Felix Salmon

Auto dealers vs Treasury, part 322

Jim Surowiecki didn’t even scratch the surface when it comes to the power of auto dealers in general and Big Three auto dealers in particular. They’re grossly inefficient, as this chart from Monday’s SIGTARP report on them shows.

Will wine ever be democratic?

My latest wine column is up, and because I couldn’t do it there, I’d like to send out a big thank-you to Mike Veseth, whose post I drew liberally from both for quotes from Thomas Pinney and for its central idea.

Unemployment chart of the day

Chart of the day comes from Derek Thompson:

median longterm unemployment.png

The dynamics here are terrible, of course, because there are five unemployed people for every job opening. In that kind of context the only way that this chart is going to start reverting to the mean is if millions of Americans simply give up looking for work at all, and therefore stop counting as unemployed for the purposes of these statistics. The ranks of the demoralized are growing fast — but, clearly, not enough to stop the median period of unemployment rising inexorably past the 6-month mark.

Banking: Can small beat big?

Whither small banks? Matt Goldstein has a big story today about the large number of private-equity shops and other financial investor chomping at the bit to acquire small banks — and the way in which they’re so far being rebuffed by the FDIC and other regulators.

Goldman Sachs starts looking human

Steve Eder reports on Goldman’s earnings:

Second-quarter net income was hurt by several one-time charges, including a $550 million settlement of civil fraud charges brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission and a $600 million expense related to a UK tax on bank executive bonuses.

Elizabeth Warren’s nomination

The question of who will be Barack Obama’s nominee to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has now been clearly framed: either it’s going to be Elizabeth Warren, or it isn’t. That’s how Damian Paletta sees it, that’s how Simon Johnson sees it, and that’s certainly how the Progressive Change Committee sees it: they’re up to 138,485 people and counting on their petition to put Warren in charge.

Vine Talk: Enjoying wine for pleasure, not price

By Felix Salmon

(Felix Salmon is a U.S.-based financial journalist and a Reuters blogger here. The opinions expressed are his own.)

Counterparties

Mexican savings accounts have negative real interest rates. Affordable!– Center for Financial Inclusion

CNBC embarrasses itself on counterfeiting

The people at CNBC never got back to me when I asked to talk to them about their counterfeiting documentary, and now that I’ve seen the trailer, I can see why: it gobbles uncritically all of the baseless statistics that I’ve been railing against since 2004.