Joining me this week on PowerTalk is Alice Joe, Executive Director, Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness at U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Alice and I talk about not only  about The Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act,  but many of the issues it creates and the ensuing uncertainty. For example, did you know that certain aspects of Dodd-Frank could alter the way companies like McDonald’s, The Hershey Company and Starbucks conduct their business? Not only that but when Alice and I spoke, she shared with me that roughly one-third of the 400 new rules to be put forth by Dodd-Frank across more than 10 agencies in DC had yet to be proposed.  

Those two examples describe just some of the uncertainty that Dodd-Frank is creating in the business community. Dodd-Frank aside, there’s plenty of uncertainty to go around  these days -- new data shows the average American household is earning less than when the Great Recession ended four years ago. In a letter to congressional leaders, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew warned they will have to raise the debt limit by mid-October -- sooner than previously expected and that ups the ante between raising the current raise the debt ceiling vs. shut the government imbroglio that is under way in Washington, D.C. Recently U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons against civilians was a "moral obscenity," delivering the clearest indication yet that the Obama administration contemplating military action against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Add to that the tapering question after a weak July durable orders report and there is ample uncertainty to be had. 

 With something as big as Dodd-Frank, you probably think there’s more than just a few points of uncertainty, particularly since more than one-third of the rule have yet to be passed. You’d be right and that’s exactly what Alice and I talk about in this edition of PowerTalk. Luckily, Alice has some suggestions as to how this mess can be fixed and uncertainty can be minimized if not removed. 

Direct download: 08-27-13_CHAMBERCOMMERCEPOWERTALK.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:24pm EST

This week on PowerTalk I’m serving up our late summer reading list. That’s right, the last few weeks of August tend to be filled with cookouts, vacations and lounging by the pool. If your doing those things, or if your like me and your not, you still need a good book or two to get your through the dog days of summer. With that in mind, I’m bringing you two books that are great reads in general, but make for great end of the summer reads. 

The first is Niall Ferguson’s latest book -  “The Great Degeneration.” Odds are you’ve heard of his other books -- "The House of Rothschild", "The Pity of War", "The Cash Nexus" and many others including "The Ascent of Money", which was the basis for a PBS series that won the International Emmy for best documentary. In The Great Degeneration, Niall tackles the decay in four key institutions -- representative government, the free market, the rule of law and civil society -- that he argues have been the key to success in Western Civilization. We talk about whether or not its over for us as a people and I think you’ll be surprised by what he has to say. 

The second is Conrad Black’s “Flight of the Eagle” and its another great read that traces America’s evolution, discussing key events, strategies and problems along the way. Conrad’s perspective is insightful and informative, but that’s something to expect from him considering that by the late 1990s, he had more than 500 publications under his banner as he headed the world’s third largest newspaper group and the largest print-only media operation. Aside from his new book, Conrad shares his outlook on the publishing industry and what he would do if today if he was charged with fixing a major newspaper like The New York Times or The Washington Post. Much like in "Flight of the Eagle", Conrad’s unique perspective on this doesn’t disappoint.  

Direct download: 08-16-13_SUMMEREADINGPOWERTALK.mp3
Category:investing, economics, -- posted at: 12:32pm EST

Joining me on PowerTalk this week to talk about the economy, the outlook for small business and job creation prospects as well as the availability of credit is Jay DesMarteau, Head of Small Business, SBA, Restaurant, & Government Banking at TD Bank. 

Each week on PowerTalk, we go behind the scenes to put you in the know - this time we’re talking about the lifeblood of job creation here in the U.S - small business. Based on the recent July employment report, which disappointed on several levels,  it seems that small business is only moving at half speed. The weakness in hiring is not all that surprising given some of the data that Jay shared with me -- only 17% of small businesses  planned to hire at least one new employee, down from 32% six months ago. However, more than three-quarters of small business owners intend to keep staffing levels the same, up from 59% in December.

If you or someone you know owns a small business or is looking to start one, then you know that access to credit or business loans is key. Whether your a new business, one that is trying to get off the ground by a veteran or a entrepreneur or its an an existing one business that is looking to expand to another location, add another product line, bid on another project or maybe even expand your hours of operation, access to capital is needed in order to grow that business and put more people to work.

Jay and I talk about TD Bank, one of the 10 largest banks in the country and what’s is doing to help small business, but also the size and scope of Jays’ team of 150 small business relationship managers and more than 1,300 TD Bank store managers. We also touch on the economy and what Jay and his team are seeing from small business owners. Even though deposits are high, small businesses remain on the sidelines when it comes to taking on new credit, expanding and hiring. 

Jay shares some of the challenges facing small business owners including growing their business, the economic environment and cash flow. In addition to all of that and talking specifically about what he and his team is seeing in the restaurant, healthcare and government markets, Jay also introduce us to some very specific efforts from TD Bank and the International Franchise Association to help veterans find jobs and start businesses - the SBA Veterans program. 

Direct download: 08-12-13_TDBANKPOWERTALK_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:02am EST

Joining me this week on PowerTalk to talk about the Moto X and Motorola’s re-shoring of jobs is Mark Randall, Motorola Mobility’s Senior Vice President of Supply Chain and Operations. 

We all now recognize the July 2013 Employment Report not only fell short of expectations with only 162,000 jobs added during the month, but sifting through the details it can easily be labeled a low quality report:

  • The unemployment rate fell only because more Americans left the labor force than the total number of jobs created during July
  • Where we saw job growth was primarily at low-paying and part-time jobs
  • Wages remain under pressure.

The news is also a buzz over the latest and greatest new device be it a new smartphone, tablet or streaming device that attaches to the back of your TV.  We as a people are connecting and interacting with each other more than ever thanks to the explosion in smartphones. Almost 230 million smartphones were shipped the June quarter alone and while that sounds like a lot, industry data points to more than 3.2 million mobile subscriptions. That says the shift from mobile phones to smartphones is far from over.

One company that is looking to tackle both of these is Motorola Mobility, which is owned by Google. Not only did the two entities announce the Moto X -- the first jointly developed smartphone between the two companies last week, but the device will be manufactured here in the U.S. 

That’s right....Motorola Mobility is re-shoring jobs to the tune of 2,200 when the Moto X smartphone is at full production. 

During my PowerTalk with Mark, we talk about what it takes to make the Moto X such a high customizable device and why domestic manufacturing can compete with China and other low cost manufacturing alternatives. With a facility in Fort Worth, Texas that spans more than 500,000 square feet, I suspect Motorola is just getting started with the Moto X and that’s good for not only Google, but for American jobs. 

Direct download: 08-05-13_MOTOROLAPOWERTALK.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:10pm EST