Felix Salmon

Goldman Sachs datapoint of the day

April 24, 2009

Tyler at Zero Hedge has been rooting around in NYSE statistics, and finds that Goldman Sachs traded over 1 billion shares for its own account last week — more than half the principal program trading from NYSE member firms, and more than 20% of all program trading on the exchange. My feeling is that this is a function of the decline of big liquid hedge funds with essentially unlimited funding capacity: Goldman is stepping in to take advantage of the lack of liquidity in the non-bank financial sector.

Why Chrysler needs to declare bankruptcy

April 24, 2009

If Chrysler does come to some kind of agreement with its banks — which is by no means a foregone conclusion — then why would it still want to declare bankrutpcy next week? The WSJ gets half of the story when it says that bankruptcy “would let Fiat pick and choose which operations it wants”, but then goes and confuses matters by saying that Fiat is interested in Chrysler “in its totality.”

Thursday links go hostile

April 24, 2009

Hostile takeovers: Why don’t they happen in the non-profit space? (Except in Singapore, weirdly.)

Bizarre web strategy of the day, Rolling Stone edition

April 24, 2009

I’m ashamed to admit that I never read all of the long and famous Matt Taibbi screed on the financial system which I linked to a month ago. So faced with a plane ride tomorrow, I thought I’d read it then. Except, inexplicably, Rolling Stone has decided to horribly truncate it, and in its place I find this:

A California default

April 24, 2009

Thomas Pindelski  asks:

Given that CA now has the lowest credit rating of all the states, does that make the high rates CA is offering in recent auctions something to avoid, owing to the risk of default, or something to cherish on the lines of ‘too big to fail’.

Innumeracy watch, Mark Penn edition

April 23, 2009

Mark Penn wrote a very silly column on blogging for the WSJ. He should have left it at that. But no, he had to go and try and defend himself. Which is how he ends up justifying this:

How special is the US triple-A?

April 23, 2009

A very good comment comes from dWj:

I had never heard until a year or two ago that U.S. Treasuries were even rated, though I have since read on occasion that it’s AAA, and have read the complaint that therefore other AAA rated bonds are rated as “as safe as treasuries”. (This is like saying that, because Einstein had a high school diploma, anyone with a high school diploma has been rated “as smart as Einstein”. The mechanism simply doesn’t make the distinction; it’s a bit of a leap to then say that the mechanism is asserting that the distinction doesn’t exist.)

Will there be a wave of municipal defaults?

April 23, 2009

So that went quite well, I thought — in any case I’ve pretty much guaranteed myself an invite back next year if there turns out to be a wave of municipal defaults between now and then.

Notes for a speech to the Regional Bond Dealers Association

April 23, 2009

Blogging will be light today and tomorrow, since I’m flying to and from the annual meeting of the Regional Bond Dealers Association in Dallas. They’ve asked me to give a speech: here are my notes.