Marketplace Scratch Pad

Morning Reading

Scott Jagow Mar 11, 2010

Good morning. Some of the things I’ve seen so far — Hollywood’s about to get into the derivatives game, the GMAC bailout is looking like a disaster and the House is saying no to pork for corporations:

House leaders ban earmarks to corporations (NPR)

Rep. David Obey (D-WI), chairman of the Appropriations panel said he’s killing off one of lawmakers’ most lucrative perks: corporate earmarks.

Obey said the panel will stop approving earmarks that lawmakers request on behalf of for-profit corporations.

“Earmarks to private entities present opportunities for corruption, and getting members in trouble,” says Ryan Alexander, of the advocacy group Taxpayers for Common Sense. “It’s not the best way to spend taxpayer money to have individual members of Congress direct money to private companies.”

Watchdog: GMAC bailout could cost taxpayers $6.3B (AP)

“Treasury missed many opportunities to improve accountability and protect taxpayer money,” panel chair Elizabeth Warren said in a conference call with reporters. She said Treasury didn’t make GMAC show how it would return the taxpayer money, or how the investment would increase credit to consumers.

“These decisions mean that Treasury is now struggling to deal with a GMAC that is not financially rehabilitated, Treasury has no exit strategy and taxpayers are not fully protected,” Warren said.

Investors can soon make bets on movie box office receipts (LA Times)

Welcome to Hollywood’s newest version of risky business: movie derivatives.

Two trading firms, one of them an established Wall Street player and the other a Midwest upstart, are each about to premiere a sophisticated new financial tool: a box-office futures exchange that would allow Hollywood studios and others to hedge against the box-office performance of movies, similar to the way farmers swap corn or wheat futures to protect themselves from crop failures.

Stimulus Funds Cluster in Cities, Bypass Latino Communities (PBS NewsHour)

Google Maps finally adds bike routes (Autopia)

“This new tool will open people’s eyes to the possibility and practicality of hopping on a bike and riding,” says Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists. “We know people want to ride more, we know it’s good for people and communities when they do ride more — this makes it possible. It is a game-changer, especially for those short trips that are the most polluting.”

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