Felix Salmon

Larry Summers’s billion-dollar Harvard gamble

July 24, 2009

Greg Mankiw adds some insider detail to the story of Larry Summers’s ill-fated interest-rate swap, in the form of an email from “someone knowldgeable about the financial situation at Harvard”.

The end of Wendelin Wiedeking

July 23, 2009

Last year, I put together an interactive feature for Portfolio.com entitled “Watch Out Below”; it listed nine vulnerable “tall poppies” who were liable to be cut down to size over the coming year. There were three CEOs on the list: Shelly Adelson, Ken Lewis, and Wendelin Wiedeking. Maybe it’s to his credit that Wiedeking managed to hang on longer than the other two. But now he’s been fired, while the other two still have their jobs, even if their reputations are in tatters.

Thursday links are eclipsed

July 23, 2009

Do 30 percent of seriously delinquent borrowers “self-cure” without receiving a modification?

What weird spam is this?

July 23, 2009

On June 11, I got an email from mike.power200@gmail.com:

What are the tax if i live in ny and la?
Would you consider giving me a hand or at least some advice based on your experience?
Would you consider giving me a couple pointers?
Thank you in advance.

Annals of rank hubris, Larry Summers edition

July 23, 2009

This is why I love the blogs. The Epicurean Dealmaker has picked up on a detail buried in the 17th paragraph of a dry Bloomberg story from March about the relative funding costs of Harvard and Princeton — a story which, in light of TED’s comments, surely counts as having massively buried its lede.

Morgan Stanley’s risk taking

July 22, 2009

The NYT’s Graham Bowley comes out and says it in his report on Morgan Stanley’s weak earnings today:

Blogging and firewalls

July 22, 2009

File under “getting results”: after I kvetched (not for the first time) about how both The Audit and Dealscape served up truncated RSS feeds, both have now switched to full feeds. Dealscape has an interesting model, which I haven’t seen before: its free content gets served up in full, interspersed with truncated versions of its paid content. Essentially, the RSS feed is acting as an advertisement for the subscription service.

Is the 401(k) a good thing?

July 21, 2009

Mike Konczal (he’s come out now) says, plausibly enough, that the most important financial innovation of the past 30 years is the 401(k). Which is not to say, of course, that it’s a good thing.

Elizabeth Warren returns to blogging

July 21, 2009

Congratulations to the Baseline Scenario chaps for getting Elizabeth Warren to blog for them — she’s provided a good riposte to those who argue against the creation of a Consumer Financial Protection Agency.