Felix Salmon

Where’s the pessimism?

At last year’s Milken Global Conference, the mood was one of pervasive worry and uncertainty. This year, I had some hope that the assorted plutocrats would evince some measure of contrition in the wake of their precious “financial innovation” being revealed to have been the proximate cause of the largest financial and economic crisis in living memory.

How can community lenders survive?

At a panel this morning on community development finance, there was lots of talk about capital constraints and liquidity constraints and in general the way in which the funding for community development lending has completely dried up, despite the fact that such lending has massively outperformed most of the credit product out there.

Ponta Negra crashes

Here is a blog entry I wrote on March 18 but never published. John Hempton was chasing a Ponzi scheme called Ponta Negra, but the fund’s lawyers forced him to take down his entries and I thought it was worth doing some real reporting before flying into the teeth of those selfsame lawyers. I talked to the marketer for Ponta Negra, Jared Toren, who promised to fly up to New York from Texas to show me the fund’s audited accounts.

The importance of narrative

Jim Ledbetter gets high-minded in his Portfolio obit:

If Lipman could have collected a dollar for each time one of her staff members talked about the importance of “narrative,” she probably would have collected more than the magazine got in subscription revenues. Narrative is a lovely and often helpful literary tool, but the fact that it works in Condé Nast magazines like Vanity Fair and The New Yorker does not mean narrative is what the business journalism audience wants.

Monday links get laid off

Debt revamps hindered by credit default swaps: The Deal weighs in.

Nostalgia, Entitlement and Murdoch’s ‘Journal’: Keeping the decline of the leder in perspective.

Orszag on Geithner

From Ryan Lizza’s long article about Peter Orszag in the New Yorker, here Orszag is talking to Jon Stewart in the Daily Show green room:

Monetizing antiquities (without selling them)

The Milken discussion this afternoon on leveraging developing countries’ antiquities resources didn’t quite live up to the promise of its title (“Preserving the Past to Build the Future: Antiquities as an Economic Development Resource for Emerging Nations”) but was very interesting all the same. It was based on a publication full of provocative ideas about how countries can take advantage of the antiquities market and the world of museums, rather than fighting them the whole time.

Picking on Geithner

The nut graf of the NYT’s massive Geithner article today is classic Gretchen Morgenson:

When countries go to zero

I just had coffee with Mohamed El-Erian, who pointed out to me that he didn’t actually push the PPIP plan, as I said he did. He just said that the government needed a plan to deal with toxic assets, and that some plans made a lot more sense than others.