Felix Salmon

Wine: the price of the unknown

How many people, when looking at a wine list, would spend $80 on a timorasso, or $90 for sagrantino? (No, I’ve never heard of them either.) According to Stephen Mancini, the 28-year-old wine director for Union Square Cafe, as channeled by Ryan Flinn, it’s a sizeable number: “drinkers are apt to try something they’ve never heard of if it’s less than $100″.

Chrysler: The view from the White House

Steven Rattner’s first-hand account of the automaker bailout is self-serving (of course), but still very much worth reading. He’s very much the office-bound technocrat: “we recognized the importance of a trip to Detroit,” he writes at one point, “so in March, several of us made the journey”. Well, yes, that would probably make sense.

Kenneth Feinberg, pay warrior

Oh wow. This is much more aggressive than anybody had dared hope it would be:

The seven companies that received the most assistance will have to cut the cash payouts to their 25 best-paid executives by an average of about 90 percent from last year…

The importance of Volcker

There’s a curious coincidence of newspaper stories today: just as the NYT’s Louis Uchitelle writes a long piece about Paul Volcker being marginalized, the WSJ runs a story about how he could end up being responsible for what would arguably be the single most important piece of economic policy implemented by the Obama administration.

Art market datapoint of the day

Law firm Heller Ehrman spent millions of dollars putting together a corporate art collection during the biggest bull market the art world has ever seen, before going bankrupt at the end of last year. Now that art collection is being auctioned off:

How Paulson gave Goldman the Lehman heads-up

The secret Paulson-Goldman meeting wasn’t the only time that Hank Paulson treated his buddies at Goldman Sachs especially well while at Treasury. In fact, it wasn’t the only time he did so before he got the now-famous waiver.

Counterparties

Average credit score by email domain. LOVE this chart. — Credit Karma

BusinessWeek editor Steve Adler resigns as Bloomberg takes over magazine. That didn’t take long. — NYP

When too big to fail isn’t systemically dangerous

Economics of Contempt finds something very odd in the legislation that Tim Geithner has proposed for beefing up the regulation of too-big-to-fail institutions, or “Tier 1 FHCs” as they’re known in the jargon:

Annals of regulatory emasculation, ratings agency edition

Reuters is reporting today that Congress has “watered down” the bill regulating the ratings agencies. What’s unclear is whether there’s anything left at all: