Felix Salmon

Christian values, only $25.98

December 21, 2009

Baptist values are going cheap! They’re only $25.27 per share, while Methodist values are $25.55, Lutheran values are $25.56, and Catholic values are $25.98 — the same price as general Christian values.

The Fed’s regulatory errors

December 21, 2009

Binyamin Appelbaum and David Cho have a very clear-eyed summary of where the Fed screwed up in terms of bank regulation over the past few years. Two things are clear: that the Fed had the power to prevent the excesses that banks got involved in over the course of the Great Moderation; and that it didn’t even come close to beginning to wield that power until after the Great Moderation had become the Great Recession and it was far too late.

Why harsh white-collar sentences make sense

December 21, 2009

Matthew Kelley asks whether the 14-year sentence for the former head of El Paso Corp.’s natural gas trading business isn’t excessive; my feeling is that it makes a certain amount of sense.

What price better credit

December 21, 2009

First Premier Bank is (still) offering one of the most usurious credit cards I’ve ever seen. The APR is reasonable, at 9.9%, but just check out those fees:

The winner-takes-all smartphone

December 21, 2009

Baruch reckons that Apple has pulled off something very clever indeed: a “phase transition” in the mobile-phone market.


December 18, 2009

Against the handwriting Nazis — Miller-McCune

You think that walking away is a Bad Thing? Tell that to Morgan Stanley! — Ritholtz

Distressed debt datapoint of the day

December 18, 2009

Henny Sender reports:

Bonds trading at less than 50 cents on the dollar now account for only 1.1 per cent of the high-yield market, or $8.9bn in securities, down from 27.5 per cent, or $202bn in bonds, a year ago, according to JPMorgan data.

Wine inflation

December 18, 2009

The Economist has a brief history of the wine industry:

Sir Robert Walpole, Britain’s first prime minister, used navy ships to smuggle his favourite wines from France. The most expensive one he bought was old burgundy, but that—as now—was available only in tiny quantities. So he relied largely on claret, buying four hogsheads of 24 dozen bottles of Margaux and one hogshead of Lafite every three months. In a single year his wine bill amounted to over £1,200 (£100,000 today).

Those Harvard swaps: Even more of a fiasco than we thought

December 18, 2009

Bloomberg takes a dive into the Harvard swaps fiasco today, and uncovers some pretty juicy information. For instance, check out Larry Summers’s state of mind when he was entering into the swaps: