Marketplace Scratch Pad

Morning Reading

Scott Jagow Feb 22, 2010

Morning. Hope you had a good weekend. A few things to start the week: A parable of one nation in ruin (guess who??), a banker says bankers need a moral compass, and Tim Geithner tries to turn on the charm…

Bailout anger undermines Geithner (Wall Street Journal)

To boost his image, Mr. Geithner is waging a charm offensive. On Friday, he toured a supermarket in Philadelphia with first lady Michelle Obama to showcase efforts to reduce childhood obesity, an unusual event for a Treasury secretary. He demonstrated how a Treasury program offering tax credits in low-income communities can bring in businesses selling more nutritious food.

Mr. Geithner says even his wife has urged him to show more emotion in confronting the banks. His response to her: Doing so risks politicizing the Treasury.

Citi warns of withdrawal gate (Future of Capitalism) Citi gives an explanation for this, but even so, it doesn’t inspire confidence in the bank, and regardless, does Citi realize it’s not their money?

Seen on a recent Citibank statement: “Effective April 1, 2010, we reserve the right to require (7) days advance notice before permitting a withdrawal from all checking accounts. While we do not currently exercise this right and have not exercised it in the past, we are required by law to notify you of this change.”

Basically, it’s over: A parable of how one nation came to ruin (Slate)

How was Basicland to adjust to this brutal new reality? This problem so stumped Basicland’s politicians that they asked for advice from Benfranklin Leekwanyou Vokker, an old man who was considered so virtuous and wise that he was often called the “Good Father.” Such consultations were rare. Politicians usually ignored the Good Father because he made no campaign contributions.

Millions of unemployed face years without jobs (New York Times)

Every downturn pushes some people out of the middle class before the economy resumes expanding. Most recover. Many prosper. But some economists worry that this time could be different. An unusual constellation of forces — some embedded in the modern-day economy, others unique to this wrenching recession — might make it especially difficult for those out of work to find their way back to their middle-class lives.

The story the New York Times won’t touch (The Big Money)

This is a scandalous story, involving one of the world’s largest banks, a powerful federal judge, and two Mexican telecom giants. Under any other circumstances, the business section of the Times would be expected to cover it, as the Journal and Bloomberg have. Yet as of Saturday midday, I cannot find a single mention of any aspect of this case, anywhere in the physical New York Times, or on its Web site–not even a blog post or a wire story. Perhaps as the lawsuit moves on, the Times will be compelled to cover it. But for the moment, it certainly appears that Carlos Slim’s investment has bought the silence of one of the world’s most important newspapers.

Chairman of HSBC: Bankers need a moral compass (NPR)

“You can’t have sustained social and economic development without money, without commerce,” Greene says. “You need money to lubricate the commerce, to finance investment and all the rest of it. It’s an incredible effective servant if it’s allowed to operate in the right ways as a servant. It becomes very dangerous when it’s a master.”

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