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Mark's Market Blog

3-28-09: New Cars! Market Moves Up!

By Mark Lawrence

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The markets continue to move upwards. Spring, new Prez, Bernanke has declared an extra xmas this year for banks, that sort of thing. I figure the markets will continue to move upwards for a few more weeks before reality sets in. Reality being that we're in a recession, and it's still pretty ugly out there.

S&P 500, Sept 28 '08 to March 27 '09

Oil is nominally up, but that's not so much because the price of oil went up, it's more because the dollar went down. Only US bankers and Wall Street like Bernanke's extra xmas idea.

Rich Wagoner, the CEO of GM, has been asked to resign by Obama, and has agreed. Anyone who thinks GM is managed by their board of directors should think more carefully. Anyone who wonders why so many banks are suddenly announcing that they're paying back their TARP money, here's a major clue. Personally, I think Wagoner was doing a decent job and got blind sided by the economy, but I have to admit that if there were a public vote Wagoner would rank down there with Bush and Son of Sam.

Honda released the Insight to N.America on Friday. I drove one today. This is their answer to the Prius. It's a bit smaller, the gas mileage is not quite as good, and it costs a whole lot less: $20,000. The upscale version is $21,500. I was impressed, it's just a car. It's not exactly a dragster or anything, but you just drive it and it does pretty much just what you expect from a car, except every time you stop the motor turns off. When you let up on the brake the motor restarts, you don't notice it after about the 5th time. The last Prius I drove (9 years ago, 1st release) was quite quirky by comparison. When gas goes back up to $4 / gallon in three or four years, this is going to look like a great alternative.

Tata motors of India has announced their Nano. This car has a 624cc engine (each of my teenagers rides a motorcycle with a 650cc engine, and their bikes are nothing like blindingly fast). It has a top speed around 45 mph. It seats 4, or 11 if you're a close-knit family. The interesting part: it sells for $2000. Tata motors is making a big splash these days: they now own Jaguar and Land Rover, and are considered a candidate for buying Hummer. Anyway, if you were thinking you would buy a new Honda Insight to do your share to stop global warming, there's gonna be about 35,000,000 Indians running around in these things, so good luck. Tata is already investigating opening a factory in Eastern Europe and selling more of them there.

The Tata Nano

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