Felix Salmon

Matt Taibbi vs Goldman Sachs

Matt Taibbi’s 12-page screed on Goldman Sachs has appeared on newsstands; Zero Hedge has scans, but I can’t link to the piece itself because Rolling Stone hates the internet. Suffice to say that in the second sentence of the piece Taibbi describes Goldman as “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity”; later on, he calls it “the planet-eating Death Star of political influence”. He’s also a dab hand at the pen-portrait:

The Best Picture Oscar gets even less important

Joe Weisenthal is right that the value of a Best Picture nomination has just plunged, now that the number of Best Picture nominees has doubled. What he doesn’t mention is that although there might be some marginal boost for film studios who would otherwise not have gotten a Best Picture nomination at all, there is probably going to be a significant devaluation of the actual Best Picture award.

How commodity indices broke the wheat futures market

Back in March 2008, Diana Henriques noted something very odd: a large number of futures contracts traded in Chicago were expiring at levels much higher than the spot cash price. She said at the time that “economists who have been studying this phenomenon say they are at a loss to explain it”.

Why Citi’s right to raise salaries

John Carney is underwhelmed by the news that Citi is raising its base salaries:

Let’s break this down in the simplest terms: this is a disaster. Without taxpayer guarantees and funding, Citigroup would be unable to give its employees higher base salaries. The best employees would leave for other firms. This market process would further diminish Citi and enhance its better managed competitors. Everyone, except Citi shareholders and some of its senior management, would be better off. Instead, taxpayer funds are being used to block this market process, trapping talent inside a failed firm and rewarding management’s worst mistakes.

Adventures in covenant-stripping, HCA edition

During a credit boom, companies can borrow money with few if any covenants, and lenders are happy to give them anything they want in terms of freedom to refinance or restructure their debt in future.

Tuesday links lose it all

Urban planning fail: Glorious American train stations and what took their places. Incredibly depressing.

Why did Schapiro hire Hu?

Floyd Norris says it’s “great news” that the SEC’s Mary Schapiro has hired Henry Hu, the intellectual father of the CDS-help-cause-bankruptcies meme: it’s “another sign,” he says, “that she plans to be an effective regulator”.

Welcoming the Wall Street brain drain

Societally speaking, it’s a good thing — as Dan Roth says — that Wall Street is losing its brilliant employees and that hot young university graduates are looking to other sectors instead. All that talent is better used just about anywhere else, largely because on Wall Street innovations are kept secret until the point at which they’re no longer of any use:

Actual candor from Jack Welch

Jack Welch likes to cultivate an image as a straight-talking kinda guy who would never say something to an enclave of CEOs that he wouldn’t be happy putting his name to in one of his books or columns.