Felix Salmon

When banks securitize loans to each other

Richard Barley has a very depressing column today which begins like this:

Bankers and policy makers agree on the need to revive the securitization market to enable banks to roll over a big chunk of their existing wholesale funding.

It’s all just a bunch of Bierce

My friend Matthew Rose has written a wonderful financial edition of the Devil’s dictionary. A taster:


53-page Treasury report entitled “The Next Phase of Government Financial Stabilization and Rehabilitation Policies” — Treasury

Pinning the blame on the House Republicans

Jim Surowiecki has an interesting response to Joe Nocera’s contrarian idea that letting Lehman fail, far from precipitating the worst of the financial crisis, actually enabled the government to bail out AIG and otherwise increase its intervention to something approaching the needed level.

Obama’s speech: The good news

A couple of bits jumped out at me from Barack Obama’s prepared speech today. First is his explanation of why the Consumer Financial Protection Agency is so necessary:

Obama likes financial innovation

Barack Obama said that he wants to do regulatory reform “in a way that doesn’t stifle innovation and enterprise”. Shame. Given how dangerous financial innovation and enterprise have been over the past decade, one would have hoped that a bit of stifling was a top priority for the Obama administration.

Mint gets eaten by the Borg

Intuit is buying Mint.com for a whopping $170 million. That’s a lot of money for a company which has yet to make a dollar in profit — indeed, it found itself in need of an extra $14 million in equity capital only last month.

BusinessWeek datapoint of the day

Businessweek.com was charging $25 CPMs in 2006, and selling out 79% of its inventory. This year, its CPMs are down to less than $20, and even then it’s selling only a very weak 38% of its inventory. With CPMs down by a quarter and the sell-through rate down by a half, what has happened to total revenues? Astonishingly, they’re up by about 4.5% over the period in question, and are now running at more than $20 million a year.

How hedgies fight pneumonia

Lance Laifer is a good guy, with his heart in the right place and a history of raising millions of dollars for important causes. But I don’t think his latest idea is his best ever: