Felix Salmon

Making money off students, debit-card edition

October 4, 2010

This was probably inevitable: the minute that Dodd-Frank cracked down on the fees charged by credit cards aimed at students, some other bright financial innovation would crop up. This time, a debit card aimed at students. Which carries lots of fees. Ylan Mui reports that a company called Higher One has started signing up colleges around the country, taking on the burden of providing cash to students. In return, it gets lots of fees:

Blogonomics: Dealbreaker

October 4, 2010

Dealbreaker would be a very smart fill-in acquisition for the New York Observer. Bess Levin is already sharing bylines with Jessica Pressler, and the two of them working together at the same shop would be pretty unstoppable.

Explaining Carlos Slim’s $175 million NYT profit

October 4, 2010

Jay Rosen asks for an English translation of my calculation regarding the profit that Carlos Slim made on his NYT investment. It does get a bit complicated, but I’ll do my best.

How the subprime crisis hit blacks hardest

October 4, 2010

America’s minorities, it seems, can’t catch a break when it comes to housing. Before the subprime boom, they were much less likely than their white counterparts to be able to get a mortgage. Then, when the subprime boom started, they were much more likely to be sold a predatory mortgage.


October 4, 2010

Last year, CNN generated $500 million in profit, its best year ever — NYM (Also: why were both Klein and Zucker fired just after signing new contracts?)

Wall Street’s trolls

October 3, 2010

There are anonymous commenters on blogs like mine, and then there are the elite and sophisticated investors invited to join a conference call with Ireland’s finance minister. Which group would you think is better behaved? Silly question, really. It’s not even close:

Taking leave

October 3, 2010

I’m a month late to the debate about paid and unpaid leave, but I think there are a couple of points worth making which seem to have been missed. In general, I’m with Ezra on this one: paid leave is a good thing, and we should have more of it. And on a personal level I also agree with Reihan when he says that “unpaid vacation is a valuable perk”. Reuters has a mechanism for letting its employees take unpaid vacation when they run out of paid vacation days, and that was something I was very happy about when I joined.

How Carlos Slim made $150 million from the NYT

October 3, 2010

The New York Times is going to pay back the $250 million loan from Carlos Slim three years ahead of schedule. It’s very expensive debt, so it makes sense that it should be the first debt to be paid down. But this also turns out to have been a great deal for the Mexican billionaire, if you look at the terms of the deal.

ETFs aren’t derivatives

October 1, 2010

Herb Greenberg misreads the SEC flash-crash report, in an attempt to justify his silly claim that ETFs are derivatives. I agree with Herb that there are serious questions which should be asked about ETFs, especially ones which include small-cap stocks. You can’t turn an illiquid stock into a liquid stock just by throwing it into an ETF, and illiquidity is one of those things which goes hand-in-hand with volatility and attempts at price manipulation.