Shorting…call me crazy, but

I have often stood mystified by the ways the financial industry has found to make money… some of which leave me breathless. Not to oversimplify, but do you often invest in the potential of your neighbor’s failure (with borrowed money, no less)?

Shorting has been suspended in 799 stocks because of our current crisis. I think it is time to make some ethical choices in our American communities about what we reinforce and what we avoid.

Rhode Island Wind Energy Agreement

Though details are somewhat sketchy, Cleantech reports that Deepwater Wind has been selected to develop Rhode Island’s first offshore wind project. Expected to cost over $1 billion and supply 15% of the electricity requirements of the state (1.3 million megawatt-hours), no time scales has been presented for the project.

In addition to the wind project, Deepwater has pledged to invest $1.5 billion to develop a regional manufacturing facility in Rhode Island, creating 800 green tech jobs in the process.

The Michalenka Plan

Our CPA, Henry Michalenka, has been helping households, individuals, and small businesses for thirty years. He’s honest, smart, and…from years of dealing with every financial entity on the planet…cynically funny.

Hank has an alternative plan to the Bush Administration bailout.

The Michalenka Plan will give the $700 B to American households (he figures it would be $10,000 to $15,000 per household). He will let the market decide what to do with the banks…which most likely means bankruptcy and reorganization. Stocks will further deteriorate….people will re-evaluate which investments (and people) are investment worthy…folks will buy back in to new companies at low P/Es.

The market will recover with money being invested in better companies with more responsible management.

P.S. About the credit crunch that so worries Mr. Paulson…don’t forget that retail banks still have significant good mortgages and accounts.

2008 EPA Report on the Environment

EPA today released the “2008 Report on the Environment: Highlights of National Trends” (2008 ROE HD), which provides the American people with an important resource for better understanding trends in our nation’s health and environment. The report is intended for a general audience and summarizes highlights of the more comprehensive “EPA’s 2008 Report on the Environment,” which was released in May, and provided the scientific and technical information. Together the two reports present national environmental trends and inform EPA’s strategic planning process with the best available, scientifically sound information.

EPA also launched a new Web site that allows the user to search the full technical report for specific trends in air, water, and land.

The 2008 ROE HD, ROE and searchable eROE: http://www.epa.gov/roe

Ben Bernanke…and America’s New Fund

Will America’s new $700 B fund take a bath?

Remember, housing prices are still falling….so it’s questionable whether this attempt at a resolution trust really has legs…..and we have little insight on where specifically the problems are with these illiquid bank assets. If the housing market stabilizes, will the Fed be able to sell much of this stuff at a reasonable price?…or is it so abstract that they’ll never find a buyer? Undoubtedly, both things are true…but in what proportion?

And think…. if you were in Congress, they are asking you to pass a bill in a few days with all of those basic financial questions unanswered? …based upon the notion ‘it’s too difficult to figure out right now, so let’s just underwrite it, and we’ll figure out what we’ve done later.’

So it looks like Ben Bernanke could either end up looking either like a genius or a failure…one thing is certain, he just jumped off the edge of a cliff with a very untested parachute.

EPA Nanotechnology Press Release

I received this EPA Press Release today…and noted the Duke University effort to “develop 32 tightly controlled and monitored ecosystems in Duke Forest in Durham, N.C. Known as “mesocosms,” these living laboratories provide areas where researchers can add nanoparticles and study the resulting interactions and effects on plants, fish, bacteria and other elements.”….a little ‘ecoengineering’ I assume.

Nanotechnology opens new worlds of possibilities for important computer, medical and environmental applications. To ensure nanotechnology is developed in a responsible manner, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and EPA awarded $38 million to establish two Centers for the Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology (CEINs). EPA contributed $5 million to the overall award, which is the largest award for nanotechnology research in the Agency’s history. The new centers will conduct research on the possible environmental, health and safety impacts of nanomaterials, using very different approaches than previous studies.

“Nanotechnology is an exciting field, with the promise of dramatic benefits for the environment,” said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. “Working together, EPA and NSF can improve our scientific understanding of nanoscale materials, develop the appropriate risk assessment framework, and make appropriate risk management decisions.”

The CEINs are an important addition to the National Nanotechnology Initiative, and will build on NSF’s Center for Biological and Environmental Technologies and EPA’s Science to Achieve Results (STAR) grants on nanotechnology. Led by the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and Duke University, the CEIN will study how nanomaterials interact with the environment and human health, resulting in better risk assessment and mitigation strategies to be used in the commercial development of nanotechnology. Each center will work as a network, connected to multiple research organizations, industry and government agencies, and will emphasize interdisciplinary research and education.

The UCLA CEIN, to be housed at the California NanoSystems Institute on the UCLA campus, will develop a predictive scientific model to study the environmental and health effects of different types of nanomaterials and human health faster than can be done by traditional animal toxicity testing. The model to be developed will consider: which nanomaterials are most likely to come into contact with the environment, which animals/plants can act as early sentinels of environmental changes, and high throughput methods to screen many chemicals quickly.

At Duke University‘s CEIN, researchers plan to study the potential environmental and biological effects on a wide range of nanomaterials – from natural to man-made, using a novel outdoor laboratory approach. In the coming year, the research team will develop 32 tightly controlled and monitored ecosystems in Duke Forest in Durham, N.C. Known as “mesocosms,” these living laboratories provide areas where researchers can add nanoparticles and study the resulting interactions and effects on plants, fish, bacteria and other elements.

More information on the awards: http://www.epa.gov/ncer/08CEIN