Felix Salmon

Whither new car sales?

The NYT has an interesting chart showing light-vehicle sales, on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis, every month since 1976. The chart would seem to imply that a large uptick in vehicle sales is in the offing. But there’s one other chart I would like to see total cars per household (or per person) in the US. Was there a significant increase in cars per household as America suburbanized and moved into bigger homes with bigger garages? And if we’ve reached a far-too-high number of cars per household, how long will new-car sales have to remain near current levels before we get back down to a “new normal”?

Where should mutual funds invest their repo collateral?

Jason Zweig is the lastest person to decide that the financial sector should take less risk. After looking at mutual fund practices when it comes to securities lending, he concludes:

Harvard datapoint of the day

Richard Bradley reports:

Harvard has already halted the hiring of junior faculty and announced an early retirement program for tenured professors, and for the first time ever is considering laying off tenured professors.

Lessons from Ecuador’s bond default

EMTA, formerly the Emerging Markets Traders Association, had an interesting panel on the Ecuador default today. It was a bit lopsided: no one on the debtor side — and EMTA invited the country’s own representatives, as well as its lawyers and bankers, and even the US Treasury — would agree to attend. As such, it was really a panel of private-sector participants, and felt much like a wake: it was clear that with the success of Ecuador’s exchange offer, the country has won and the private sector has lost.

When sovereigns selectively default

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve recommended James Macdonald’s excellent book A Free Nation Deep in Debt: The Financial Roots of Democracy to people interested in the connections between democracy, development, and debt capital markets. So I’m very chuffed that Macdonald has popped up in the comments on this blog to talk about the historical precedents behind Ecuador’s decision to repudiate some of its old debts, while staying current on certain of its newer debts.

Why the government shouldn’t insure securitized assets

Ezra Klein does us all a favor this morning by spending 1,000 words or so summarizing a 20,000-word, 53-page paper by Yale’s Gary Gorton. Now to make it even shorter!

Dinallo hands an opportunity to Geithner

If Andrew Cuomo tries to become the next governor of New York State — which he almost certainly will — then his current job, attorney general, will open up. And Eric Dinallo almost certainly wants it.

Thursday links get their full URLs back

How government is helping drive entrepeneurship — not. Then again, what do you expect from NY State.

The difficulty of preserving private capital

Most of the attention being paid to yesterday’s Ira Sohn conference seems to concentrate on David Einhorn, with his quite compelling idea that a triple-A rating is a curse, and that therefore Moody’s, whose highest praise is to bestow a triple-A rating on a company, is in for a world of pain.