Felix Salmon

Berkshire’s Welcome Downgrade

Well, that didn’t take long. I speculated yesterday that Berkshire Hathaway would be the next company to be downgraded from triple-A; I didn’t think that it would happen within a matter of hours. But Fitch went ahead and did the right thing:

Treasury: Still Going Nowhere

To lose one deputy treasury secretary might be considered a misfortune; to lose two — and both before they are even officially nominated, no less — looks suspciously like carelessness.

Don’t Watch CNBC

Jim Cramer was craven and highly apologetic on the Daily Show last night because he had no choice; he started off by throwing Rick Santelli under a bus, and almost never attempted to defend himself, preferring to go the mea culpa route. This is not new. Even at the top of the market, in May 2007, he was writing this:

Extra Credit, Thursday Edition

Why letting Lehman go did crush the financial markets: A great post from Sam Jones.

Wealth Destruction Datapoint of the Day

For further proof that the world has not lost 40% to 45% of its wealth in "little less than a year and a half", as Steve Schwarzman would have it, one need turn only to today’s news that US household wealth has declined by 20% peak-to-trough.

Hedge Fund Datapoint of the Day

This is how badly the hedge-fund universe is being shaken out these days: John Paulson lost 16% of his assets under management in the second half of 2008, and still managed to rise to 3rd place in the list of biggest hedge-fund managers, from fourth place at mid-year. Or, to look at it another way, $29 billion in funds under management was enough to garner him eighth place in January 2008, but the same number got him the bronze medal this year.

Blogonomics: RSS Redux

It’s been 17 months since I published my RSS manifesto, arguing strongly that everybody should serve up full RSS feeds, and nothing since then has changed my mind. But Seeking Alpha’s David Jackson leaves me a comment today, as a follow-up to another comment he posted yesterday, saying that RSS has basically been a failure, and asking "what will make APIs different".

Roquefort Math

We’re just ten short days away from R-Day — the day at which tariffs on imported Roquefort surge to 300%, and the incomparable French sheep’s-milk blue becomes, to all intents and purposes, unavailable in the USA. Liz Thorpe of Murray’s Cheese does the math, and explains how a product which wholesales for €5 per pound in Europe becomes a cheese retailing for something in the $60 range by the time it reaches American shores, thanks to this horrible tariff. Isn’t repealing this tariff a no-brainer for the food-friendly Obama administration? Why hasn’t it been done yet?

The GE Downgrade Arrives

Back in January, when I said it was high time that GE should lose its triple-A credit rating, GE’s stock was trading at a 12-year low of $12.55 a share. Yesterday, when S&P finally made the decision to downgrade the company, GE closed at $8.49, a further erosion of 32% in the share price. Meanwhile, the company’s bonds, which were trading at 326bp over Treasuries in January, have gapped out all the way to 674bp over now. This downgrade only serves to ratify what the market already knew; it was frankly necessary for S&P to preserve what sliver of credibility it still retains.