Felix Salmon

Dealing with student loans

Anne Marie Chaker’s story is a little bit too alarmist, I think, but there’s still a serious problem here:

Money market funds, risk, and cash

Eleanor Laise has the encouraging news this morning that Deutsche Bank is planning to launch a money-market fund whose shares fluctuate in value, rather than being artificially pegged at $1.

Late links, September 2

The behavioral economics of playing hard to get

OK, so being good at Task X is a good predictor of academic success. But that doesn’t mean that we should teach Task X.

Ben Stein and the plight of the upper-middle-class parent

Now that he’s been fired from the New York Times, Ben Stein has popped up as a “contributor” to Fortune, of all places. (I’m not sure that “thank” is the right word, but I found out about this from Dan Gross.)

The Opel saga

A team of seven Spiegel staffers has produced a spectacular account of the big M&A story you’re probably vaguely aware of and find far too complicated to understand — the attempted sale of GM’s European car division, Opel. There’s lots of great stuff here, such as the games of phone tag being played out at the highest levels of the German and US governments (including Angela Merkel, Tim Geithner, and even Hillary Clinton and Dmitry Medvedev); and the spectacular own-goals being scored by the German government (like appointing board members to the German-American trust overseeing the sale of Opel who disagreed fundamentally with the government’s own plans for the carmaker).

Is Wells Fargo regretting its Wachovia acquisition?

Putting aside the all-but-irredeemable basket-cases BofA and Citigroup, there’s only one major bank which has yet to repay its TARP money: Wells Fargo. How come? I Wells has a reputation as being the best and most solid bank in America, a favorite of Warren Buffett, and a bank which managed to sidestep most of the worst excesses of the credit boom.

Deconstructing nature-vs-nurture charts

After Greg Mankiw sparked a blogospheric resurgence of the nature vs nurture debate, Brad DeLong and Tyler Cowen Alex Tabarrok weighed in with very different views of the empirical data. Tyler Alex featured an extremely provocative graph, and I waited for someone, maybe Yglesias, to respond.

Late links, September 1

Ex-girlfriend ignoring you? There’s an app for that

Taibbi on TARP math: “like calculating fund returns by only counting the stocks that have gone up”

Why there can only be one basket of regulatory eggs

The prize for the weakest argument ever against a single strong bank regulator goes to Sheila Bair, with her tired and utterly inappropriate metaphor that “we can’t put all our eggs in one basket”. To the contrary, we have to put all our regulatory eggs in one basket, because otherwise the phenomenon of regulatory arbitrage will simply result in a race to the least-safe basket, as well as competition between regulators to see who can be most accommodating to banks.