Marketplace Scratch Pad

Morning Reading

Scott Jagow Mar 25, 2010

Good morning. To start the day, let’s talk about the merits of a cash economy, the drawbacks of too much corporate cash, and the vultures — I mean, plantiffs — that are circling Toyota.

Credit is dead. Long Live Cash! (Newsweek)

Texas electricity provider First Choice Power in January launched a prepaid service called Control First. “In Texas, there are about a million households who have slim credit or no credit at all,” says company president Brian Hayduk. Without requiring a deposit or credit, customers are permitted to prepurchase a set amount of electricity–say $100 per month. The company installs a smart meter that lets people know how much they’ve used–which spurs customers to manage their energy use more intelligently.

The rise of the cash economy has made businesses hesitant to make the type of capital expenditures they used to fund with debt–big-ticket items like factories, expensive equipment, and new buildings.

Speaking of cash, big companies are bathing in it (Los Angeles Times)

“The good news for America now is that companies are very competitive, flush with cash and ready to expand,” said Joseph Carson, an economist at money management firm AllianceBernstein in New York.

But others worry that the business giants’ clout has increased significantly at the expense of workers — the millions in the ranks of the jobless as well as those who remain employed but must work harder than ever.

The one provision that could sink financial reform (The New Republic) Couldn’t agree more…

Whenever an agency doesn’t do its job in Washington, the temptation is to create still another agency to oversee it. That was the proposed solution for the intelligence failures of the Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation. And now it’s Washington’s solution to the failures of the Federal Reserve. But this council wouldn’t address the principal reasons for the failure of the Fed from 1997 or so through 2007, when it pressed for further financial deregulation and ignored or downplayed the warning signs of the dot-com and housing bubbles. We know what happened next.

Lawyers jostle to lead the charge against Toyota (NPR)

There are so many lawsuits, in fact, that a panel of federal judges in San Diego is meeting Thursday to sort out the timing, location and logistics of the legal battle.

The suits each claim to be filed on behalf of at least 6 million drivers. Some say Toyota knew about the sudden acceleration problems but failed to tell consumers. Others say Toyota’s solution ignores the real problem — flawed electronics. Whatever the reason, owners all claim the value of their cars has plummeted since last fall’s recall, and they want full refunds.

GM’s unveils a networked mini-car for the city streets

As drivers await the arrival of General Motors’s much-anticipated Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid car later this year, GM unveiled an electric vehicle of an entirely different stripe on Wednesday at the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai. The company’s Electric Networked Vehicle (EN-V) is a mini electric vehicle built for two, unless you are using it to go shopping, in which case you might have room for yourself and a bag of groceries.

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