Felix Salmon

Regulators should play to their strengths

By Felix Salmon
August 23, 2009

The first thing that regulators do isn’t regulate: the first thing that regulators do is try to maximize their own power. Then, and only then, do they even think about using that power. Item:

The Flaw of Averages

By Felix Salmon
August 23, 2009

I’m not generally a fan of management books, maybe because I’m not a manager. So it’s probably just as well that I didn’t realize that The Flaw of Averages, by Sam Savage, was a management book before I started reading it. The highest praise I can give it is that I finished reading it — all the way through — which is something I don’t think I’ve ever done with a management book. Savage is a clear and gifted writer, which helps, and I’m interested in the subject matter, which also helps.

Those underperforming bond funds

By Felix Salmon
August 22, 2009

Most investors have a significant exposure to bond funds. But according to S&P’s latest SPIVA report — by far the best comparison of fund performance to underlying indices — nearly all of those bond funds have underperformed their indices:

Friday links are significant

By Felix Salmon
August 21, 2009

Bad idea du jour: Murdoch hiring bloggers, putting them behind a paywall

Koons’s personal collection: “Poussin, Dali, Picasso, Magritte, Picabia. Egyptian antiquities. And Manet’s last significant nude.”

Loans aren’t better than securities

By Felix Salmon
August 21, 2009

A bad asset is a bad asset, whether it’s a loan or a security. And the distinction between the two isn’t particularly helpful, as is evidenced by equal-and-opposite newspaper stories today.

Disaggregating Zero Hedge

By Felix Salmon
August 21, 2009

I first heard the name Daniel Ivandjiiski associated with Zero Hedge in March of this year, before the blog really took off. I do believe that he’s just one of many contributors who use the pseudonym “Tyler Durden”, but he’s the only one I’ve ever heard identified, and I think he’s been there for quite a while. He has reportedly said that he’s just a contributor, not a founder, but I’m not sure that distinction really means very much.

Where Rubin went wrong

By Felix Salmon
August 21, 2009

Charlie Gasparino is right:

If there’s one certainty of the past decade of Wall Street greed and government mismanagement of the economy, it’s that Citigroup was a grossly mismanaged institution. Eventually, the federal government was forced to prevent what would have been the largest bank failure in U.S. history by pumping some $50 billion in capital into the bank, and guaranteeing hundreds of millions in toxic assets.

Should banks extend and pretend?

By Felix Salmon
August 21, 2009

There was a nice little debate among the Reuters commentary group this morning about an increasingly-common way of dealing with dodgy loans: what some are calling “extend and pretend” and others refer to as “delay and pray”. Basically, you just roll over bad-but-performing loans as they come due, rather than take any losses associated with the borrower’s inability to make a big principal repayment. Rolfe Winkler, for one, thinks it’s a very bad idea:

The tattooed MBA

By Felix Salmon
August 20, 2009

The conversation in the comments to my tattoo post has become very interesting, and now Ryan Avent weighs in with his take: