Felix Salmon

from Barbara Kiviat:

Congress forces Bank of America to offer better service

Remember back when the big banks were telling us that re-regulating consumer finance with legislation such as the CARD Act and Dodd-Frank bill would severely disrupt the banks’ business models, and lead to horrible outcomes for ordinary Joes? Well, in Bank of America’s event-packed earnings call this morning, executives laid out how, exactly, the company’s consumer finance business has been forced to change in response to the new regulatory environment. From the press release:

The BofA tail-risk discount

Here’s a chart of what tail risk looks like, in the stock market:


The thick blue line is Bank of America stock, hitting a new 52-week low today after reporting losses of $7.3 billion in the third quarter. The thin blue line is financial stocks generally, which are doing much better than BofA. And the thin red line is the S&P 500, which is significantly higher than it was this time last year.

Varley’s flexible views on Basel

In the UK, it seems, the revolving door from big private banks into a grandee’s public-sector role doesn’t turn quite as smoothly as it does in the U.S. And so sometimes it needs a not-so-gentle shove:

Client 9

The tag line of Client 9 , Alex Gibney’s new film about Eliot Spitzer, is “you don’t know the real story”. But the fact is that we do — or I did, at least.

from Justin Fox:

Apple’s day of earnings glory, iPad disappointment

Apple's earnings announcement this afternoon was something of an epic event. First, the company reported making a staggering amount of money: $4.3 billion in profit for the quarter. Second, Steve Jobs got on the phone and was even more obstreperously entertaining than usual. Third, iPad sales for the quarter were a bit lower than hoped and Apple's stock price dropped 6% in after-hours trading.

from Barbara Kiviat:

Is culture to blame for poverty?

Hello, Reuters readers. Thank you, Felix, for inviting me and Justin to guest blog while you're away. I promise to make the most of my newfound form of procrastination.

from Justin Fox:

Why didn’t people in finance pay attention to Benoit Mandelbrot?

Mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot was not one of those great thinkers who was ignored in his own time. He won lots of prestigious prizes. He wrote acclaimed books. He even gave two TED talks.

Getting the band back together

I’m a big fan of two-handed blogs: there aren’t very any of them, but the ones that there are tend to be fabulous. (Think 2 Blowhards, or About Last Night, or Ultimi Barbarorum, or, of course, Marginal Revolution.) Time.com’s Curious Capitalist blog started off as a one-hander, written by the great polymath Justin Fox (whose book, if you haven’t read it, can be bought here), but it really came into its own when Justin brought in Barbara Kiviat to co-blog with him.

The mortgage bond scandal FAQ

I’m going to be spending the next couple of weeks in South Africa, which means I’ll be off the grid (on a plane) for all of Monday, and less-than-fully online thereafter. I’ve invited the old team from the Curious Capitalist—Justin Fox and Barbara Kiviat—to help out with some guest-blogging, which I’m very excited about. But in the meantime, here’s a FAQ on the mortgage bond scandal to keep you tided over, since there seems to be a lot of confusion out there.