Felix Salmon

Wal-Mart does not save families $3,100 a year

Jim Ledbetter, it’s very easy to avoid getting into idiotic arguments with Dennis Kneale on CNBC: just stop going on CNBC. But at the same time, it’s worth pushing back much more on the ludicrous claim that Wal-Mart saves the average American family $3,100 a year:

Counterparties

Sky News is using YouTube to host their entire “News Corp will block Google” interview with Murdoch — YouTube

Political risk in microlending

Elyssa Pachico has an excellent round up of the No Pago movement in Nicaragua, which is threatening the future of microfinance in that country. While most of the reporting on the issue has been pretty one-sidedly in favor of the microlenders, mass protests don’t rise out of nothing, and in this case the initiating outrage seems to have been the arrest of six people with overdue debts in Jalapa by a lender called Pro Credit.

Cash for clunkers datapoint of the day

Good on the AP for FOIAing the details of how cash-for-clunkers played out:

The single most common swap — which occurred more than 8,200 times — involved Ford F-150 pickup owners who took advantage of a government rebate to trade their old trucks for new Ford F-150s. The fuel economy for the new trucks ranged from 15 mpg to 17 mpg based on engine size and other factors, an improvement of just 1 mpg to 3 mpg over the clunkers.

The idiocy of double secret probation

Bill Black makes mincemeat of the idea that the government can and should keep a top-secret list of systemically-dangerous institutions which are subject to “heightened prudential standards”:

Chart of the day, unemployment edition

Another great chart from the people at nytimes.com: this one shows how unemployment has risen among various different segments of the population, since January 2007. Here’s what’s happened to the 12-month average employment rate for black men without a high-school degree under 25 years old:

Berlin

In September, Tyler Cowen picked Berlin as his “preferred exile”:

There would be plenty of art and music, lots of smart people to talk to, access to other good locales, and the near-certainty of public order, yet with bearable winters and good health care.

Putting source documents online

Gabriel Sherman has a long profile of Andrew Ross Sorkin, which spends a lot of time talking about Sorkin’s problematic status within the NYT in general and the Sunday Business section in particular. But all big companies have internal politics. What’s interesting is what the story says about the NYT’s devotion, or otherwise, to serving its readers by giving them the information they want.

Ken Lewis and the regulators

The WSJ has an interesting Ken Lewis profile today:

If there was a bank executive who seemed to have the mettle to withstand today’s regulatory and market pressures, it was Ken Lewis. The Mississippi native clawed to the top of Bank of America. After succeeding his mentor, Hugh McColl Jr., as chairman and CEO in 2001, Mr. Lewis kept up a blistering pace of acquisitions and tight control of operations at the bank, which expanded to $2.3 trillion in assets from some $620 billion.