Felix Salmon

How to regulate CDS

Go read CFTC head Gary Gensler’s speech on regulating credit default swaps: it’s by far the best thing written on the subject to date. He’s absolutely right about pretty much everything, and it would be amazing if the Europeans, who seem much keener to start regulating these animals than we are in the US, were to use it as a blueprint for their own CDS reform.

Counterparties

Shahien’s en fuego. Here he finds a damning HAMP statistic on page 17 of a boring Treasury PDF — HuffPo

Why Geithner went on background

Kevin Drum asks a good question about the background blogger briefing at Treasury:

The Climate Desk

I’m a little scared and more excited to kick off a serious and ambitious exercise in collaboration across a spectacular range of websites, including Center for Investigative Reporting, Grist, Mother Jones, Reuters, Slate, The Atlantic, Wired, and WNET. (Update: the Nation Institute is also involved.) It’s called The Climate Desk, and although its website isn’t up and running yet, it does have a mission statement:

Lies and truth on sovereign CDS

It’s not just the NYT: now the BBC is printing “explanatory” articles about credit default swaps which are simply wrong. Check out the factbox:

Roger Lowenstein vs the CFPA

Roger Lowenstein has a column up on Bloomberg with the headline “Smart Banks With Dumb Customers Don’t Exist” — which just goes to prove that smart writers with dumb ideas do exist. Ryan Chittum has already done a good job dismantling the piece, but I feel the add to add my own two cents with respect to his characterization of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency:

The problem with municipalities buying swaps

Gretchen Morgenson, take note: this is how to write a good article about municipalities dabbling in derivatives.

Why Treasury doesn’t like principal write-downs

Well done to Shahien Nasiripour, who did the best job of anybody, at the Treasury blogger meeting yesterday, at getting Treasury’s officials to commit news. Specifically, he asked about Sheila Bair’s sensible idea that mortgage principal write-downs can help keep homeowners in their homes while also maximizing the value of the mortgage to the issuing bank. And he was told, quite clearly, that Treasury has been talking to Bair about this idea, and that if it makes sense at the bank level, it probably makes sense at the federal level, too, as part of the HAMP program to make mortgages affordable.

Annie Leibovitz’s new creditors

Well done to Annie Leibovitz, who has managed to extricate herself from her unpleasant embrace with the aggressive and litigious Art Capital Group. Her new sole creditor — and we can only guess at how much the principal amount she owes has risen to at this point — is Colony Capital, the $30 billion private-equity shop which normally has its eye on much bigger deals.