Felix Salmon

Annie Leibovitz’s exit strategy

August 31, 2009

Bloomberg’s Katya Kazakina has done the rounds of various real-estate appraisers, asking them how much Annie Leibovitz’s property might be worth, and it turns out that the real estate alone – never mind her life’s work – could well sell for substantially more than she owes Art Capital Group. But, as Kazakina says with delicious understatement:

Paulson vs Fuld, cont.

August 31, 2009

Vanity Fair scores another bullseye this month with Todd Purdum’s 8,000-word article on what Hank Paulson was thinking over the course of the financial crisis, as revealed in a series of embargoed interviews he gave at the time — VF has, improbably, become the home of the best financial journalism in the world of magazines.

The systemic threat posed by megabanks

August 31, 2009

Just a gentle reminder, if you haven’t got around to it yet, that you really have to read David Cho’s piece (and graphical sidebar) on how the too-big-to-fail banks are growing, both in size and profitability, at the expense of small-enough-to-fail institutions:

Empty storefronts

August 31, 2009

Justin Fox has a very good post on the broken state of the commercial real estate, pointing to empty spaces on Broadway and in Newcastle, Australia. I could easily add my own street, Avenue B, which has an inordinate number of empty storefronts, or could point to Centre Point, in London, a skyscraper which stood empty from its completion, in 1966, until 1979.

Stock volatility datapoint of the day, Shanghai edition

August 31, 2009

A bear market is commonly defined as when you drop more than 20% from the high point; in Shanghai, stocks — which fell 6.7% today alone — have managed to drop more than 20% just in the month of August. But the other major Asian indices didn’t seem too perturbed — none dropped more than 2%, while Kuala Lumpur and Taiwan both rose — and the crazy volatility of the Shanghai bourse should really be put down to Shanghai-specific factors, including the monster run-up the index has had this year.

Sunday links go a bit too far

August 30, 2009

FAA, 2007-date: “Nothing can be stowed in the seat pockets except magazines and passenger information cards.”

The Murdoch MacTaggart lecture

August 30, 2009

James Murdoch is slightly younger than I am, but that doesn’t stop large chunks of his MacTaggart lecture from sounding as though they’re emanating from a veritable dinosaur. In an age where pretty much everybody agrees on the importance of increased regulation in the financial sector, it seems trite at best for him to equate any such impulses with creationism:

The efficient markets hypothesis in fund fees

August 30, 2009

Via Chris Addy, a Dilbert cartoon from January 2000:


The scary thing is this is actually true, when it comes to things like the Renaissance Medallion Fund. If it wasn’t for current and former employees only, it would have no difficulty raising many billions of dollars at 5-and-44. The only way it can keep the suckers at bay is by closing the fund to all outside investors.

Silly chart of the day, data-fitting edition

August 29, 2009

Paul Kedrosky finds this chart in a Bloomberg story: it’s the kind of thing which really reinforces one’s belief in the wonders of data-fitting.