A massive China-based conglomerate headed by a member of the nation’s ruling Communist Party announced last week the largest ever corporate takeover of an American firm by a Chinese company, sparking concerns among analysts about the regime’s projection of “soft power.” For more than $2.5 billion, the Dalian Wanda Group agreed to purchase U.S.-based AMC Entertainment Holdings — one of the world’s top movie theater chains — to create what will become the biggest cinema operator on earth after the merger.
Critics of the deal expressed alarm over the influence the deal is expected to give China’s totalitarian rulers within the U.S. and international film industry. As the second-largest movie-theater chain in America, Kansas City-based AMC owns or operates hundreds of cinemas in more than 30 U.S. states and at least five other nations. It is also the world’s largest operator of I-MAX and 3D screens.
ClearSign Combustion in Seattle, Washington, is one of the first small “early-stage” companies to raise public capital under the JOBS Act enacted in early April. The company’s core expertise is in using computer technology to make boilers, furnaces, turbines, and other combustion systems more efficient. It sold three million shares at $4 each, raising $12 million in the process. After expenses and underwriters’ fees, the company expects to net about $9.5 million. But without the JOBS Act it might not even have bothered.
As free market-based digital currencies like Bitcoin and e-gold continue to gain traction around the world, the government of Canada responded with the “MintChip,” an electronic payment system touted by authorities as “better than cash” and the “evolution of currency.” Critics of the scheme, however, were not so enthusiastic about the accelerating march toward a cashless society.
In his 2013 budget proposal, President Barack Obama is asking for what amounts to a tripling of the corporate dividends tax rate for high-income earners (individuals and households with annual incomes exceeding $200,000 and $250,000, respectively). If it were just a typical attack on the wealthy, with the usual negative side effects of transferring cash from job creators to politicians, it would be bad enough. But a huge hike in the dividend tax rate will have ripple effects throughout the economy, discouraging investments, depressing stock prices, and reducing dividend payments — all of which will harm Americans at every income level.
The Obama administration continues to set unfavorable conditions for businesses to prosper, this time through overbearing new fuel standards that auto dealers fear will “price out millions of buyers from the new car market.” If that were to happen, the new standards would undermine the touted benefits of the environmental program while simultaneously infringing upon the auto industry’s chance for a full recovery.
A combination of several factors, including a declining dollar and the Federal Reserve’s announcement that it would keep interest rates at virtually zero until late 2014, helped to send gold and silver prices soaring to multi-week highs. Analysts expect the upward trend to continue as paper currencies founder and gloomy news continues to dominate the economic headlines.
Last Friday’s unemployment numbers, on the surface at least, appeared to reflect a growing, albeit slowly, economy. The number of new unemployment claims for the week ending January 14th dropped to 352,000, down from 402,000 the previous week, and down from 415,000 a year ago. The four-week moving average also dropped, from 382,500 to 379,000.
After 131 years, it appears that Eastman Kodak will be declaring Chapter 11 bankruptcy before the end of the month, according to the Wall Street Journal. It is currently seeking to sell off some of its 10,000 patents in order to stave off the inevitable, but the company is burning through its remaining cash reserves and credit lines rapidly. The last time Kodak was profitable was 2007 when its stock traded at $30 a share. On Friday, its last trade was at $0.37 a share. It’s in the process of being de-listed from the New York Stock Exchange, and Moody’s has downgraded the company’s credit to junk status.
The Washington Post’s editorial celebrating the ending of ethanol subsidies iterated the same free-market positions taken by Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and other Austrian school economists about those subsidies. Calling the 45-cent-per-gallon tax credit supporting U.S. corn-based ethanol production and the 54-cent-per-gallon tariff on imported ethanol “two of the most wasteful subsidies ever to clutter the Internal Revenue Code,” the Post estimated that ending those subsidies will save the U.S. taxpayer approximately $6 billion this year.