Felix Salmon

Looking at Case-Shiller levels

July 28, 2009

One of the things I like about the Case-Shiller indices is that they’re all based on a level of 100 at January 1, 2000, which by happy coincidence happens to have been a pretty “normal” time in the real-estate market, as such things go. A glance at any Case-Shiller release, then, gives you an immediate take on the cost of housing now compared to 2000. Rather than look at first derivatives or second derivatives, then, I thought I’d take a look at the absolute levels for a change.

Monday links are secretly satisfied

July 27, 2009

Breakingviews claims to reach “nearly 4.5m investors and opinion-formers”. But its website has only 60k uniques.

Art market datapoint of the day

July 27, 2009

According to his official bio, Jay Bryson, a Wachovia economist, is a much-quoted chap:

The despicable Ben Stein

July 27, 2009

How low can Ben Stein get? Well, we know he’ll sell himself to sleazy rip-off merchants if the price is right. But now he’s penned an anti-Obama column for The American Spectator which is so despicable that it fairly takes one’s breath away.

Gawker Media profits soar

July 27, 2009

Nick Denton says that Gawker Media’s revenues were 45% higher in the first two quarters of 2009 than they were in the same period last year; he also tells me that pageviews are up 40% June-on-June. Judging by his chart, profits (revenues less expenses) hit an all-time high this quarter, which explains why he’s started hiring again. (He passed, however, on hiring Bonnie Fuller.)

Was the AIG bailout a Goldman bailout by proxy?

July 27, 2009

Joe Hagan has a big story on Goldman Sachs in this week’s New York, and Moe Tkacik and Matt Taibbi both pick up on the way that Hagan deals with Goldman’s share of the AIG bailout funds. It’s worth quoting at some length:

When growth goes nowhere, do stocks soar?

July 27, 2009

Jason Zweig has some eye-popping results from Elroy Dimson:

Based on decades of data from 53 countries, Prof. Dimson has found that the economies with the highest growth produce the lowest stock returns — by an immense margin. Stocks in countries with the highest economic growth have earned an annual average return of 6%; those in the slowest-growing nations have gained an average of 12% annually.

Revamping traders’ pay

July 27, 2009

Roger Ehrenberg has a much-linked-to piece about how Wall Street banks might revamp the way they pay their traders: basically, he says, turn them into fund managers, with a large ownership stake in their virtual funds.

“We are searching for a different winery for this brand”

July 24, 2009

In the February 2008 edition of Robert Parker’s hugely influential Wine Advocate newsletter, critic Jay Miller gave a highly-coveted 96-point rating to a formerly pretty-much unknown Spanish red called Sierra Carche, a Monastrell-based wine from Jumilla. Given that most Americans — indeed, most wine drinkers — have never heard of either Monastrell or Jumilla, the rating was a huge boon for the wine, and directly resulted in at least one consumer, Robert Kenney, ordering several cases without having ever tasted the wine at first hand.