Felix Salmon

The art book of the decade

December 15, 2009

I recently took possession of one of the most beautiful art objects I own. It’s a book — an absolutely stunning one — and it’s just been published by Yale University Press. It’s the New Complete Edition of Interaction of Color, the legendary book by Bauhaus master Josef Albers. And if you know anybody who loves color, or art, or ever took a color class at art school, or just has bibliophilic tendencies, they will remember you fondly forever if you give it to them.

The risk-averse rich

December 15, 2009

What’s the correlation between wealth and risk appetite? I suspect that it’s somewhat bell-shaped: when you’re very poor you can’t afford to take any risks, while if you’re entering the middle classes you often feel that you have to take risks, especially with your retirement assets, if you’re going to have a chance of maintaining your standard of living once you stop working. If you already have more money than you’ll ever spend, however, then you don’t need to take those kind of risks any more, and you start becoming much more conservative again — see for instance the way in which Suze Orman is invested only in wrapped munis.

Decode your fund brochure

December 15, 2009


Joshua Brown has a very handy cut-out-and-keep mutual-fund-brochure decoder. Now, if only he could do the same thing for Morningstar ratings!

The loan dilemma

December 15, 2009

Barack Obama wants the banks to start lending again:

This is something I hear about from business owners and entrepreneurs across America — that despite their best efforts, they’re unable to get loans.

Putting source documents online, cont.

December 15, 2009

I’m glad that Reuters, along with the Guardian, the FT, the Independent, and the Times, has won its case at the European Court of Human Rights over the protection of journalistic sources.


December 15, 2009

The problems of getting an artist’s visa to travel in the US — WSJ

McArdle says homeowners should pay non-recourse loans even if it doesn’t make financial sense to do so — Atlantic

Stuy-Town capitulates

December 14, 2009

Call it the final death knell for arguably the frothiest deal that the US residential real-estate market has ever seen — the sale of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper village in Manhattan for $5.4 billion in 2006. The driving force behind the deal was the expectation that the new owners could and would be much more aggressive than the old owners (Met Life) in converting rent-stabilized apartments to market rate. Now, however, all the apartments they did manage to convert to market rate are being converted back:

Private-jet divas miss their meeting with Obama

December 14, 2009

How incompetent is Citigroup? Incompetent enough that even today, when the bank is announcing a major agreement with the government to pay back its TARP money, neither its chairman nor its CEO was able to turn up to a meeting with the president of the United States of America.

Annals of public-private dysfunction, Traffic.com edition

December 14, 2009

Eric Lipton has an excellent summary of a scathing government audit of a scheme to improve the quality of the information that states and cities have about traffic congestion. (The report isn’t meant to be online until later this afternoon, but I downloaded it from the inspector general’s website with no problem, and have put it here.)