Felix Salmon

The twitchy, volatile stock market

August 12, 2010

I did my best to ignore the stock market fall today, but it was certainly important enough to grab the attention of Mohamed El-Erian, who has an interesting theory of why it happened:

Rebuilding HP’s board

August 11, 2010

One of the interesting things about the fall-out from Mark Hurd’s ouster at HP is that no one is happy with HP’s board. On the one hand, critics like Nell Minow, saying that Hurd “falsified his expense accounts in a tawdry series of incidents”, say the board should have fired Hurd for cause, rather than allowing him to resign. On the other side of the argument, Hurd defenders like James Stewart and Henry Blodget point out that Hurd was cleared of the sexual-harassment charges against him, and didn’t do his own expenses, which makes the claimed violation of HP’s Standards of Business Conduct hard to find.

A spinal-tap test for hedgies?

August 11, 2010

Financial services companies can take advantage of the cognitively weak in general, and the elderly in particular — especially elderly people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. More generally, people who want to be in full control of their finances today might well want to put in place protections which remove them from full control of their finances in future, if they know that they’re going to get Alzheimer’s.

Chart of the day: TIPS yields

August 11, 2010

Paul Krugman notes today that 5-year TIPS are trading with a negative real yield, which prompted me — with the help of the great Frank Tantillo — to navigate the Fed’s data download program to generate this. (Bigger version here.)

Why small-scale bike sharing won’t work

August 11, 2010

SoBi, short for social bicycles, is a gutsy startup trying to make bike-sharing more accessible by reducing the up-front infrastructure costs. Don’t create dedicated parking spaces: allow bikes to be parked anywhere. Don’t commission custom bicycles: design a gizmo which attaches easily to any bike instead. And store information in the cloud, allowing what I think is the smartest new idea of all: rather than paying contractors to move hundreds of bicycles every night from where they’re not wanted to where they are wanted, simply pay the bike riders themselves a bonus of a buck or two if they leave the bike in an area where they’re in high demand.

Internet dystopia of the day, Paul Graham edition

August 11, 2010

Paul Graham, one of the visionaries of the Internet’s early years, has a decidedly dystopian view of its future, and that of society itself:


August 11, 2010

Every point the VIX 10-yr implied volatility rises, Berkshire Hathaway loses another $280 million — Clavell

The rise of the unemployable underclass

August 10, 2010

David Leonhardt’s latest column is full of interesting employment datapoints. Among them:

Smart parking becomes a reality

August 10, 2010

I’m very excited that San Francisco has finally launched its new SFpark system. And I love their video introduction to it: