Marketplace Scratch Pad

Morning Reading

Scott Jagow Feb 16, 2010

Good morning. Hope you had a good weekend. A few things to start the week: Utah considers eliminating the high school senior year? Plus, why voters and economics don’t mix. And in what could be a significant development, the US government could be close to creating fuel from algae:

Jet fuel made from algae (The Guardian)

The brains trust of the Pentagon says it is just months away from producing a jet fuel from algae for the same cost as its fossil-fuel equivalent.

The claim, which comes from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) that helped to develop the internet and satellite navigation systems, has taken industry insiders by surprise. A cheap, low-carbon fuel would not only help the US military, the nation’s single largest consumer of energy, to wean itself off its oil addiction, but would also hold the promise of low-carbon driving and flying for all.

Utah considers eliminating the senior year of high school (Raw Story)

In an effort to bridge a $700 million budget shortfall, Republican state Sen. Chris Buttars has put forth a plan to eliminate 12th grade in high school, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Facing a wealth of criticism from parents, teachers and students alike, Buttars defended a scaled down version of the idea wherein students simply had the option to exit before their final year, claiming the proposal could save the state about $60 million.

How to watch the banks (New York Times) Deep thoughts from Hank Paulson:

…the most recent proposal by the Obama administration — to bar big banks from trading driven by other than customer-related activity — would not have prevented the collapse of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers, American International Group, Washington Mutual, Wachovia or other institutions whose failure contributed to the crisis. Rather than dictating a set of rules that will become out of date as the markets evolve, policy makers should devise legislation that ensures that regulators have the authority to tackle the issue of size and all potential systemic risks.

The populism problem (The New Yorker)

The anger is understandable, and voters are under no obligation to be consistent. But that doesn’t make the new populism any less of a challenge politically, since, at the moment, voters will find something wrong whatever is done: if Democrats pass a stimulus package, they’ll be lambasted for increasing the deficit; if they don’t pass a stimulus, they’ll be attacked for not caring about jobs.

Obama’s love of labor makes for one unholy union (Bloomberg)

President Barack Obama’s union with labor unions has become a marriage made in hell. If he wants to save his presidency, and his party, he should seek a divorce.

Is taxpayer money behind profits at Goldman Sachs? (PBS NewsHour) In case you missed part 2 of Paul Solman’s series:

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