Felix Salmon

The AIG Life Insurance Numbers

March 12, 2009

The document itself is dated February 26, and Andrew Ross Sorkin’s column on it came out on March 3, under the headline "The Compelling Case for Saving A.I.G., by A.I.G." He begins:

Felix Moving

March 11, 2009

As of April 1; Jeff has the story.

I’ll do my best to answer any questions you might have, but nothing much should change about the blog bar the URL, and in no way should this reflect badly on Portfolio.com, which has been an absolutely wonderful home to me for the past two years and which I’m genuinely sad to be leaving. Some things, however, are just too exciting to resist. More anon.

Extra Credit, Wednesday Edition

March 11, 2009

How the USSR gave us Wall Street’s quant craze: If the cold war hadn’t ended, the quants would still be doing physics.

Bank Funding Datapoint of the Day

March 11, 2009

Bloomberg reports:

Contracts on the Markit iTraxx Financial index of credit-default swaps linked to the senior debt of 25 banks and insurers were more expensive today than the Markit iTraxx Europe corporate index. That hasn’t happened since Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. went bankrupt in September and, before that, JPMorgan’s takeover of Bear Stearns, according to BNP Paribas. It reflects “systemic stress” in the financial system.

Mark-to-Market Datapoint of the Day

March 11, 2009

David Reilly crunches the numbers:

Of the $8.46 trillion in assets held by the 12 largest banks in the KBW Bank Index, only 29 percent is marked to market prices, according to my analysis of company data. General Electric Co., meanwhile, said last week that just 2 percent of assets were marked to market at its General Electric Capital Corp. subsidiary, which is similar in size to the sixth-biggest U.S. bank.

Understatement of the Day

March 11, 2009

From Paul Kedrosky:

It does not seem to be good if you are a Luxembourg-based Icelandic banker used to selling swiss franc denominated mortgages to hungarian farmers.

Blogonomics: APIs

March 11, 2009

Jeff Jarvis takes note of a very important development among some of the biggest and most successful news websites in the world: they’re publishing APIs.

Adventures in Foreign Exchange, Booze Edition

March 11, 2009

I’m back from England, which is clearly a country where the populace is highly aware of international exchange rates. The pound has imploded of late, which is why you see ads like this at Heathrow’s Duty Free shop ("At current exchange rates, it pays to buy before you fly"):

Steve Schwarzman’s Exaggerated Numbers

March 11, 2009

There have been some scary figures about the destruction of global wealth being bandied about in the past couple of days. First the Asian Development Bank put out a report by Claudio Loser along with an associated press release headlined "Global Financial Market Losses Reach $50 Trillion, Says Study". And then Steve Schwarzman said that "between 40 and 45 percent of the world’s wealth has been destroyed in little less than a year and a half".