Felix Salmon

The upside of outrage

November 24, 2009

Noam Scheiber has the fascinating behind-the-scenes story of how the derivatives-regulation sausage is being made — and how Wall Street, amazingly, seems to be losing the lobbying war, at least for the time being. In a nutshell, the banks sought to get around proposed new derivatives regulations by creating an “end-user exemption” loophole which they could then drive their trucks full o’money straight through. But the CFTC’s Gary Gensler saw through the ruse and persuaded Barney Frank to tighten up the language and minimize the size of the loophole. And since the banking lobby was pretending to care only about its end-user clients, it had few if any grounds on which to object to the new bill.


November 24, 2009

Remembering collateral costs in synthetic ETFs — Index Universe

Daily Intel commenter says the only cure for Goldman’s PR troubles is PUPPIES FOR EVERYONE — NYM

Chicago’s good parking deal

November 23, 2009

File under “events which don’t happen every day”: Gawker describing a newspaper article as being “real journalism” (their emphasis) and “what news alarmists say will be missing if and when we lose newspapers”.

I’m getting emotional

November 23, 2009

The Fund seeks to provide qualified investors with an opportunity to achieve long-term capital appreciation through investment in Emotional Assets. Its objective is to deliver a stable target growth rate of 15% per annum, with predictable volatility – at the same time preserving capital.

The fiscal-prudence debate

November 23, 2009

Edmund Andrews has a long front-page story today on what he calls “the United States’ long-term budget crisis” — and has occasioned a strangulated “Urg” out of Paul Krugman in doing so. Krugman wrote a very smart blog entry on Friday (Tyler Cowen called it one of the best recent economics posts in some time) which talks about exactly the issue that Andrews is addressing — the question of whether and how the interest rates that the US pays on its borrowings might rise in future. But none of that nuance made it onto the NYT’s front page. Instead, we get this:

Ackman’s auction-rate apartment

November 23, 2009

Bill Ackman has sold his huge apartment at the Majestic, which means he also needs to sell the baby 1BR one floor down that he bought in 2007 for $450,000. (How baby? It’s 322 square feet; that’s smaller than the 406-square-foot living room in the apartment he just sold.)

The role of the database in the financial crisis

November 23, 2009

It’s over a year old now, but this paper, by Norm Cimon, is still very interesting for where it places the blame for a large part of the financial meltdown: the rise of computing power generally, and the relational database in particular.

Why BusinessWeek shouldn’t ape Time.com

November 23, 2009

Why was Josh Tyrangiel hired to be the new editor of BusinessWeek? One reason, the pundits agree, is that he successfully dragged Time — another weekly — onto the web. Ryan Chittum writes about “his eye-popping numbers at Time.com”, with pageviews rising from 400 million in 2006 to an estimated 1.8 billion this year, while Marion Maneker says that “he had tremendous success in building Time.com’s Web traffic over a few years”.

Annals of news-burying, Overstock edition

November 22, 2009

Friday was the Financial Follies — which means that most of New York’s financial journalists descended on the Marriott Marquis for the evening. The joke going around was that Friday afternoon would be a great day to bury bad news, a la Jo Moore, on the grounds that even fewer people would be around to cover it than would normally be working on a Friday after the markets close.