Felix Salmon

The limits of economic policy

Are the financial markets in denial about how soon the recovery will come and how impressive it will be? Mohamed El-Erian, for one, thinks so, and he points to the unemployment rate as a key reason why things are not going to get noticeably better any time soon:

Weekend infoporn

Well that’s annoying. I just wrote a very long blog entry about Brad Setser’s wonderful multimedia extravaganza over at CFR.org — click here and then click on “Chapter III: Motion Charts”. And then when I tried to post it, it disappeared entirely. So here’s the short version: all four of the wonderful Gapminder-style charts (household balance sheets, financial failures, global imbalances, and economic power shifts) are great, but my favorite is the financial failures one, which shows banks’ capital, assets, and market capitalization over time.

How driving a car into Manhattan costs $160

In the world of urban planning, there are few things hairier than transportation hypotheticals. When NYC pedestrianized Broadway in Times Square and Herald Square in May, the transportation commissioner said that traffic speeds would go up — but now it seems that we won’t know until December at the earliest whether that’s actually true.

Thursday links take a different tack

Morningstar’s John Rekenthaler defends target-date funds from my attack

Richard Florida celebrates the past and future decline in homeownership

Weird: the iShares California Municipal Bond ETF is up this year, even as the Aggregate Bond Fund is down

Why bank fees need to be regulated

Whenever I write a blog entry advocating more and/or better regulation, the laissez-faire types, like Vincent Fernando, have a tendency to come out of the woodwork:

The banks’ cunning MBS plan

Heidi Moore has 1,200 words on bank bonuses in The Big Money. But it being a holiday weekend and all, I know you can’t be bothered to read the whole thing. So here’s the shorter version:

How AIG FP brought down the world

Michael Lewis is back in Vanity Fair, with a really good article about Joseph Cassano and AIG Financial Products. Or half of a really good article, at any rate — the second half of the story is fantastic, and gives by far the best English-language account of what happened at FP and how Cassano, by commission and omission, enabled it. (The piece isn’t online, just a précis — I do hope VF gives up this annoying habit soon.)

The scandal of overdraft fees

There’s been a lot of noise about overdraft fees of late, or NSF fees as they’re known in the industry. (It stands for non-sufficient funds.) Bank of America will now assess such things ten times a day, and the NYT’s Eric Dash has a good overview of the problem using data from Moebs Services:

Modelling model risk

Paul Wilmott has words of wisdom for anybody in the financial-services industry who’s putting a model together: