Felix Salmon

Those infuriating community banks

I’m getting quite fed up with the Independent Community Bankers of America. First they self-defeatingly came out in opposition to the Consumer Financial Protection Agency, now they’re refusing to grant government-guaranteed loans to small businesses just because it’s not particularly lucrative and they can’t be bothered to do the underwriting.

When insolvent banks are worth billions

Jonathan Weil has a good column today leading with the fact that Regions Financial is insolvent, if you mark its assets to market; it’s not the only one. But stock-market investors don’t seem to mind — they’re valuing the equity in the company at more than $6 billion. The true market measure of how risky the bank is can be found in its credit default swaps: five-year protection written on RF’s tier-2 debt is currently trading at a spread of 722bp over swaps.

The downside of speed-reading

Via Tyler Cowen, who reads very fast, comes a video and full instructions on how to do likewise; the trick is to stop subvocalizing.

America’s doomed small newspapers

Bill Wyman’s 9,000-word, two-part magnum opus laying out five reasons why newspapers are failing is a must-read — or at least the first three reasons are; the final two are a little weaker.

Let Krugman spend his money

Contra Ryan, I’m perfectly happy to take Paul Krugman’s purchase of a new apartment at face value. Does it mean that Krugman thinks home prices aren’t going to fall? No, of course not. Is it a bullish indicator? Similarly, no. A home is not an investment. It’s a place to live.

The problem with the AP’s plan to goose its Googlejuice

The AP has a cunning plan to create “news guide landing pages” which it would force news organizations to link to. The idea is that all that linking will boost the pages’ Google ranking, and thereby bring them lots of traffic from people searching for events in the news. It’s not a bad idea, until you get to this bit:

Thomas Crocker’s weird arguments against cap-and-trade

There’s something rather odd about Thomas Crocker’s opposition to cap-and-trade and his support of a carbon tax instead: all of his arguments why a carbon tax is preferable to cap-and-trade are exactly the same as my arguments why cap-and-trade is better than a carbon tax!

Short-selling conspiracy documentary of the day

Oh yes: there’s now a documentary, featuring a lot of talking heads wearing bluetooth headsets, all about people who bought stock in Sirius XM because it was going up and then lost money because it went down. Of course, it wasn’t their fault. Blame instead the evil short sellers! And do be sure to give the filmmakers $15.99 for their DVD. If they sell enough of these things, they might be able to recoup their losses!

Don’t invest in microfinance

It’s good that the WSJ is taking a skeptical look at the excesses of PE-funded microfinance institutions, even if the newspaper still feels the need to put the word “microfinance” in scare quotes in its headlines.