Felix Salmon

Fannie Mae demonizes the victims of the housing bust

By Felix Salmon
June 24, 2010

When Fannie Mae got taken over by the US government, it became even more of an instrument of state policy than it was before. Today, Fannie Mae and its state-owned brethren (foremost among them Freddie Mac and the FHA) are responsible for funding the overwhelming majority of mortgages in the US: they essentially are the housing market, for most of us. So when it comes to the problems of default and foreclosure, it’s crucial that Fannie Mae be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Instead, it’s decided to get onto a self-defeating moralistic high horse.

Counterparties

By Felix Salmon
June 24, 2010

Germany’s finance minister defends its spending cuts — FT

Xan Brooks liveblogs Mahut-Isner — Guardian

Good idea: rating wines on how quickly they’re drunk — Dr Vino

BP: Now more evil than Goldman Sachs

By Felix Salmon
June 23, 2010

There will be rejoicing in the corridors of Goldman Sachs tonight: BP has finally overtaken it in the most-loathed company stakes! Yes, Goldman is still plumbing depths rarely seen in the modern era. But BP, even after putting aside $20 billion and grovelling to the president, continues to implode: it’s now hit a level of -47.6 in the latest BrandIndex poll. That’s not far from Toyota’s low point, which was -52.7 at the end of March, but it’s going to be a much harder fight back for BP than it was for Toyota.

When the SEC subpoenas journalists’ sources

By Felix Salmon
June 23, 2010

Henry Blodget, like all other right-thinking individuals, is appalled at the SEC recapitulating its David Einhorn let’s-shoot-the-messenger errors with its subpoena of 37,000 documents from Sam Antar. But at the same time, Blodget doesn’t seem concerned about the way in which the SEC has included emails to journalists among the documents it’s asking for:

Income tax loophole of the day

By Felix Salmon
June 23, 2010

Why would the government force consumers to pay someone else’s taxes — even when that person might not pay any taxes at all? The answer, of course, as it usually is in such cases, is regulatory capture, and in this case the regulator in question is the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Goldman presses the flesh

By Felix Salmon
June 23, 2010

Goldman Sachs was historically a bit like Bernie Madoff: both of them were successful partly because they were very good at playing hard to get. They both had sterling reputations, and both of them were wrapped in a certain amount of mystery.

Ireland’s dastardly new savings product

By Felix Salmon
June 23, 2010

A standard trick in the consumer-facing financial services industry is to appeal to people who are sure they’re going to have no liquidity or cashflow problems in the future, and then make lots of money off them when the inevitable crunches happen. Free checking, for instance, becomes extremely expensive checking when you overdraw your account; and people regularly buy items on their credit card intending to pay the statement off in full, but then fail to do so, incurring substantial interest payments not only on that one item but on everything else they bought that month as well.

Counterparties

By Felix Salmon
June 23, 2010

New quantitatively rigorous analysis of KIPP shows positive results — MPR

Gourmet magazine is coming back, online — Gourmet

“It was never our intention to misguide American citizens regarding the differences between the pig and the unicorn” — ThinkGeek

Competition in payments

By Felix Salmon
June 22, 2010

Adam Ozimek reckons that we need more competition in the payments space, and that interchange regulation is going to impede progress toward that goal: