Felix Salmon

E-publishing: A Q&A with Dan Gross

April 20, 2009

Dan Gross’s e-book on the financial crisis is now out in paperback, just a couple of months after its release. (By contrast, his last hardback book still isn’t available in paperback, a good two years after it came out.) Bob Thompson gives the backstory in the Washington Post: how Dumb Money was commissioned as an e-book, and how come it came out in print so quickly. I asked Dan a few more questions as a followup, via email.

Bank recaps: Why the preferred stock swap makes sense

April 20, 2009

Paul Krugman and James Kwak are unhappy with the way in which the government is proposing debt-for-equity conversions as a way of recapitalizing the banks — mainly because they don’t consider the preferred stock bought initially under the TARP program to be debt in the first place, and if you look at it as equity, it’s true that no one benefits much from an equity-for-equity conversion.

The plight of the overpaid

April 20, 2009

Gabe Sherman has put together an astonishing concatenation of moans and whines from New York’s monied classes, and it makes for enlightening reading. You thought that New Yorkers were all liberal Obamaphiles? Well, they were — until their seven-figure bonuses started coming under attack.

Will convertible-bond buyers help prevent bank nationalization?

April 20, 2009

Edmund Andrews has the news that the Obama administration seems to have settled on its preferred method of recapitalizing banks which have failed its stress test: it’s going to take the TARP money that it’s already lent them, and convert it into equity. That makes perfect sense to me: it avoids the government having to ask Congress for extra funds, and it implies that banks will be nationalized to precisely the degree the government considers them to need its own recapitalization.

10 reasons for the lack of German econobloggers

April 19, 2009

One of the most exciting parts of moving to Reuters is the fact that we’re putting together what promises to be a very bloggy and truly international economics and finance website. The bloggy bit I’m enthusiastic about — but the international bit is actually quite a serious obstacle, because the finance and economics blogosphere simply hasn’t taken off overseas in the same way that it has in the US.

How the CDS market makes restructurings more difficult

April 18, 2009

Commenter VM asks whether reduced incentives for bondholders to keep a company out of bankruptcy aren’t “a fairly horrible side effect” of the credit default swap market. Megan McArdle is thinking along similar lines, and her blog entry elicited a rather unconvincing response from Charles Davi.

Friday links mess things up again

April 17, 2009

Obama’s Economics Speech: POTUS is by far the best communicator of economic concepts in the administration.

How to succeed in customer service

April 17, 2009

Equity Private was moving some boxes recently, and found her notes from an interview with a super-smart customer-service manager. This is wonderful stuff, and should be disseminated as widely as possible: I can’t imagine why anybody would want to keep it quiet.

Lifestyles of the Tennessee rich

April 17, 2009

It’s commonplace to find families earning more than $250,000 a year in places like New York and San Francisco who don’t consider themselves to be rich. But the WSJ has found solid gold in Ellen and Donald Parnell: they’re earning $260,000 a year in Tennessee and still claim that they “don’t have a load of cash” to cover the things they might want to buy.