Looking at new plug-in hybrid tax credits

Hidden in the $700 billion “bailout” package is a brand new set of incentives intended to encourage the development of plug-in hybrid technology.  The program can potentially give more than double the incentive previously given to buyers of hybrids.  The law states that plug-in electric cars with at least a 4-kilowatt-hour battery pack will be eligible for a $2,500 credit.  The credit will increase with every kilowatt-hour of capacity with a cap of $7,500.  The program will last through 2015, and will phase out after 250,000 models are sold.  This low-risk program will only cost taxpayers less than $2 billion.  Nonetheless, we should take a look at how effective it will be at encouraging the diffusion of these cars into the U.S. auto fleet.

Continue reading


Palin Overstates Energy Reserves

At her first campaign appearance of her day on Wednesday the 29th, Governor Sarah Palin told the crowd that she helped break the stand-off between the state of Alaska and oil companies interested in developing a natural gas pipeline to the 48 contiguous US States. Taking a brief jab at recently convicted Republican Senator Ted Stevens, Palin claimed to have clashed with her party and to have played an instrumental role in the process.

According to the Governor, the pipeline would be crucial to ending our foreign oil dependency. This project, Mrs. Palin said, would allow all of America to benefit from Alaska’s vast natural gas reserves, which she estimated in her speech “several hundred trillion cubic feet”. The real picture is far more grim than that. Continue reading

Why Shortsellers Aren’t Villains

A ban expired today that had prohibited the shortselling of certain stocks in the financial sector. Unfortunately, it is common practice to villainize  those who short a struggling stock, and in this case to actually ban it. This mentality is so pervasive that Jim Cramer actually jumped on board on his popular show, Mad Money on CNBC. Jim Cramer is pretty popular around these parts for his preaching of solid fundamentals like diversification and his harsh criticism of the creation, packaging, and evaluating of subprime mortgages that led to the crisis, but on this issue at least, his position doesn’t make much sense.

Continue reading