The Duplicity of T. Boone Pickens

Here’s my problem with Pickens (who I admire, really). He went out and funded a big marketing campaign promoting a pamphlet, not a plan, that supported a natural gas distribution business he is a primary investor in, and then a proposition on the California ballot which would benefit… a natural gas distribution business he is a primary investor in. In addition to natural gas, Pickens is also behind Mesa Energy, the giant wind farm company that launched earlier this year and has yet to build a wind farm, although that as well would have benefited from another CA ballot proposition.

Now we see that Pickens’ appetite for alternative energy at any cost actually has limits, namely cheap oil and tight global credit markets are causing Pickens to suddenly get tight fisted. What was lost in Pickens’ folksy southern drawl laden pitch was the notion that creating public policy conditions favorable to him would allow him to expand these companies with debt rather than his own capital, which was a departure from what he was telling everyone in the many interviews he was giving.

Boone in July launched a public campaign, said to be funded with $57 million of Boone’s money, to wean the U.S. off oil imports through a massive investment in wind energy and conversion to natural gas for vehicles.

Speaking at a Forbes Energy Conference on Wednesday, Boone said he has had to delay financing the project. But he characterized it as a temporary setback.

[From T. Boone Pickens may stall wind farm plans | Green Tech - CNET News]

None of this is inherently dishonest, and at no point did Pickens ever suggest he wasn’t trying to take advantage of the public policy court of popular opinion to achieve his goals. It is duplicitous nonetheless because he is attempting to circumvent economic markets through buying of public policy markets. This is just more of the same when it comes to energy, and in many ways is no different than corn farmers in Iowa, Illinois, and Nebraska using the energy debate as a way of ensuring a business for biofuel while at the same time penalizing sugar cane based ethanol being imported in from South America.

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Sony PS3, Just Call a Do-Over. Please.

I could make a career writing about how much suckage the Sony PS3 represents. Almost 2 years ago I wrote a detailed list of things that were wrong with the PS3 and it still applies today, except Sony was forced to accept market reality and drop the price from $600 originally and there are much better game titles available today.

It’s still tough rock for Sony to push, as console sales figures out today reveal, given that they haven’t changed the marketing focus and there is still no strong online offering. Even without the Wii, Sony is getting their ass kicked by Microsoft who is selling Xbox 360 consoles 2-to-1 against the PS3, despite having a serious quality issue that set them back recently and essentially the same game title library.

# Wii: 803,000 consoles
# Xbox 360: 370,000
# PS3: 190,000
# PS2: 136,000 (People are still buying PS2s?)

[From October Game Sales: Nintendo Wii Kicking PS3 Butt]

Compounding Sony’s problems are the PSP, which has not had a meaningful upgrade/redesign in far too long, is underpowered, doesn’t have the equivalent of an “app store”, and doesn’t have any new compelling game titles. So now Nintendo is parlaying their success with the Wii for further success in the handheld category where the DS is outselling the PSP 2.5:1.

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11 Million Percent Inflation

African leaders once again pass the buck on Zimbabwe, caving to Mugabe’s thugs and further legitimizing the disgraceful outcome of the election there. Half of the population of Zimbabwe has fled the country, and the remaining population largely depends on food aid in a country that was a powerhouse agricultural exporter prior to Mugabe’s disastrous reign. African leaders are disgraceful when it comes to the ongoing humanitarian disaster in Zimbabwe, but so to are western leaders who turn a blind eye to the country at each turn for the worse.

In a disgraceful passing of the buck, Tomaz Salomao, the head of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which organized Sunday’s summit, announced that Home Affairs should be “co-managed” by two ministers, one from MDC and one from ZANU-PF. This means that SADC approves of Mugabe’s party retaining control of all the security services — though hundreds of Zimbabweans have been killed by the army and police this year.

[From Zimbabwe Is on the Ropes - WSJ.com]

200811140757.jpg Lastly, yes inflation really did hit 11 million percent, up from 6,000% just a year ago.

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Read more on Hang Seng BK, Inflation, Investing in Zimbabwe at Wikinvest