Felix Salmon

Internet libel suit of the day

What is Charles Smith thinking? He’s the winemaker at K Vintners, where he makes very expensive wines, and occasionally shares them with bloggers such as Blake Gray. One blog entry on Smith and his wines produced some comments saying that he is more of a wine promoter than an actual winemaker. Smith’s assistant, Andrew Latta, responded in the comments with simplicity and anger:

Obama’s tax cut for the rich

Thank you, Jonathan Chait, for making an important point about the NYT’s silly story today on the subject of taxes and “the definition of rich”.

AIG’s positive valuation

Back in January, the bien-pensant received opinion was that AIG’s stock was worthless, and that the market was delusional in valuing the company at $26 billion. (See, for example, Jonathan Weil, Paul Smalera, and me.) The company’s debts to the US government were just too large, we all said, for there to be anything left over for shareholders.

Elizabeth Warren’s principles

Elizabeth Warren isn’t shy about taking sides in the debate between rules-based and principles-based regulation:


20-page paper on When Microfinance Goes Public — CGAP; see also the blog

Carl Paladino blows up, curses at, nearly fights NYP editor, plus report of a photog with broken ankle — NYDN

Otiose shareholder of the day, B&N edition

Steven Davidoff goes into lots of detail today on the close-run fight between Ron Burkle and Leonard Riggio for control of three board seats at Barnes & Noble. It was a nailbiter of a vote, and informed opinion had it that Riggio, B&N’s founder, was going to end up the loser, despite controlling a large chunk of the outstanding shares. After all, the most powerful shareholder advisory firm, Institutional Shareholder Services, favored Burkle — and big investors like Vanguard and BlackRock generally follow ISS’s lead.

Mutual fund datapoint of the day

The Bloomberg headline is pretty clear, at least by Bloomberg standards: “Fidelity Loses Top Mutual-Fund Spot to Bogle’s Indexing.” The news: Vanguard, the home of passive investing, now has more assets than Fidelity, the home of stock picking.

The Larry Summers view of airports

It doesn’t matter whether you fly private or whether you fly commercial: you still have to fly from an airport. Which clearly annoys the Obama administration’s top plutocrat, Larry Summers. Justin Fox was in Washington on Tuesday to hear Summers give a speech on the inadequacies of US infrastructure. And he came up with a truly classic example to make his point:

Mandating annuities in retirement

Dan Ariely had an interesting column in the latest issue of HBR, talking about how Chile forces its citizens to save money and annuitize their pensions: