Felix Salmon

US consumption datapoint of the day

September 5, 2009

From Jon Mooallem’s very good NYT Magazine article on the self-storage industry:

Damian Tambini’s internet bigotry

September 4, 2009

Jeff Jarvis is kvetching, reasonably enough, about “internet bigotry” — the idea that everything bad which happens in the media must somehow be the fault of the internet, and bloggers, and other such new-media developments. It’s a theme running through Damian Tambini’s very long and boring essay on ethics in financial journalism, which has just been published by the LSE and Polis. For instance:

Historical lessons in disincentivizing bankers

September 4, 2009

There are too many bankers, and they make too much money. How to deal with this? You can try to crack down on bankers’ pay directly, but that’s unlikely to work. You can try to fiddle with capital-adequacy standards, so that big banks become less profitable, but that’s unlikely to have much in the way of immediate effect. Or, you could follow the lead of Holland, circa 1581, as explicated by Simon Schama:

The weight of unemployment

September 4, 2009

The number jumping out at me from this morning’s employment report is 6.9 million: the total decline in employed people since December 2007. The macroeconomic effects of that kind of change are huge: if each person ends up spending $20,000 less a year on average, that adds up to $138 billion in lost economic activity.

Late links, September 3

September 4, 2009

The Geithner plan is out!

PayPal is opening its platform to Third Party Developers. But do they need to use that music?

Can higher capital standards cause lower pay?

September 3, 2009

Robert Peston is skeptical that the Brown/Sarkozy/Merkel plan to restrict bankers’ pay is either workable or a good idea.

How miscommunication caused Lehman’s collapse

September 3, 2009

Larry Elliott and Jill Treanor have a big story today, although I’d love to see it re-reported elsewhere. Remember the tick-tock on why Lehman Brothers was allowed to fail: although there was a bid on the table from Barclays, it required government funds, and neither the US nor the UK government were willing to provide them.

What would Wilmott buy?

September 3, 2009

A fantastic catch from Nemo after Paul Wilmott appeared on CNBC this morning to make a very good point: that there’s still a huge amount of model risk in the system, that the sheer size of financial institutions still poses a massive potential systemic risk, and that high-frequency trading, in particular, does a bad job of efficiently allocating long-term capital, which is the primary purpose of the markets.

The demise of the advertorial business

September 3, 2009

Two of the most popular blog entries I ever wrote were on the subject of AFA press. AFA is a publisher of sleazy advertorials, targeted mainly at companies in developing markets. (In the US, they operate under the name “Summit Communications”, when producing inserts for the New York Times.) Between my original March 2006 blog entry and its July 2006 follow-up, there are now more than 50,000 words of comments from people either involved or thinking about getting involved in this business.