Bethany McLean’s Weekend Reading List: the SEC, Tesla, and California’s Housing Crisis

Corruption, lobbying, corporate malfeasance, and frauds: a weekly unconventional selection of must-read articles by investigative journalist Bethany McLean. 

 

One of my ongoing obsessions is the relationship between government, business, and the citizenry: is it government’s role to keep bad business in check? Should the government use taxpayer dollars to subsidize corporate America? And who’s to blame when one of life’s most basic needsshelteris increasingly unaffordable?

 

My first pick this week is a story from Reuters about how the Securities and Exchange Commission, which in an ideal world would catch the frauds that bilk investors of their savings (wouldn’t that be nice?), is instead focusing its energies on making life easier for corporate America. 

 

 

My second pick is a great piece of digging by the Wall Street Journal‘s Jimmy Vielkind, who discovered that New York State had quietly written down the value of its investments in Tesla’s Buffalo factory, as well as other high tech projects, by more than $1 billion.

 

 

Really, truly, I’m not trying to pick on Elon Musk, but I wonder if the people that take taxpayer money with a promise to supply jobs in areas that desperately need them, as Musk did, feel any remorse when things don’t work out as promised?

 

I have some personal history with this, which is the failure, decades ago, of a much-hyped chopsticks plant in my hometown of Hibbing, Minnesota. You might ask why a primarily Scandinavian and Italian (back then) mining town thought chopsticks were the future, but then again, you might also ask why Musk chose to make car stuff in Nevada and solar stuff in Buffalo.

 

Anyway. Last but not least: Did government play a role in creating California’s housing crisis, and can government fix it?  (H/T Barry Ritholtz)

 

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