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ChiefOfficers.Net

The USA lumps all kinds of insolvency proceedings under the single heading of "bankruptcy" and so its headline figures are misleading. But behind the headline figure - that there was a near-30% increase in 2009 as against 2008 - there are some trends that indicate a deep malaise in the US economy - and signs that there's still a long way to go before bad debt has returned to actuarially acceptable levels.

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It was a car that generated lust or nausea: born as the road-going equivalent of a military vehicle, Hummer wanted to be the Jeep of the 21st Century. It was a car that, had the idea arisen today, would never have been born. And with its Tonka-toy styling, its ridiculous demand for real-estate in the middle of a busy road and a fuel consumption that only oil-rich show-offs could realistically afford, there is little doubt that it was doomed.

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There used to be a game to make up versions of names for airlines and car manufacturers. For Lotus, it was said that the name was an acronym for "Lots of trouble, usually serious". Not any more - and the little factory in Norfolk remains a hotbed of innovation. Amongst its projects is serious work on hybrids.

Stuff a Prius - how about a hybrid Evora?

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Is it big brother or logical safety? Toyota is to fit a "brake over-ride" system to all new models starting with the 2011 model year. What will it do?

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It's been a game of brinkmanship with one of the world's best brands almost disappearing. But at last an deal has been done that allows the Swedish government to guarantee a loan that will support the purchase of SAAB from GM by Spyker of the Netherlands.

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Spyker and GM have said little about the terms of the deal which, at last, rescued SAAB from imminent closure. But pieces of information are coming together.

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The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has obtained the suspension by the Companies Auditors and Liquidators Disciplinary Board of Dean Royston McVeigh for 18 months, preventing him acting as liquidator or voluntary administrator.

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Australian law firm Clayton Utz has, this morning, announced that 14 partners have resigned. They will join a newly established office of London-based giant Allen & Overy.

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It's beginning to look as if Toyota simply had no disaster plan. It took a year to decide that the sticky pedal was a real problem, and only last week they said the Prius wasn't affected. It is now. And the sharks are circling as a litigation bandwagon starts to roll. But not all faults are attributable to cars.

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As GM continued its shutdown of SAAB, Genii Capital said that that was the final straw and pulled out of discussions. That was yesterday morning in Europe. By yesterday morning in the USA, GM had announced it had, at last done a deal to sell what's left of SAAB. It would, the company said, go to Spyker after all, and the shutdown would be suspended immediately.

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