Felix Salmon

Geithner in the hot seat

The New York Fed has announced that its decision to try to squelch AIG disclosures had nothing whatsoever to do with Tim Geithner. Who was the president and CEO of the bank at the time, and is famous for his attention to detail. But Geithner had every opportunity, both at the Fed and at Treasury, to agitate for greater transparency and for the release of even more emails. He never did so, and my feeling is that if nobody asked him about the AIG disclosures it was because there was no need to do so: his attitude to such things was clear.

The upside of the Move Your Money campaign

I’m puzzled by Yvette Kantrow’s supercilious dismissal of Arianna Huffington’s Move Your Money campaign. Kantrow paints the campaign as being about “optics” over substance, and complains that “it emphasizes symbolism over reality and feeling over fact”. And she does so with no hyperlinks at all, which means that when she says the campaign “promises to help you ‘stick it’ to big banks”, it’s impossible to fact-check her. (That phrase certainly never appears on the initial blog entry which launched the campaign.)

How Jeffrey Gundlach treats his clients

TCW’s lawsuit against Jeffrey Gundlach — Dealbreaker has the whole thing here — is nominally asking for lots of money. Of course it is. But I suspect that at heart it’s a strong message to all of those clients who haven’t (yet) left TCW for Gundlach’s new shop. Gundlach is a conniving diva, it says, who not only is willing to break his fiduciary duties if he thinks that’s in his own interest, but is also more than happy to leave his clients in the lurch as well.

No hiring yet

Today’s payrolls report is entirely consistent with the kind of recovery where the employment situation is going to remain grim even if and when corporate profits start picking up. I like the fact that the unemployment rate for adult men, at 10.2%, is down 0.4 percentage points from its October peak. But total underemployment — the famous U-6 — is still extremely and stubbornly high at 17.3%, and the total number of unemployed persons, at 15.3 million, is double what it was at the start of the recession in December 2007.

Deutch finally leaves the Citi board

John Deutch, one of the many grandees with no financial experience who populated bank boards in the run-up to the financial crisis, is finally stepping down from his sinecure at Citigroup:


“Joan Robinson once described Milton Friedman as a magician who would put a rabbit into a hat in full view of the audience, and then expect applause when he pulled it out again sometime later.” — Business Spectator

The next real-estate bust

Now that Roger Lowenstein has published an article in the NYT Magazine headlined “Walk Away From Your Mortgage!”, I think we can safely stay that what started as a controversial and minority stance has at this point become thoroughly mainstream. (The corollary is that arguments in favor of paying one’s debts are now contrarian.) It’s a credit to Mark Gimein that his blog entry from 14 months ago, entitled “Morally Conflicted About Walking Away? Don’t Be“, was not only one of the first places to make this point, but still stands out as one of the best expressions of the argument.

The debit-card interchange scam

Mike Konczal has a detailed response to Tyler Cowen on the subject of debit-card fees, but before disappearing any further down this rabbit hole, I think it’s worth clearing up one misconception which Tyler might have, given that he seems to think that his experience shows that maybe “things aren’t so bad after all”.

Does Feinberg want to control bankers’ pay or not?

In the wake of that massive Steve Brill profile, Ken Feinberg is now appearing on Bloomberg TV, and saying something very odd indeed: