Blaming the bean counters

A “small but powerful” group of “supply-siders” blames the “credit market meltdown” on an “obscure accounting rule,” says Daniel Gross in Slate. The rule, “mark-to-market,” is a “crucial” transparency requirement that companies disclose the value of the assets they hold and trade. This is “a simple affair” for mutual funds, but a much greater challenge for institutions that hold esoteric mortgage-backed bonds and other assets for which there isn’t an “active market” to determine value. Calls to assign these assets an “imaginary happy value” until they are worth more would be more credible, though, if the proponents had complained when the then-“clearly inflated” assets were making them rich.

Saving at the pump

Gas prices are “hitting record highs nearly every day,” and should hit $4 a gallon this summer, says Marshall Loeb in MarketWatch. But don’t let those “$80 fill-ups” ruin your “warm, sunny days.” It may “sound like a no-brainer” but the first way to save money at the pump is to find the cheapest gas. Web sites like GasBuddy and GasPriceWatch will show prices at local stations, and gas prices are lowest when traffic is lightest, like “before dawn or late at night.” Make sure the price at the pump matches the station sign and that the pump “starts at the $0 mark.” And keep your car “in healthy shape,” with properly inflated tires.