company late Wednesday reported Q4 earnings ahead of expectations and raised its Q1 guidance.

HomeAway revenue rose 26% from the year-earlier quarter to $90.3 million, its biggest gain in two years, beating views of $87.5 million. But HomeAway earned 8 cents a share, missing consensus estimates of 14 cents, as IBD reported. The results included an unspecified one-time expense related to its $200 million acquisition of Australia-based Stayz Group.

Symbol: AWAY

Trailing PE: 171 Forward PE: 52

PEG: 2.38

Dividend: NA

Estimate Trend: Flat

Ransom Note Trendline: Sell HomeAway

AWAY Chart

AWAY data by YCharts

Stock number three: Goodrich Petroleum Corp

Why Goodrich Petroleum (GDP) Is Plummeting Today- The

Goodrich Petroleum(GDP_) was plunging 17% to $12.69 on Thursday after the oil company announced fourth-quarter results that came up short of analysts' expectations.

The company reported fourth-quarter revenue of $50.6 million, up from $48.2 million in the same period a year earlier. Goodrich posted a loss of 73 cents a share for the fourth quarter. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected a loss of 48 cents a share on revenue of $62.4 million during the period.

Symbol: GDP

Trailing PE: NA; Forward PE: NA


Dividend: NA

Estimate Trend: Up

Ransom Note Trendline: Sell Goodrich Petroleum Corp

GDP Chart

GDP data by YCharts

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Mike Shedlock - Ukraine's President Replaces Head of Armed Forces, Military Intervention Feared; Financial Crisis Threatens Russia; What's in Store for the Ruble?
Posted: 2/21/2014 9:24:00 AM EST

The situation in Ukraine grows more desperate by the hour. President Viktor Yanukovic had already replaced the head of the army. Today Yanukovic replaced the head of all armed forces.

Given that lower ranks are divided in support, calling out the military could start an all-out civil war.

“If there is a decision to use force to clear the protesters, it can be done but will start a civil war,” said Ihor Smeshko, former head of Ukraine’s SBU security services. “The army is so far neutral, but if it is pulled into this conflict it will be a point of no return. Army personnel are themselves split 50/50 in their views of Ukraine.”

The government prepared the way for using the army on Wednesday, when the defence ministry said the military could be deployed in “antiterrorist” operations. Authorities and legal experts had previously said the army could only be used within Ukraine if a state of emergency was imposed.

Mr Yanukovich on Wednesday night also replaced the head of all Ukraine’s armed forces with the former navy chief – just weeks after he already replaced the head of the army – in what appeared to be a move to ensure loyalty in the top ranks.

“[The Yanukovich government] have put their placemen into the army,” said James Sherr, a Ukraine scholar at London’s Chatham House think-tank. “But still the question is what proportion of units would obey such orders?”

Financial Crisis Threatens Russia

The Telegraph reports Financial crisis threatens Russia as Ukraine spins out of control

The dramatic escalation of Ukraine’s civil conflict and fears of Russian military intervention have sent financial tremors across Eastern Europe, turning the region into the new fulcrum of the emerging market crisis.

“This has suddenly gone from a domestic Ukrainian story into a geopolitical clash,” said Lars Christensen, from Danske Bank.

The Russian ruble has fallen to a record low against the euro, with contagion reaching Poland, Hungary and Romania in recent days. “The moves in Russia are very like the events during the war in Georgia in 2008. Markets are pricing in the risk of Russian intervention,” he said.

Regis Chatellier, from Societe Generale, said there is a “high risk” that Ukraine will be pushed into default on its €60bn sovereign debt, triggering a credit shock for Russian banks. Sberbank and VTB are both large holders of Ukrainian bonds. Global emerging market bond funds hold 3pc of their portfolio in Ukrainian debt. “The spillover effect of a Ukrainian default would be significant, but not systemic,” he said.

The decision by the Ukrainian nationalist stronghold of Lvov this week to declare “independence” from Kiev has upped the ante, creating a volatile climate in which the Ukrainian army may be forced to intervene to head off civil war.

“Ukraine is on the verge of splitting into two countries. We’re looking at events that we have not seen in Europe since the break-up of Yugoslavia,” said one City economist with links to Lvov. “When you have this level of hatred and mistrust, anything can happen.”

Ukraine’s foreign reserves are down to survival levels. Russia has so far kept the country afloat with a $3bn loan, the first tranche of a $15bn bailout, but further payments are in doubt.

Russia faces the choice of large losses from a default or the ever rising costs of propping up Ukraine's economy. Military intervention to subjugate the rebels in the Catholic strongholds of Western Ukraine orbit could lead to a quagmire.

The International Monetary Fund said in a report for the G20 summit this weekend that emerging market woes are the key risk for global recovery, warning that a trifecta of “capital outflows, higher interest rates and sharp currency depreciation” could set off a corporate debt crisis.

Societe Generale said in a new report that emerging markets have risen from 18pc of world output to 40pc over the past 20 years, implying that a broad upheaval in these countries today would have “much greater ramifications for the global economy”.

US$ vs. Ruble

Euro vs. Ruble

It is impossible to know what's ahead. A civil war could break out tomorrow, but so could another cease fire. The military could even oust the president.

The longer this simmers, the more pressure there is on emerging markets and the more pressure there is on any banks that lent money to Ukraine. Meanwhile, check out the collapse in the Ukranian Hryvna.

Euro vs. Hryvna

So far, things are still orderly. If a full scale civil war breaks out, it won't be.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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Nick Sorrentino - Absolutely True: ‘Millennials Are the Most Libertarian Generation’
Posted: 2/20/2014 12:43:00 PM EST

The attached article comes from John Stossel who was at the International Students for Liberty conference this past weekend in Washington DC. I was there too, and John is right. Millennials are absolutely oriented toward liberty, much more so than their parents, that is for sure.

The kids at the conference were not a representative sample of course. Almost everyone kicking around the halls of the Grand Hyatt had probably read at least some Hayek and could quote you at least a couple of lines from Murray Rothbard. It was a wonky bunch. But these kids are just the tip of the liberty spear.

The current generation coming into adulthood has grown up on the Internet. The generation rising fundamentally understands the self ordering nature of markets. If an article or video is good, vote it up, and share it with friends. If an article or video isn’t good vote it down or just move on. In this process the best rises (generally) to the top.

The most important market in the world is the marketplace of ideas, and today’s new leaders live in the marketplace. The ebb and flow of the universe doesn’t scare them the way it did past generations which didn’t have the blessings of the Internet. The natural order of things is to be embraced, not feared. This is a core element of Generation Net.

So we shouldn’t be surprised by the exponential growth of libertarianism among today’s youth. It just makes sense in an open source world.

(From Newsmax)

” . . . this is the most libertarian generation. The millennial generation is more social, organized, and receptive to liberty, but also the most punished by the economic misconduct of older generations.”

Old politicians and old voters may never change their minds. But libertarianism grows fastest among the young, and so groups like Students for Liberty give me hope. Those young people sure know more about liberty that I did when I was their age.

Click here for the article.

Read more at Against Crony

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Mike Shedlock - Spotlight on Ukraine: Riots in Kiev, EU Weighs Sanctions, Emergency Meetings; Fear of Default Contagion Spreads
Posted: 2/20/2014 12:42:00 PM EST

The situation in Ukraine grows worse by the day. Here is a recap of recent events.

Bloody Riots

Reuters: Ukraine police charge protesters after nation's bloodiest day

Ukrainian riot police charged protesters occupying a central Kiev square early on Wednesday after the bloodiest day since the former Soviet republic, caught in a geopolitical struggle between Russia and the West, won its independence more than 22 years ago.

At least 18 people, including seven policemen, died on Tuesday during hours of violence between security forces and civilians who have staged protests against President Viktor Yanukovich since last November.

Many were killed by gunshot and hundreds more were injured, with dozens of them in a serious condition, police and opposition representatives said.

The riot police moved in hours after Moscow gave Ukraine $2 billion in aid for its crippled economy which it had been holding back to demand decisive action to crush the protests.

Nationwide demonstrations erupted after Yanukovich bowed to Russian pressure and pulled out of a planned far-reaching trade agreement with the European Union, deciding instead to accept a Kremlin bailout for the heavily indebted economy.

EU Weighs Sanctions, Emergency Meeting Called

Financial Times: EU weighs sanctions against ‘authors of violence’ in Kiev

Europe’s top diplomats have been summoned to an emergency meeting in Brussels today after EU leaders called for sanctions against the Ukrainian government in response to a bloody crackdown that killed more than two dozen people.

The push for sanctions against Viktor Yanukovich, Ukraine’s president, and his allies marks a significant shift for the EU, which has so far insisted on a diplomatic response to the crisis. But it is not guaranteed the unanimous support required by the 28-member bloc, amid fears from some member states that a harder approach could push the country closer to civil war.

A group led by France and Poland will push for sanctions at an emergency meeting of foreign ministers in Brussels. Although they are backed by Germany and the Czech Republic, several countries – including Italy, the Netherlands and Finland – are reluctant to move quickly. Spain prefers a diplomatic solution rather than sanctions.

The Obama administration said on Wednesday that it had placed 20 Ukrainian officials on a visa blacklist as a result of the violence in Kiev on Tuesday.

In the first sign of the EU’s economic pressure coming to bear on Ukraine, the head of the EU’s investment bank said that it had halted investments there. Werner Hoyer, president of the European Investment Bank, said that he had suspended activities in Ukraine, where the EIB has pledged to invest more than €1bn since 2011 in ventures such as a metro line and an air traffic control system.

Civil War Feared

Financial Times: Ukraine Facing Most Dangerous Hour for Many Years

The crisis in Ukraine appeared to be spinning out of control on Wednesday, leaving the former Soviet republic facing its most dangerous hour not just since independence in 1991 but for many decades.

While anti-government protesters tore up cobblestones along Khreshchatyk, Kiev’s main avenue, as weapons to resist a second night-time assault by riot police, Donald Tusk, Polish prime minister, warned that the world might be witnessing “the first hours of a Ukrainian civil war”.

“There is no civil war between the east and west of Ukraine,” said Olexiy Haran, a political scientist and member of the protest co-ordinating committee. “There are no people in the east of Ukraine who are going to die for Yanukovich.”

But a civil war was under way, he added, between “the people of Ukraine, and the Berkut [special police] and titushki” – the nickname for hired, pro-regime thugs that authorities have used in Kiev and elsewhere to beat up protesters.

With only about 4,000-5,000 Berkut police, and perhaps 15,000-20,000 well-trained and equipped interior ministry troops, analysts say the government would struggle to prevail over widespread and determined opposition, especially in the west. But plenty of blood could potentially be spilled along the way.

“This week we realised it isn’t easy to resist when you’re not armed and you are facing people who are using real bullets,” said Mr Haran.

Ukraine Leader Denounces Coup

Reuters: Ukraine leader denounces coup bid, West readies sanctions.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich accused pro-European opposition leaders on Wednesday of trying to seize power by force after at least 26 people died in the worst violence since the former Soviet republic gained independence.

The White House urged Ukraine to pull back riot police, call a truce and talk to the opposition. But the Ukrainian security services said they were launching an "anti-terrorist operation" across the country after the seizure of government buildings, arms and ammunition dumps by "extremist groups".

Protesters have been occupying central Kiev for almost three months since Yanukovich spurned a far-reaching trade deal with the EU and accepted a $15-billion Russian bailout instead.

The sprawling nation of 46 million, with an ailing economy and endemic corruption, is the object of a geopolitical tug-of-war between Moscow and the West. That struggle was played out in hand-to-hand fighting through the night, lit by blazing barricades on Kiev's Independence Square, or Maidan. As dusk fell on Wednesday, protesters braced for more police action.

After a night of petrol bombs and gunfire on Independence Square, black smoke billowed from a charred trade union building that protest organizers had used as a headquarters.

When fighting subsided at dawn, the square resembled a battle-zone, the ground charred by Molotov cocktails. Helmeted young activists used pickaxes, and elderly women their bare hands, to dig up paving to stock as ammunition.

Amid a tense standoff in the central Kiev square, thousands of protesters, many masked and in combat fatigues, confronted police across makeshift barricades for a second straight day.

Priests intoned prayers from a stage while young protesters in hard-hats improvised forearm and knee pads to protect themselves against baton blows. Others prepared petrol bombs.

"They can come in their thousands but we will not give in. We simply don't have anywhere to go. We will stay until victory and will hold the Maidan until the end," said a 44-year-old from Ternopil who gave only his first name of Volodymyr.

Ukraine has been rocked periodically by political turmoil since independence from the Soviet Union more than 22 years ago, but it has never experienced violence on this scale.

Debt Default Contagion

Financial Times: Violence increases fears of debt default contagion

The worsening violence in Ukraine is adding to the strains on emerging markets, as investors weigh the risks to neighbouring economies and the potential for a Ukrainian debt default to trigger a renewed sell-off in the assets of other countries.

The chaos unfolding in Kiev hit central and eastern European currencies on Wednesday, with Poland’s zloty falling 0.5 per cent to 4.1478 against the euro. Hungary’s forint, already under pressure from persistently dovish monetary policy, fell about 1 per cent to 227.43 against the dollar, while the Romanian leu slipped 0.6 per cent. Fears over Ukraine also exacerbated a sharp fall in Russia’s rouble.

Donald Tusk, Poland’s prime minister, urged the country’s parliament “to prepare Poland and Europe for the most dramatic possibilities”, in a speech that showed the degree of concern felt in the country most directly exposed to Ukraine’s turmoil.

“The implications for neighbouring countries should not be underestimated,” said Simon Quijano-Evans, head of emerging market research at Commerzbank,” noting that investors had previously underplayed the risks of unrest around the Arab world.

“A default could have a destabilising impact,” said Koon Chow, head of emerging markets strategy at Barclays Capital. Ukraine could only be a trigger for a return of gloom to emerging markets – but with emerging markets still fragile after the last month’s sell-off, and political crises deepening from Venezuela to Thailand, “we didn’t need much”.

On behalf of Mish readers globally, I send best wishes to the citizens of Ukraine.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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John Ransom - Signet Goes on Jewlery Spree
Posted: 2/20/2014 12:41:00 PM EST

Welcome to John Ransom’s Stocks in the News where the headlines meet the trendlines:

Stock number one: Zale Corporation

Signet Jewelers To Acquire Zale Corp.--Forbes

Signet Jewelers, the largest specialty retail jeweler in the US and the UK, and Zale Corp., a leading fine jewelry retailer in North America, said Wednesday that they have entered into a definitive agreement for Signet to acquire all of the stock of Zale for $21 per share in cash.

The deal is estimated to have an enterprise value of $1.4 billion (which includes stock price and debt) and is 41% over Zale’s closing price on February 18, according to a joint statement issued Wednesday morning.

Symbol: ZLC

Trailing PE -; Forward PE: -

PEG: -

Dividend: -

Estimate Trend: Up

Ransom Note Trendline: Sell Zale Corporation

ZLC Chart

ZLC data by YCharts

Stock number two: SM Energy Company

Why SM Energy (SM) Was Downgraded - The

SM Energy (SM_) was downgraded to "hold" from "buy"" by KeyBlanc Wednesday. SM Energy fell 18.6% to $72.94 in morning trading. The firm removed its price target for the oil and gas company, which was previously set at $108. The downgrade is largely due to the company's lower crude production.

"Year-end 2013 proved reserve bookings were strong, with total reserves up 46% and PV-10 totaling $5.5 billion, which increased our 1P estimate by $15/share to $51/share," analyst Jack N. Aydin said.

"However, the Company's Eagle Ford EURs were largely revised lower despite incorporating longer lateral lengths, which increased the average well cost, while the EUR oil mix generally declined across its acreage."

Symbol: SM

Trailing PE: 51 Forward PE: 13

PEG: 0.34

Dividend: 0.10%

Estimate Trend: Up

Ransom Note Trendline: Sell SM Energy Company

SM Chart

SM data by YCharts

Stock number three: Garmin Ltd.

Garmin hits 52-week high after results top expectations - Fly on the Wall

Shares of Garmin (GRMN), which manufactures global positioning systems, are advancing after the company reported fourth quarter results that easily surpassed expectations and offered a better than expected fiscal 2014 revenue outlook. WHAT'S NEW: This morning, Garmin reported Q4 adjusted earnings per share of 76c and revenue of $759.7M, compared to expectations of 62c and $712.78M, respectively. The midpoint of the company's FY14 profit view was in-line with estimates. However, Garmin's FY14 revenue forecast of $2.6B-$2.7B surpassed the consensus forecast of $2.58B.

Symbol: GRMN

Trailing PE: 17; Forward PE: 20

PEG: 2.64

Dividend: 4.0%

Estimate Trend: Up

Ransom Note Trendline: Buy on pullback under 50

GRMN Chart

GRMN data by YCharts

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Chris Versace - Take General Motors for a Spin
Posted: 2/19/2014 12:05:00 PM EST

Over the last few weeks, volatility has picked up in the stock market. This has driven many stocks to short-term lows, yet fundamentals continue to be favorable. Despite a rebound in bullish sentiment per the latest American Association of Individual Investor survey, investors pulled $24 billion out of U.S. equity funds during the week of Feb 5. Even though the stock market had one of its best weeks in some time last week, there are ample opportunities to pick up stocks with discrepancies between the business fundamentals and the price.

Read more at the See the video here.

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Mike Shedlock - Is Chicago Like France? Worse, Actually
Posted: 2/19/2014 12:05:00 PM EST

Inquiring minds just may be wondering "Is Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel a Friend of Taxpayers or Businesses?"

In case you are wondering, please consider what Illinois Policy Institute writer Jacob Huebert says via email.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently proposed an ordinance that would regulate popular ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft in Chicago.

Emanuel often claims that he wants Chicago to be friendly to new businesses, innovation and technology. Unfortunately, his proposal is anything but friendly to these “transportation network” services, and would force them to either severely change the way they operate or leave the city entirely.

Where other cities have changed their laws to accommodate these new services, Chicago appears determined to continue using the law to protect established taxi companies from competition at everyone else’s expense.

Here are seven of the proposal’s worst anticompetitive features.

1. Ride-share companies can’t own vehicles – or help drivers buy them

One provision of the ordinance says that the operator of a ride-share service cannot “own, provide financing for the obtaining, leasing, or ownership of, or have a beneficial interest in transportation network vehicles.”

As it stands, neither Uber nor Lyft actually owns any cars or employs any drivers – they just bring drivers and passengers together. But who’s to say some future entrepreneur won’t find a way to make it economical for the “network” to also own vehicles or help its drivers buy them? And how does preemptively banning this help the public? In fact, it doesn’t do anything for the public; it’s just a way to stop ride-sharing companies from finding new ways to outcompete established taxicab companies.

2. No taxis allowed

Currently you can use Uber to summon three types of vehicles: black luxury cars, taxis and budget “UberX” cars. The taxis you can hail with Uber are normal, licensed Chicago cabs, and drivers have signed up to participate; it’s no different from calling for a cab by telephone or flagging one down on the street, except that it’s much more convenient.

The proposed ordinance would eliminate the taxi option for Uber customers by prohibiting taxis from participating in licensed transportation networks. How that could possibly benefit the public is a mystery. If the city adopts this rule, it will be destroying something that makes everyone’s lives easier for no good reason.

3. No advertising

Under the ordinance, advertisements wouldn’t be allowed on the inside or outside of vehicles. In the short term, that might not matter because, as things stand, Uber black cars, UberX cars and Lyft cars don’t have any ads in them or on them; only taxis have ads.

But maybe Uber, Lyft or a future service will want its cars to have ads. And maybe some customers wouldn’t mind seeing ads, especially if it meant cheaper fares.
Apparently the city wants to give taxis a monopoly on the vehicle-advertising business. That not only doesn’t serve a legitimate governmental purpose; but it also violates the First Amendment.

4. No airport drop-offs

Uber and Lyft cars already aren’t allowed to make airport pickups. Under the new ordinance, they wouldn’t be allowed to drop off passengers, either. This, of course, serves no purpose except to protect taxi companies from competition.

5. No time-and-distance pricing

Perhaps the proposal’s worst feature is that it would prohibit Uber and Lyft cars from charging passengers based on “a combination of distance travelled and time elapsed during service,” which is how they charge customers now. Instead, the cars would have to charge a prearranged flat fee or charge customers based on either time or distance – but not both.

That’s nonsensical. It’s only rational to charge customers based both on time and distance, because both affect the driver’s costs, and there’s no way to account for traffic conditions in advance. That’s why taxis charge based on both time and distance – and it’s why taxi companies don’t want Uber and Lyft to be able to use this method for charging customers.

6. Mandatory emblems

The ordinance would also require all cars in a given network to have an “emblem” on the outside of their car to identify which network they’re in. Lyft already does this with its cars’ pink mustaches. Uber, however, doesn’t – and its black cars’ logo-free appearance is part of what gives Uber cars their distinct cool, classy vibe.

Forcing Uber to add a logo serves no legitimate purpose. Customers don’t need a logo to identify their Uber car for several obvious reasons: (1) the Uber app shows them their driver’s name and picture, along with the car’s license plate number; (2) the Uber app lets the customer see where the car is on a map when it’s on its way and when it arrives; and (3) Uber drivers identify themselves upon arrival and confirm that they have the correct passenger.
So the only purpose of this requirement is to make Uber cars a little less special – that is, once again, to hamper competition for the taxi companies’ benefit.

7. Big Brother-style GPS tracking

The ordinance would also require the networks to allow the city to monitor all of their vehicles at all times by GPS. But the city has no legitimate need to know where every Uber or Lyft driver is at all times – let alone where their passengers go. If the city needs particular GPS information for a law-enforcement purpose – if, say, a car was implicated in a crime – it can always get a warrant for that data.

Citizens should be disturbed by this invasion of privacy, which violates the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Citizens should also be disturbed by a city government that’s more concerned about pleasing a politically connected special-interest group than in letting consumers choose the services they like best. And they should be disturbed that government officials are more interested in continuing cronyism for as long as possible than in letting Chicago thrive in the 21st century.

Chicagoans should demand that city officials either remove these features from the proposed ordinance or, better yet, scrap it entirely and replace it with one that simply declares that these transportation services are legal and may continue operating as they have been.

Jacob Huebert
Senior Attorney
Liberty Justice Center

Is Chicago Like France?

Unfortunately, the answer is yes, if not worse.

For sake of comparison, please consider the New Law in France: Limos Must Wait 15 Minutes Minimum Before Picking Up Rides

To explicitly answer my lead question, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is no Friend of Taxpayers. Rather Emanuel is a friend of political cronies who undoubtedly contribute to his election campaign.

But hey: Chicago is the "City that Works". The question is "For Whom?"

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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Nick Sorrentino - Revolving Door: LaHood Joins Board of Electric Car Battery Company He Championed as Transportation Secretary
Posted: 2/19/2014 12:05:00 PM EST

It just never stops revolving – never. It’s nice that this particular company wouldn’t exist at all were it not for the taxpayer dollars it was given.

So in a sense LaHood is still being paid by you and me, even now that he’s out of government. Only he’s likely being paid a good bit more these days.

(From The Washington Free Beacon)

Proterra made the announcement on Tuesday, adding that LaHood “can offer insight into so many of the key issues facing our industry.”

As transportation secretary, LaHood wrote a post titled “Winning the Future, Proterra Style” on the White House blog about a visit he made to South Carolina to tour Proterra, a company he said could “out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build their competition.”

LaHood explained that Proterra was a troubled company before Obama’s Department of Transportation came to its support with a grant program.

Click here for the article.

Read more at Against Crony

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