Felix Salmon

Banks shouldn’t poach talent

August 18, 2009

Chris Swann today delivers a slightly more grown-up and footnoted version of my television rant from yesterday about how banks are paying their employees far too much money; I agree with almost all of his conclusion.

Art Capital’s Leibovitz loan: Numbers emerge

August 18, 2009

Bloomberg’s Katya Kazakina has a story on the relationship between Goldman Sachs and Annie Leibovitz today which adds very little to (and fails to credit the reporting of) the New York magazine story by Andrew Goldman. Given that Goldman got there first and got much more detail, it would have been nice to see Bloomberg give him some credit here.

Argentina’s pollsters

August 18, 2009

I just got a rather hilarious phone call from Brand Democracy (specialists in “psychographic segmentation studies”), a UK company interviewing “CEOs, businessmen, and key opinion formers” on the subject of their opinion of Argentina; their client is the Argentine secretariat of tourism. It’s a slow news day, so I played along; Unicef got a donation at the end. And what fascinated me most was that after a couple of pro-forma questions about visiting Argentina at the beginning, the bulk of the interview was all about my opinion of doing business in Argentina.

Debating financial innovation

August 18, 2009

I’m featured on yesterday’s Planet Money podcast, along with Mike Konczal and Tyler Cowen. I think they give me a fair amount of time to make my points, even though they cut the conversation down from well over an hour to just 25 minutes or so, including a lot of their own background and exegesis. In any case, if you prefer your Felix in audio format, here you are!

Just because you’re rich doesn’t mean you’re smart

August 18, 2009

A tweet from Joe Weisenthal yesterday, on the subject of Annie Leibovitz, is I think revealing of a particularly American mindset: call it the Wealth Corollary of the Efficient Market Hypothesis. In a nutshell, it says that if you’ve made lots of money, you must be pretty smart.

On Felix

August 18, 2009

As someone who knows a fair amount about Felix the Cat, I can concur with Skip Gates that he is not and was not a caricature of African-Americans. I can also concur with Paul Krugman and James Fallows that it is by no means necessary that Felix be African-American for Niall Ferguson’s FT lede (“President Barack Obama reminds me of Felix the Cat. One of the best-loved cartoon characters of the 1920s, Felix was not only black. He was also very, very lucky”) to be utterly inappropriate and offensive.

Monday links are mostly revealing

August 17, 2009

I had fun on Canadian TV this afternoon hitting back at John Carney on bonuses

Gillian Tett on why bank ‘living wills’ aren’t going to happen

Entomophagy is the future!

Elizabeth Warren’s co-blogger Adam Levitin explains why the CFPA is necessary (PDF)

The Muppets take Paris

August 17, 2009

Earlier this month, 34 of Barack Obama’s first 60 ambassadorial appointments were political appointees rather than career diplomats — an astonishingly high percentage for a man who said when he took office that his “general inclination is to have civil service wherever possible serve in these posts”. Today, that ratio has gone up: it’s now 38 of the first 65, which means that four of the last five ambassadorial appointments have been political: plums given out to major fund-raisers.

Where the NYT beats the WSJ

August 17, 2009

Around the beginning of 2009, the two daily newspapers I subscribe to (the NYT and the WSJ) started being left on the sidewalk outside my building, rather than delivered indoors. This annoyed me, since anybody could (and frequently did) simply walk away with the paper I’d paid for. After altogether far too much work on my part, I eventually determined that the papers had switched newspaper delivery companies, I provided them with keys to the building, and the problem was more or less solved — until a month or two ago, when I noticed that although the NYT was still being delivered indoors, the WSJ was back to its old location on the sidewalk.