Felix Salmon

Why is it so hard to modify a mortgage?

Peter Goodman‘s infuriating and important report about the impossibility of modifying mortgages raises an interesting question: why is it so hard? There are three possible answers, I think.

Why architecture isn’t collectible

David Galbraith, looking at a floor of Le Corbusier’s Villa Stein on the market for €1,080,000, concludes that either “architecture is vastly under valued or painting prices are almost entirely irrational”.

The CPSC and homeownership

Jim Surowiecki weighs in on the Consumer Product Safety Commission today, but says that “the new regulations will come at a price”:

Manhattan property datapoint of the day

Ilaina Jonas reports on commercial property in Manhattan:

During the second quarter an additional 4.7 million square feet of office space was put on the market, surpassing the 3.9 million square feet that hit the market in the first quarter.

Media goes barbell

As journalists get laid off across the world, the number of professional bloggers is growing fast. Michael Learmonth today has a look at AOL’s fast-expanding suite of web properties, with a quote from AOL’s Jeff Levick saying that he “will continue to grow these sites and launch new sites”. Meanwhile, TPM Media has just posted seven new staff positions in one day.

Customer-gouging datapoint of the day, Bank of America edition

From WaPo:

Bank of America this year raised the maximum number of times customers can get hit with overdraft fees from five a day to 10.

Latin coup datapoint of the day

The Wikipedia list of successful coups d’état is a very useful resource. You can argue the toss on many of the specifics (was Alberto Fujimori’s dissolution of the Peruvian parliament in 1992 a coup?) but the big picture is clear: Latin American coups are increasingly rare things.

The new Oscar math

David Carr nails the financial implications of doubling the number of Best Picture nominees at the Oscars. It’s bad for the studios — which will now have even more films to market to the Academy in the hope of winning the award; it’s good for media outlets like Variety which get a lot of those marketing dollars; and it’s something of a wash for viewers:

How to sell TARP warrants

What is Treasury meant to do with the warrants it acquired as part of the TARP program? Treasury’s proposal is essentially a complicated dance with the banks in question, which involves financial models and a slew of outside consultants and which may or may not end up in front of multiple independent appraisers.