Felix Salmon

How Goldman Sachs is Annie Leibovitz’s last hope

August 17, 2009

You need to get almost 6,000 words into Andrew Goldman’s story on Annie Leibovitz before the really new and juicy stuff appears:

Ben Stein’s ethical lapse

August 17, 2009

Edward Wasserman, who glories in the title of Knight professor of journalism ethics at Washington and Lee University, has mounted a weird half-hearted defense of Ben Stein in the Miami Herald. Yes, he says, Stein’s columns were “windy and self-indulgent”. But there was no ethical wrongdoing on Stein’s part, and the NYT was wrong to say that there was ethical wrongdoing when it fired him.

Against guaranteed bonuses

August 17, 2009

John Carney has a novel defense of guaranteed bonuses this morning: they’re a good thing, because if they didn’t exist, traders might take on less risk!

Why the FDIC won’t run out of money

August 17, 2009

With the FDIC insurance fund running low, there’s a fair amount of confusion out there about whether the FDIC can run out of money. The answer is no, it can’t. The insurance fund might be down to its last $13 billion, but that number is really useful only for accounting purposes. There’s a government guarantee on bank deposits; the FDIC is merely the arm of the government which administers that guarantee and tries to make sure, by charging banks insurance premiums, that it doesn’t cost the taxpayer any money over the long term.

Annals of unncessary foreclosure fees, Harlem edition

August 17, 2009

Three cheers for Justice Emily Jane Goodman, who threw out a ridiculous foreclosure case that was brought by Washington Mutual against Imar Hutchins, a man who made repeated attempts to make his mortgage payments, all of them rejected by the bank, which then served a foreclosure notice on one of his renters.

Rahm Emanuel, Treasury secretary

August 17, 2009

I’ve been wondering for a while whether the real Treasury secretary — the person who actually makes the big decisions about US fiscal policy — is in fact not Tim Geithner but rather Rahm Emanuel. Today, we learn:

Chart of the Day: The stock market’s P/E Ratio

August 17, 2009

From Bespoke Investment Group, via Abnormal Returns:


Stocks are now trading at p/e ratios not seen since 2004. This is more than pricing in a recovery — this looks very much like pricing in a return to the status quo ante. Does anybody really still think that corporate profits are going to be able to rise faster than US GDP indefinitely? It seems from the level of the stock market that, yes, they do.

Will Terra Firma give up EMI?

August 16, 2009

Aaron Patrick’s WSJ article on EMI tells us little we don’t already know about the state of the famous record label, and indeed soft-pedals the famous “fruit and flowers” expenses so much that many readers will have no idea what he’s talking about. (It’s industry code for cocaine and other illegal expenses.)