Felix Salmon

A Carney-Ritholtz CRA debate?

June 29, 2009

Has John Carney found a backer for a public debate with Barry Ritholtz over whether the Community Reinvestment Act was significantly to blame for the credit crisis? Barry wants the loser to pay the winner “any dollar amount between $10,000 up to $100,000″, which could make it very interesting. (And I think it’s only fair to ask that Carney put up at least some of his own money.)

Deceased icon datapoint of the day

June 29, 2009

From the WSJ:

After the deaths of other major stars, including Elvis Presley, in 1977, and Kurt Cobain in 1994, around half of outstanding concert tickets were never returned for refund, according to people in the concert business, because fans preferred to keep them as souvenirs.

Friday links reinvest in the community

June 26, 2009

Ryan Chittum buries Carney on CRA

Yes, you can raise tariffs on countries which don’t have carbon caps or taxes

Did the WSJ’s Robert Thomson really say that “readers are losers in a world of content verticals… society is content horizontal”?

On this we agree: CRA loans weren’t the bad loans

June 26, 2009

John Carney and I, not content with blogging the CRA, ended up IMing about it as well this afternoon. Here’s one of the more interesting bits of the conversation, in which Carney concedes that CRA loans performed rather well, and that it was banks’ move into non-CRA subprime loans which was the real problem. Which really makes his recent crusade against the CRA all the more puzzling.

Annals of regulatory incompetence, FSA edition

June 26, 2009

Remember Paul Wilmott’s question to an audience of quants?

You are in the audience at a small, intimate theatre, watching a magic show. The magician hands a pack of cards to a random member of the audience, asks him to check that it’s an ordinary pack, and would he please give it a shuffle. The magician turns to another member of the audience and asks her to name a card at random. “Ace of Hearts,” she says. The magician covers his eyes, reaches out to the pack of cards, and after some fumbling around he pulls out a card. The question to you is what is the probability of the card being the Ace of Hearts?

Paying for failure, TCI edition

June 26, 2009

Tom Cahill, June 24:

Christopher Cooper-Hohn’s $9.5 billion hedge fund proposed cutting fees and easing withdrawal limits to retain clients after top executives quit and it lost 43 percent last year, according to three investors…

Housing datapoint of the day, Sheila Bair edition

June 26, 2009

Have you ever wondered who actually buys those weird swim-without-moving treadmilly swimming pool things which seem to have insatiable demand from New Yorker readers? The answer, it turns out, is Sheila Bair:

Goldman Sachs responds to Taibbi

June 26, 2009

I just got off the phone with Lucas van Praag, the top flack at Goldman Sachs, who called Matt Taibbi’s piece on the bank “hysterical”. He also sent me an email, which makes some specific responses to Taibbi’s points:

Adventures in naming, misguided tip-sheet edition

June 26, 2009

Why oh why did Ron Insana have to call his horrible new product Market Movers? I never liked that name when I was at Portfolio — in fact I hated it — but I did live it for two years, and so now I feel there’s some kind of connection between me and Insana. Which makes me feel rather icky, to say the least.