1. The New York Times’ Gretchen Morgenson gets it right (seriously!) on this shameful GM ad. The ad is misleading and, given that many folks are refusing to buy a car from a company on government life-support, materially so. My bet is that if GM weren’t a government-controlled company, and if the Treasury hadn’t aided and abetted the campaign of deception (“We are encouraged that G.M. has repaid its debt well ahead of schedule….”), the FTC’s false advertising brigade would be all over this thing.
2. Greg Mankiw nicely explains how a VAT resembles a flat tax and could be attractive to conservatives if it were a replacement for — and not an addition to — the current income tax.
3. A New York Times editorial correctly observes that there’s a structural problem that prevents the bond ratings agencies from identifying weak debt securities. (Unfortunately, the Times doesn’t acknowledge that this problem makes it much more important for derivatives traders to be able to make bearish bets that send helpful signals.)
4. The Wall Street Journal reports on one of the coolest attractions in St. Louis and plaintiffs’ lawyers’ efforts to shut it down. Press on, City Museum!