Felix Salmon

The Fed cracks down on overdrafts

November 12, 2009

Go Fed! In a very CFPA-ish move, the Fed has now announced that effective July 1, no bank can impose overdraft fees on its customers for ATM or debit card transactions, unless and until they explicitly ask for that “protection”. And they even come with a quote from Ben Bernanke talking about “an important step forward in consumer protection”, which is not the kind of language we’re used to hearing from Fed chairmen.

One question for Sheila Bair

November 12, 2009

Paul Solman is taking questions for Sheila Bair. If I could ask her just one question, it would be about her actions taking over WaMu and wiping out all its senior unsecured debt. That’s the wholesale interbank market right there, and in the wake of the WaMu collapse, banks pretty much stopped lending to each other, fearful that at any point Bair could step in and wipe out billions of dollars in assets. The ensuing credit crunch was responsible for trillions of dollars in stock and bond-market losses, and Tim Geithner, for one, was furious at Bair for her precipitous decision.

Micropayments datapoint of the day

November 12, 2009

Joe Brancatelli reports on airline fliers’ stubborn refusal to pay even a nominal sum for wifi:

The shipping industry’s $350 billion debt

November 12, 2009

Landon Thomas‘s story on dodgy shipping loans has some absolutely astonishing numbers, the biggest of which is simply the size of the market, which he pegs at a whopping $350 billion.

A child of 8 could be traded for that!

November 12, 2009

Talk about alternative asset classes: Venetia Kapernekas, a New York art dealer, has traded her claim to part-ownership of two Damien Hirst works in return for custody of her 8-year-old daughter. Need I add that one of the Hirsts is entitled “In this terrible moment we are victims clinging helplessly to an environment that refuses to acknowledge the soul”?

Goldman Sachs’s not very charitable foundation

November 12, 2009

Geraldine Fabrikant gets her hands on the 2008 tax filing for the Goldman Sachs Foundation today, and it’s pretty astonishing stuff:


November 12, 2009

Warhol’s ‘200 One Dollar Bills’ Fetches $43.8 Million — Bloomberg

The editor’s revenge — Torontoist

“Thain let out a gutteral animal howl. Half-rising from his chair, he lunged toward Pandit. “BRAINS!” he moaned.” — NYM

The decline of credit cards

November 11, 2009

Ezra Klein, on what he considers a vicious cycle in credit cards:

The problem is that the people who migrate toward debit cards are the people who have enough money not to need much credit and are responsible enough to not want it. The good risks, in other words. The people left in the credit card market will be disproportionately bad risks, which means rates will go up and standards will tighten, which will in turn drive more people out of the market, starting the cycle over again.

Right-to-rent becomes a reality

November 11, 2009

Something has happened on the right-to-rent front! It comes from Fannie Mae and it’s called deed-for-lease, and I’m basically in full agreement with Dean Baker on this one: it’s a step in the right direction, but it’s still a far cry from what should be happening. Not only should the lease be for more than 12 months, but the program should be rolled out to all mortgages, not just those owned by Fannie Mae.