Felix Salmon

Why we shouldn’t subsidize construction

I’ve received some great feedback on my post on subsidizing construction loans, especially from Tom Lindmark, who points out that if you want a short-term jobs boost which doesn’t increase U.S. imports very much, then construction is a great area to subsidize. Lindmark cites Mike Mandel in support of his argument, which is always a good sign, but it’s worth noting that Mike kicks off his post by noting that he’s “never been a big fan of home construction as a driver of economic growth”. It’s a cheap high, and the hangover is always brutal.

The Bancrofts’ final WSJ capitulation

Remember the war over whether or not Rupert Murdoch would be able to buy the WSJ from the Bancroft family? Sarah Ellison has written the definitive account of the whole story, and now follows up with a couple of startling quotes from the Bancrofts who opposed the sale:

Marking bank loans to market

Should banks mark their loans to market? The issue — which flared up briefly at the height of the financial crisis, when everybody was wondering whether many of America’s largest banks were insolvent — is back in the headlines, thanks to FASB’s proposed rule change, which Tracy Alloway calls “mark-to-mayhem”.

The problems with university endowments

If you fancy some iPad reading for the Memorial Day weekend, you could do a lot worse than to download this Tellus paper into GoodReader or similar. It’s titled “Educational Endowments and the Financial Crisis: Social Costs and Systemic Risks in the Shadow Banking System; the lead author, who writes very clearly and readably, is Joshua Humphreys.


Ryan Avent sides with me over Matt DeBord on congestion pricing — Sustainable Cities

Is there any reason to subsidize construction loans?

Is Brad Miller — one of the most financially-sophisticated Congressmen in the House — really sponsoring a bill in which Treasury would provide loan guarantees for homebuilders? Calculated Risk responds as one might imagine:

The operations of Annie Leibovitz’s sophisticated advisor

Remember Art Capital Group’s lawsuit against Annie Leibovitz? It took pains to point out the sophistication of her advisors:

News consumers, paywalls, and useless tourists

John Gapper returns to the subject of newspaper paywalls today, saying that in the UK, Rupert Murdoch’s Times will have to appeal to a narrow elite if it is to succeed online — something Murdoch has never been comfortable doing. Going after a mass audience online is hopeless, he says, in the face of much lower-cost competitors like the Huffington Post:


“There is no economic reason for banks to insist on regular capital repayment” — Josh.sg