Felix Salmon

Where will effective bank regulation come from?

June 17, 2009

What kind of creature will the new National Bank Supervisor be? No one seems to be entirely sure. The NYT and WaPo say that Obama wants “merge” the OTS with the OCC. Reuters and the WSJ say the OTS will be closed, but make no mention of the OCC or the NBS at all. Bloomberg says the OTS will be “eliminated”, while the NBS will “assume the responsibilities of” the OTS and the OCC.

Tuesday links get the picture

June 17, 2009

The New York Stock Exchange’s Sarah Palin Shrine

The Twitterwar in Iran: What you can do – and what you shouldn’t do.

World’s first microinsurance fund launches with $44m

BA pays its cabin crew more than double what Virgin pays

Inflation: not a worry. US industry is operating at just 68.3% of capacity

This time unemployment might be a leading indicator

If you live or work in an Ando, you need to clean and re-seal the outside cement every year

Financial regulation: The alphabet soup gets much worse

June 17, 2009

Do you know a FHC from a BCBS? If not, you’re going to have a hard time wading through the government’s white paper on financial reform, which is full of such things. (An FHC is a financial holding company; the BCBS is the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision. The link is to the WaPo leak of the paper, there might be minor changes in the final document.) This, for instance, is a real sentence from the paper:

The risk of global economic meltdown

June 17, 2009

Mohamed El-Erian has some imperatives for governments in general, and the US government in particular:

Blog traffic datapoint of the day

June 16, 2009

Ben Smith gets some traffic numbers out of The Atlantic:

“It turns out Andrew’s surge in Iran-related traffic put a strain on our servers,” the website’s editorial director, Bob Cohn, e-mailed, saying Sullivan’s Iran blogging had driven more than half of the 1.2 million visits to the site that day and accurately calling the blogger “a force of nature.”

The reverse-convert scam

June 16, 2009

How would you like to lend money unsecured to a highly-leveraged financial institution while at the same time writing an out-of-the-money put option on an extremely volatile individual stock? Sounds unappetizing, right? Except somehow a bunch of banks, including Citigroup, which really ought to know better, are approaching retail investors and proposing they do just that — by buying something called a “reverse convertible note”.

More silly hedge fund coverage

June 16, 2009

What is it with Bloomberg’s Singapore bureau? Not content with a ridiculous article suggesting that US inflation might approach Zimbabwe levels, they’re now running a silly story about a shop by the name of “36 South Investment Managers Ltd” (me neither, but the only AUM datapoint I can find is that one of their funds has an extremely underwhelming $11 million under management.)

Ideas for fixing the economy

June 16, 2009

The July/August “ideas” issue of the Atlantic is now online, and I’ve contributed two ideas to it. The first is essentially the Baker-Samwick proposal from August 2007, which makes so much sense to me I can’t believe it never even came close to taking off. The second is my old argument in favor of arts subsidies: you get much more bang for your buck there, especially when it comes to employment, than you do with any other kind of government spending.

Are ETFs too easy to sell?

June 16, 2009

Jim Wiandt reports on internecine warfare among index investors:

Mr. Bogle has done some intensive research that shows that ETF investors have an even stronger tendency to trade their way into losing to the market, and to an even greater degree than active mutual fund investors.