Felix Salmon

A vision of gloom and chaos

Just in time for the new year, Ian Bremmer and Nouriel Roubini have delivered a 4,000-word thumbsucker on the global political economy. Essentially, they take Mohamed El-Erian’s idea of a “new normal” and start getting very specific about where and how it’s going to fall apart. And it’s hard to disagree with things like this:

Counterparties

Scarborough and Kinsley to write for Politico — NYT

Find out what is “the greatest diva moment of all time” — Awl

Mandelman’s a fan of American Homeowner Preservation — ML-implode

WSJ vs NYT, Taiwan-style — YouTube

Some vegetable oils have a bigger footprint than animal fats, and vegan farming means the large-scale killing of animals — Guardian

Basel III: The compromise

Maybe 9% was too good to be true after all. According to David Walker, of Australia’s Banking Day, a compromise with “nations including Germany, France, Italy and Japan” has knocked 0.5% off the proposed Tier 1 capital requirements, and another 0.5% off the proposed conservation buffer. As a result, banks wanting to pay dividends are now going to have to have a minimum of 8% Tier 1 capital, rather than 9%.

Can you launder money through black hotels?

John Le Carré has a new book out, Our Kind of Traitor, which stars a big-deal Russian money launderer called Dima. There’s not actually all that much on the mechanics of money laundering, but this would be rather clever, I think, if it actually worked:

The power and serendipity of Google Instant

Tyler Cowen has yet to make up his mind about Google Instant: it’s fun, he says, “but I find it distracting and it will lose me time in serendipitous diversions”.

Is it possible for the government to reduce unemployment?

There was a reasonably interesting call today between various bloggers and Jason Furman, an economic policy wonk at the White House. The main message was that the Obama administration’s new economic-stimulus proposals were essentially ways of front-loading attempts to create long-term economic growth, and that unemployment would come down as and when that growth arrived.

Why Greece won’t turn itself around

If you haven’t yet read Michael Lewis’s fantastic piece on Greece, you should really carve out some time to do so. It’s almost impossible to summarize, but suffice to say that it serves as an utterly convincing and highly entertaining 11,500-word rejoinder to the IMF’s bullish case that Greece can somehow avoid default.

No reason to be optimistic about house prices

David Leonhardt has delivered yet another excellent housing column, full of sharp insights and careful thinking. The key concept in the piece is the distinction between the idea that houses rise with incomes, on the one hand, and the idea that they rise with inflation, on the other. If house prices generally rise with inflation, as Bob Schiller thinks, then they have quite a ways further to fall. On the other hand, if they rise with incomes, then they’ve already mean-reverted.

Counterparties

Michael Lewis on Greece — VF

The politics of Basel III — IPE@UNC

“The only drivers likely to look first are those who have doored a cyclist some time in the recent past” — Riding to Win