Felix Salmon

The new standardized mortgage estimate

James Hagerty is cautiously optimistic about the new, standardized good faith estimate form which has been mandated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. If you get one of these forms from three or four different lenders, and they all fill out this table, then being able to choose the best mortgage for you is going to be much easier than it has been until now.

The economic statistic of the decade

Mike Mandel has four nominees for his “Economic Statistic of the Decade” award, including home prices (obvs), Chinese growth, and global trade. But the most startling one, for me, is US household borrowing:

Counterparties

Vanity Fair says it handles a combined five snail mail letters or faxes a month — WWD

How Feinberg set executive pay

Steve Brill has a very interesting 8,500-word story in this weekend’s NYT magazine, all about Kenneth Feinberg and the process he went through to determine the pay packages of companies the US government had bailed out.

Deaths foretold

Ryan Avent worries about the incentives built into the 2010 repeal of the estate tax:

Bureaucratic fantasy of the day

Emanuel Derman wins the day with this:

I had a fantasy in which the Fed and the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) switched roles.

The ethics of walking away, cont.

Yesterday, I asked Megan McArdle how much of one’s life’s savings should be given to the bank before they take one’s house. She answers, gratifyingly, that in the particular case I was writing about, “obviously he should have walked away immediately.” Good, we’re in agreement on that. If you’re going to lose your house, best just to lose your house, rather than to lose your house and your savings.

Poem of the day

Martin Dickson wins the day with his fabulous tale of bankster excess, in rhyming couplets no less. Go read the whole thing, but here’s a taster:

What use short selling?

I’m noticing a theme chez John Hempton: a few weeks ago he was writing about the dangers of shorting frauds, and now he’s writing about the dangers of shorting an industry in terminal decline. At least he’s not doing this kind of thing at book length: David Einhorn spent 380 pages detailing the dangers of shorting Allied Capital.