Felix Salmon

Answers to Four Questions About Financial Journalism

Will Ortel, a journalism student at the College of Idaho in Caldwell, Idaho, sent me a few questions about financial literacy for a project he’s doing. They’re good questions, so I’m blogging the answers:

Why Healthy Banks Shouldn’t Repay TARP Funds

I got an interesting response from one reader to my post on whether healthy banks should be able to give back TARP funds. Here it is, with permission; the short version is basically "no".

OpenTable, Closed Minds

I’m a huge fan of OpenTable, and I’ve always imagined that restaurants are, too. They don’t need to spend hours on the phone telling people what’s free and what’s not, special instructions don’t get garbled, and it’s very easy to cross-reference the diner to previous visits. But apparently Raoul’s didn’t get the memo:

Why Big Banks Should be Smaller

James Kwak wants to make US financial institutions smaller:

There are a few main things that made companies like AIG and Citigroup systematically important. One was interconnectedness: they did business with lots of counterparties. One was complexity: when push came to shove, the regulators were not able to assess the potential damage a failure could cause, and therefore erred on the side of bailing them out. But the big one was size, and this is why we call it Too Big To Fail. The companies in question were so big, and had so many liabilities, that they could cause a lot of damage if they suddenly defaulted on those liabilities…
Size can definitely go away, simply by setting a cap on the volume of assets any institution is allowed to hold (and doing something about off-balance sheet entities).

Great Moments in Political Rhetoric: Hannan vs Brown

From the European parliament, of all places:

(Via MAI, although I’m late to this, it’s been viewed almost 2 million times on YouTube already.)

One Easy CDS Fix

I’ve had my share of disagreements with Arnold Kling on the subject of credit default swaps in the past, but he has a good idea today:

Why is the NYT Breaking the Web?

Websites get old, and need to be redesigned occasionally. That we understand. But the first rule of designing a website is that you make sure you can redesign it without breaking all the incoming links. And the first rule of redesigning a website is don’t break all the incoming links.

Extra Credit, Sunday Edition

My Manhattan Project: The first-person story of Mike Osinski, whose software fuelled the mortgage-securitization boom.

How the CDS Market is Going to Improve

A Credit Trader has a great post on what he calls "risky annuity risk", an artifact of the CDS market which will go away when all credit default swaps start trading on a fixed coupon. If you like to geek out with the arcana of the CDS market, you’ll love this.