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Our Energy Future

|Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014

The first day of September was one strange morning in the oil and gasoline futures market. Prices of both commodities fell dramatically, and gasoline prices were in collapse from the previous day’s prices; when you post pricing every day, you really notice it when prices move big. But something really odd happened that morning: I posted the prices around 5:30 a.m., and 30 minutes later half the previous day’s price declines were nearly wiped out.

Missing the Obvious

|Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014

During the election cycle of 1980, former Fort Worth Pontiac Honda dealer Bill McDavid was standing on the showroom floor watching the evening news with a group of his salesmen, me included. McDavid, a Texas original, had an expansive, boisterous and oversized personality — not a caricature of a Texan, but the real thing. More to the point, his personality just drew you in; and if Bill liked you then you could do no wrong, but if he didn’t you might as well move someplace else. He was, in a word, great.

The Crisis, Part 2

Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014

World War II lives in our memory even today, 70 years later. After all, that was the last major war our country fought in which we met all of our political, objectives. Yet, while the conflict gave us hundreds of American heroes, those who started creating the Arsenal of Democracy 18 months before Pearl Harbor still go unrecognized.

The Crisis

Saturday, Nov. 01, 2014

"By 1937 the Sloan Knudsen formula had saved GM. In three years it would have to save the world." — Arthur Herman, Freedom’s Forge

Car Loans: 7 Years Later

|Friday, Oct. 24, 2014

This column, which first ran in June of 2007, has been shortened for length.

The End of Everything

|Friday, Oct. 17, 2014

There it was: Adam Jonas, head of global auto research for Morgan Stanley, predicting the end of his own and other auto analysts’ careers. The age of driverless cars is at hand, he prophesied at Business Insider, and the end of car ownership is equally close. Jonas sees this as the coming great disruption to the auto industry, and he says it’s headed our way faster than anyone could imagine.

People on the Move, Part 2

Friday, Oct. 10, 2014

To the average person in our major cities, who had traveled mainly by horse-drawn carriage or trolley, the new electric rail cars and interurban lines must have seemed like the most exciting way in which modern technology would change the nation. The other modern technological improvement in personal transportation, however, had been the automobile; and its introduction and advancement happened concurrently with that of electric rail.

People on the Move

|Friday, Oct. 03, 2014

When Americans discuss financial depressions, we almost always focus on the 1930s. That’s because few understand just how bad some of the others before what we call The Great Depression had been or what they did to the national economy. One of the worst was the Panic of 1893. While we aren’t completely sure what the true unemployment rate was in that period, most historians agree that the United States had 4 percent unemployment in 1890; but, in the first full year of the Panic of 1893, some have estimated that close to 20 percent of all Americans were unemployed.

It’s Not Just GM

|Friday, Sep. 26, 2014

In its September 18 issue, Fortune magazine published a Geoff Colvin column under the title, “Mary Barra’s (unexpected) Opportunity.” In it Colvin laid out the GM faulty ignition case, then suggested that this was likely a big enough disaster that Barra could use it to accomplish what no GM CEO before her ever had — rehabilitate the corporate culture of America’s largest car company.

The Dog Days of Autumn

Friday, Sep. 19, 2014

Sometimes the news out of the automobile industry seems slow, if not downright nonexistent. Failing that, sometimes it’s just not very dramatic. True, Sergio Marchionne, head of Fiat Chrysler, canned the head of Ferrari recently and took over the top spot himself at the Italian sports car manufacturer; but for the most part that move caused barely a ripple in the industry.