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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

December 29, 2011 at 10:00 AM

Looking back: Green energy scandal, market stability

Continuing a look at readers who weren’t satisfied with Friday’s poll on the stories of 2011 that will matter the most going forward. “cdbtx928” wrote: “Climate Change Scandal, or the incestuous ‘Green Energy’ companies — Solyndra just being the tip of the Iceberg.” The commenter added, “How about one of the most humorous… Jeffrey Immelt the head of GE.. yeah the same Jeffrey Immelt that Obama appointed or anointed to head his commission on Job Creation — announcing that he’s closing the 115-year-old GE X-ray division in Wisconsin and moving it to China… Of course.. that’s the same GE that paid 0 in taxes last year..”

(General Electric spokesman Gary Sheffer says, “Our X-ray move to China involves the transfer of four executives. The rest of the business stays in the U.S. He also stated that since 2009, GE has added more than 12,000 manufacturing jobs in the U.S. “We are in the midst of refurbishing or building 16 new factories. For example, yesterday we announced a new manufacturing plant in Pennsylvania.” And, “We paid $1 billion in taxes in the U.S. for 2010, including federal income taxes.)

You’re onto something in that the issue of climate change has completely disappeared from the American consciousness, even as human-caused climate change continues to worsen. It will carry enormous economic, as well as social and environmental, costs — and they won’t just affect poor people in the Third World. Solyndra, which took government loan guarantees and went bankrupt, can be seen as a boondoggle or the kind of alternative-energy bets that must be made if we’re going to move beyond fossil fuels. Some of those bets naturally will fail to pan out.

Forbes reports that the fuel-cell sector continues to move ahead with government support even after the Solyndra collapse. But without a carbon tax or cap-and-trade system, along with the removal of corporate welfare for the fossil-fuels sector, the market won’t lead this desperately needed change. Meanwhile, China continues its efforts to dominate renewable energy.

“Don’t Trust Them” wrote: “I would think the most important ‘business story’ would be the stability of our markets which did not have 3000 to 4000 point drops like in 08/09. Our market being stable effects most Americans retirement and investments.” Amen. The drivers behind the “flash crash” continue to be in place and lack oversight. The big playerz benefit while average 401(k)-holders are along for the ride, which can suddenly go badly wrong.

And Don’t Miss: Will China outsmart the U.S.? || NY Times

Today’s Econ Haiku:

Apartments galore

Oops, overbuilding ahead

Real-estate lemmings

Comments | More in Energy, Stock market


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