Marketplace Scratch Pad

Morning Reading

Scott Jagow Aug 18, 2009

Wall Street’s gained some ground in the early going, but everyone’s talking about yesterday’s dip in the market. What does it mean, if anything?

A couple of takes. First from The New York Post:

The main problem remains that our consumers, like our government, remain horribly over-extended. We can’t pay for the things we already bought — much less buy more.

Washington alone will probably be $1.2 trillion in debt this fiscal year, and it will need to continue to borrow money heavily from people who aren’t necessarily friends who have America’s best interests in mind.

For certain, there will be more stock rallies until the market’s dullness ends. And this week is one of those options expiration periods, when stock prices tend to rise.

That makes yesterday’s decline scarier.

On the other hand, a Forbes column takes this viewpoint:

The way we see it, those who were pessimistic about stocks and the economy early this year are going through the classic five stages of grief. First, they denied a recovery was going to happen anytime soon. Then they lashed out with anger at those who spotted signs of the recovery. Now, they are bargaining, admitting the existence of the recovery that they did not see coming, but belittling it. Next, as things keep moving up, we can expect them to get depressed. We don’t expect acceptance to fully set in until late next year.

Economist’s View looks at the latest health care developments through a stock market lens. Specifically, what do investors think of the co-op idea versus a public option?

President Obama may have harsh words for the insurance companies. But those are not the words investors in these companies are paying attention to. They are paying attention to whether President Obama will sign a bill with vague “co-ops” or demand a public option. And the reaction by these investors bodes poorly for “co-ops” fulfilling their role as a serious competitive alternative to private insurance companies.

The PBS NewsHour delves more into the co-op idea:

GWEN IFILL: But how do you make a model like that work? Or do we know whether a model like that can work on a national scale?

SUSAN DENTZER (editor, Health Affairs): Well, this is the big question, because a lot of these things have come about over time. Group Health has been around since 1947, so how you jump-start something that doesn’t exist today becomes a really large question.

The other model is really to strip away the health care piece and talk about an insurance co-op. And this gets more along the lines of — many of our viewers will know mutual insurance companies, which were owned by policyholders.

It would be that same kind of model, where, in essence, the policy owners would own the policy. It wouldn’t have to pay a separate higher rate of return to shareholders or investors and it might — and would be very strictly regulated and, therefore, potentially, cost a lot less than private insurance.

Finally, there seems to be a national debate about this squirrel. A couple sent the photo below into National Geographic and the magazine published it with this caption:

My husband and I were exploring Lake Minnewanka in Banff National Park, Canada, when we stopped for a timed picture of the two of us. We had our camera set up on some rocks and were getting ready to take the picture when this curious little ground squirrel appeared, became intrigued with the sound of the focusing camera and popped right into our shot! A once in a lifetime moment! We were laughing about this little guy for days!

It’s just incredible that the squirrel is perfectly in the center of the photo, looking at the camera and in focus, while the couple is out of focus in the background and in perfect position, too. Apparently, this squirrel is roaming the world, looking for pictures to pop into:

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