Felix Salmon

Adventures in national stereotypes

May 27, 2009

The Epicurean Dealmaker has invented a new parlor game: match financial-market participants to Russian national stereotypes circa 1865! Can I play too?

Judges’ soaring bankruptcy workload

May 26, 2009

I’m not sure how often you feel sorry for a judge, but after years of handling the nightmare that is the litigation surrounding Argentina’s sovereign debt situation, the Southern District’s Thomas Griesa is now finding himself making key decisions in the Chrysler litigation, too. So far he seems to have avoided anything Lehman-related, but GM is coming down the pike — and the lack of available bankruptcy lawyers might start being matched only by a lack of available bankruptcy judges. How many monster litigations can any one judge handle simultaneously?

A closer look at the Waxman-Markey allocations

May 26, 2009

John Kemp has a very handy summary of exactly how emissions allowances are going to be allocated under the Waxman bill. And it turns out that while only 15% of the allowances are certainly going to be auctioned — at least in the first instance — another 14% or so are going to go towards pushing clean-energy objectives. As Kemp notes, this is

Revisiting WaMu

May 26, 2009

JP Morgan, having lopped $29.4 billion off the value of WaMu’s loans when it took over the troubled lender, now reckons it’s going to get the lion’s share of that money back:

Why big companies pay better

May 26, 2009

I’m not particularly surprised that big companies pay more than small companies. It stands to reason, really: successful companies will (a) be able to pay more than unsuccessful companies; and (b) be much more likely to grow to a large size.

Hoping for an Apple media server

May 26, 2009

There’s one thing I’m not seeing amidst all the speculation surrounding Apple’s announcements at WWDC the week after next, and that’s a simple media server.

The NYT’s Geffen Put

May 26, 2009

Peter Kafka delves behind the New Yorker’s firewall today to look at the relationship between David Geffen and the New York Times, as reported by Lawrence Wright. The upshot is that if you’re worried about the future of the NYT, don’t be — the Sulzbergers can take all the risks they want, because they know that if it all goes horribly pear-shaped, the Geffen Put will always be there:

The cost of sovereign default turns negative

May 26, 2009

Ecuador has closed out its bond exchange offer at the higher end of expectations, paying 35 cents on the dollar to investors who hold the 2012 and 2030 global bonds. That’s higher than the bonds have traded all year, and certainly higher than they have traded since Ecuador defaulted — which means that any vulture investors who bought the bonds in default will be able to lock in a decent profit for doing essentially no work at all.

No end in sight to the housing bust

May 26, 2009

The done thing when the Case-Shiller index comes out is to look first at the first derivative — how fast is it falling? Then people look at the second derivative — is the rate of decrease slowing down or speeding up? And if there’s no optimism there, you can always find it somewhere. The official press release leads with a graph of the first derivative over time, and then adds this: