GM Takes Stock Public
In one of the largest initial public offerings in history, American car manufacturer General Motors offered over 450 million shares to the public on Nov. 18. The stocks were initially offered at $33 a piece, but rose to a peak of $35.99, and ended the day at $34.19. The offering captured $23.1 billion for the company.
The sale helped recoup the government’s $50 billion bailout of GM. Government ownership of the company went from 61 percent to 26 percent after the public offering. To break even, the remaining 500 million shares held by the government would need to be sold at $53 each.
The Obama administration defends the bailout; and a recent study estimates that it saved not just the company but over 1.1 million jobs in businesses connected to the automotive industry.
Ireland Gets IMF/EU Bailout,
Government to Be Dissolved
Due to the country’s worsening finances, Ireland requested and received a $100 billion bailout package from the International Monetary Fund and European Union. Current Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen announced on Nov. 22 that he would step down once the financial packages and new budgets are in place in December. The move follows calls for him to step down from his party’s coalition partner and the opposition.
Fellow European Union member Greece once faced a similar financial situation. After it received a bailout from the IMF and EU, their Prime Minister lost much of his popularity; but his party managed to remain in power. Ireland has been in a recession for the past three years.
Pope Says Condoms Might Be Step in Right Direction
In a recently-published book, Pope Benedict XVI suggested condom use was a step toward moral responsibility, particularly for male prostitutes. The comments were published in the “Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times,” released on Nov. 24.
“There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility,” Benedict said in an English translation of the book. The church “of course does not regard it as a real or moral solution.”
In a prior interview, the Pope suggested that using condoms in Africa doesn’t help control HIV. “On the contrary, it increases the problem,” he said. And he didn’t address condom use in a monogamous married relationship if one partner has HIV and the other doesn’t, a suggested scenario for which the Catholic Church’s policy should change. Benedict reiterated the Church’s position that the only sure way to stop HIV is abstinence and marital fidelity.
Four Loko Scrutinized by FDA, Banned by States
Spurred by several high-profile incidents, the Food and Drug Administration moved to end the sale of caffeinated alcoholic beverages. Several states including New York and Massachusetts banned the most popular, Four Loko, outright, and so did a number of college campuses.