Marketplace Scratch Pad

Morning Reading

Scott Jagow Aug 11, 2009

Now we know what that weird 230 electrical socket thing was. 230 mpg is what GM says the Chevy Volt might get for city driving. That’s more than four times what the Prius gets. Of course, the Volt’s price will be electrifying also.

$40,000. From GM’s press release:

The Volt, which is scheduled to start production in late 2010 as a 2011 model, is expected to travel up to 40 miles on electricity from a single battery charge and be able to extend its overall range to more than 300 miles with its flex fuel-powered engine-generator.

“From the data we’ve seen, many Chevy Volt drivers may be able to be in pure electric mode on a daily basis without having to use any gas,” said GM Chief Executive Officer Fritz Henderson…

“The 230 city mpg number is a great indication of the capabilities of the Volt’s electric propulsion system and its ability to displace gasoline,” said Frank Weber, global vehicle line executive for the Volt.

In the New York Post, John Crudele points out that President Obama may have made money for stock traders somewhere by jumping the gun on jobs numbers. The monthly jobs report is supposed to stay secret until Friday morning at 8:30 a.m. ET.

But at a speech Thursday night, Obama made the statement: “We’re losing jobs at half the rate we were at the beginning of the year.” More from Crudele:

Since investors are trying to make a profit by trading securities at any time somewhere in the world, having knowledge of this very important economic statistic could be used for vast personal profit.

The 247,000 jobs that were later reported to have disappeared in July were, indeed, less than half the number being lost earlier this year…

Another curious thing happened before the employment report was made public.

Sometime before late afternoon Thursday, Goldman Sachs suddenly broke with the Wall Street pack that was predicting a loss of 320,000 or so jobs in July.

A Goldman economist decided that the job losses would be 250,000 — which, of course, is suspiciously close to the actual number. His previous guess was 300,000.

At Slate, former New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer slams the Wall Street Journal for an editorial that said this:

Yesterday’s $15 million settlement between the Securities and Exchange Commission and former AIG CEO Hank Greenberg offers a healthy perspective on Mr. Spitzer’s second most embarrassing case. In April of 2005, the former New York Attorney General filed fraud charges in the TV court of George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week,” but he never filed them in criminal court.

More than four years later, the federal government has decided that it cannot even make a civil case for fraud against Mr. Greenberg, never mind a criminal one…

AIG shareholders appear to have been hurt far more by the company’s 2005 Spitzer-driven earnings restatement than by Mr. Greenberg’s alleged failures as the “control person” in charge when AIG booked improper items.

Here’s Spitzer’s response:

Excuse me? Weren’t Bernie Madoff’s investors better off before he was forced to “restate” income as well? Of course they were! That is the nature of fraud that benefits investors! So is it better to leave the fraud undetected and unprosecuted? If one buys the Wall Street Journal’s logic, integrity in the marketplace is merely a utilitarian calculus: If remedying the fraud costs shareholders more than the fraud generated in value, then the fraud was permissible and even desirable…

I have the troubling sense that now that we are back from the brink of the financial precipice, we are reverting to the status quo ante. When a major newspaper can print such an editorial, it makes one wonder whether we have learned anything at all.

On a lighter note, NPR continues its series on affordable outings, this time replacing a trip to Fenway Park with a trip to a minor league game. I enjoyed the piece because I’ve always been a big fan of minor league ball:

OK, so it’s not Cheryl Crow singing that anthem. And if you open your eyes, there’s no Green Monster, no Dice-K and no Big Papi.

But it is “game on” with some 10,000 die-hard Sox fans.

“This is our Fenway, right here,” says Cathy Gorman of McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, R.I. “Rock on McCoy Stadium!”

Welcome to the Minor Leagues. It’s a Sox-Yankees showdown.

That is, the Yankees’ farm team from Scranton, Pa., versus the Paw Sox from Pawtucket.

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