Felix Salmon

Municipal finance datapoint of the day, Latvia edition

April 7, 2010

Duncan Wood has a great story about sleazy municipal finance today, with big investment banks helping a major city hide hundreds of millions of dollars in debt. The city is Riga, Latvia; the bank is Deutsche:

The commercial real estate boomlet

April 7, 2010

We saw yesterday that indiviuals across America seem to have learned nothing from the housing bust — and now Dana Rubinstein has a great piece in the NYO showing that exactly the same is true in the world of commercial real estate as well. That’s certainly what Newmark Knight Frank president Jimmy Kuhn thinks:

The FOMC’s minutes get political

April 7, 2010

Shahien Nasiripour finds a nugget in the latest FOMC minutes: for the first time since 2002, they mention the Fed’s “supervisory staff” as part of the way that the Fed conducts monetary policy. The idea is that bank supervisors help to keep an eye on leverage and other risks in the financial sector, and that the FOMC uses that information when setting interest rates.

Citi: The mortgage underwriter’s tale

April 7, 2010

The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission is holding more hearings this week, and the prepared testimony of Richard Bowen, a former senior mortgage underwriter at Citigroup, is well worth reading.

Counterparties

April 7, 2010

Atlantic Media decides to pay ALL its interns, even last year’s, in response to NYT story — Daily Finance

Larry Summers and the revolving door

April 6, 2010

Joshua Green has a virtuoso piece of Kremlinology at the Atlantic today, concluding, as his headline puts it, that “Yes, Larry Summers is Leaving.” But if it’s true, where is he leaving to?

Art Capital made at least $16 million off Annie Leibovitz

April 6, 2010

What kind of interest rate do rich people pay when they borrow money? In the case of Annie Leibovitz, the answer is something over 44%. That’s the most interesting revelation from the latest court case to embroil the celebrity photographer, wherein a company called Brunswick Capital Partners says that it helped Leibovitz refinance her Art Capital Group debt with a $40 million loan from Colony Capital.

Charging for carry-ons

April 6, 2010

Airlines save money when their customers check bags rather than carry them on board the plane. How to encourage their customers to do just that? They don’t seem to be jumping at the idea of the negative bag-check fee. But how about charging money for carry-ons? Spirit Airlines has now announced it’s going to do just that: while a small carry-on which fits underneath the seat in front of you is fine, anything which requires stowing overhead is going to cost at least as much as that checked bag.

TheStreet stands up to Generex’s bullying

April 6, 2010

Well done to Adam Feuerstein and TheStreet.com for standing up to egregious bullying from Generex, a small and smelly Canadian biotechnology company which has just filed a ridiculous $250 million lawsuit against them for libel. (To put that number in context, it’s roughly twice Generex’s market cap.)