Felix Salmon

Why the New York Times is boring

I agree with pretty much everything Mike Kinsley says in his broadside against unnecessarily-long newspaper articles. But what are newspapers to do about it? The question is a tough one, as Kinsley clearly knows: the conventions he’s complaining about, he says, “are traditional, even mandatory”.

Why BofA needs to shrink

Brian Moynihan’s first speech as CEO of Bank of America was a big one — and, judging by the sometimes-clumsy writing, he wrote it himself. He certainly seems pretty contrite about what happened:

Wine globalization datapoint of the day

Please don’t anyone tell Jonathan Nossiter about Vines of Mendoza, I fear he might never recover. Vines of Mendoza is the epitome of everything Nossiter hates about the new world of wine: it’s all about globalization, homogenization, and money, rather than love and memory and terroir.

Is the Huffington bank boycott a good idea?

Martha White has a very odd column about Arianna Huffington’s attempted boycott of the big four banks. Her math is simple: the four banks have $209 billion between them in transaction deposits, and the average American bank account has $4,000 in it, which means that in order to reduce the deposit base by 5%, or $10.5 billion, a whopping 2.6 million Americans would need to go through the hassle of changing banks.

The interchange-fee rip-off

Back in October, I criticized a WSJ story on interchange fees for not making it clear that they were rising rather than falling. The WSJ’s chart showed interchange fees falling as a percentage of each transaction, and settled on a he-said, she-said approach where first fees seem to be rising and then they seem to be falling:


Can someone please explain to me this week’s New Yorker cover? Are they meant to be standing at the end of a ski jump or something? — TNY

The puzzle of high-alcohol wines

It’s well known that alcohol levels in wine have been rising fast. But this was news to me:

Chart of the day: Negative net national savings

Mike Mandel is doing a great job at uncovering telling charts these days. Here’s his latest:

The no-college option

What are the chances that James Altucher won’t send his daughters to college? Roughly zero, is my guess. Yes, it’s expensive, and yes, it’s possible to make more money as an entrepreneur than as an employee. But only a small minority of people will ever have the necessary skillset to thrive in a business they founded. And many of those will actually go to college in an attempt to acquire that skillset. In any case, the point is that the option value of a college degree is enormous: it gives you potential entry into thousands of careers (including blogging for Reuters) which would otherwise be off-limits.