Marketplace Scratch Pad

Morning Reading

Scott Jagow Feb 18, 2010

Good morning. The story we reported last week about Goldman Sachs helping to hide Greece’s debt is really starting to blow up in Europe. That and more:

Angela Merkel smells “scandal” over Goldman and Greece (Bloomberg)

Merkel dwelled on Greece and Germany’s plans to cut its own budget deficit in a 30-minute policy speech today, as attention turns to Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s role in allowing the Greek government to hide the extent of its deficit.

Greece “falsified statistics for years,” Merkel told a party rally in Demmin, in her home state of Mecklenburg Northern-Pomerania. “It’s a scandal if it turned out that the same banks that brought us to the brink of the abyss helped Greece fake the statistics.”

It’s Greek to Goldman (The Nation)

The US comptroller of the currency estimates that Goldman Sachs has a derivative “credit exposure” that is a whopping 858 percent of its risk-based capital and that JPMorgan Chase is in second place at 290 percent. That statement calls into question the savvy of President Obama, who crowed just last week in defense of Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein and Jamie Dimon, his old Chicago buddy who heads JPMorgan Chase, “I know both those guys; they are very savvy businessmen.” Tell it to the Greeks.

Wall Street’s Bailout Hustle (Rolling Stone) Matt Taibbi is at it again…

Con artists have a word for the inability of their victims to accept that they’ve been scammed. They call it the “True Believer Syndrome.” That’s sort of where we are, in a state of nagging disbelief about the real problem on Wall Street. It isn’t so much that we have inadequate rules or incompetent regulators, although both of these things are certainly true. The real problem is that it doesn’t matter what regulations are in place if the people running the economy are rip-off artists.

Obama goes nuclear, in a good way (Real Clear Markets)

Hence, Mr. Obama is turning his attention not to creating just any job, but to creating jobs for union members. Making a virtue of necessity, he is taking energy policy in a direction that unions, centrists, and conservatives have advocated, for good reasons, and one that some environmentalist allies of the Democratic Party have resisted…

Whatever the reason, all of us should be grateful that Mr. Obama is supporting nuclear power, a less-expensive means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and one that already provides 20% of America ‘s electricity.

GM’s $5,000 minivan a hit in China (NPR)

Sounds great. But there are a few drawbacks by American standards. Let’s start with the Sunshine’s little three-cylinder engine.

“There are frankly some lawn tractors that have more horsepower than that,” says Michael Robinet, an auto industry analyst with CSM Worldwide.

Robinet agreed to talk about the Sunshine after GM declined. He thinks trying to sell it in the United States would be crazy. He calls the Sunshine “a pumpkin on wheels.” It has a top speed of about 80 miles an hour.

The bank felons need to be prosecuted (PBS NewsHour)

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