Felix Salmon

The IMF worries about international banks

photo.jpgThe IMF held its first-ever blogger meet-up on Friday, with PR honcho Caroline Atkinson, first deputy managing director John Lipsky, and various other Fund types sitting rather formally around a big table at IMF headquarters in Washington. “The discussion here is on the record, because I’ve been told that bloggers don’t do on-background,” said Atkinson — which made for an interesting contrast with how they do things at Treasury.

For-profit colleges’ increasingly desperate tactics

Back in June, it was very puzzling why Tom Matzzie, the former Washington director of MoveOn.org, would be waging a campaign against Steve Eisman and other people who are exposing the abuses of the for-profit college industry. Now Mike Elk has uncovered what many of us suspected at the time:

Whither the bank tax?

Remember the Financial Crisis Responsibility Fee? It seemed like a great idea at the time, raising money for Treasury while at the same time acting as something of a too-big-to-fail tax which would help give banks a disincentive to grow too big or to move away from a stable deposit-based funding base.

Counterparties

Spaghetti tacos expert Robert Thompson has been interviewed by 78 different NYT reporters — NYTpicker

Explaining the AIG exit

Andrew Ross Sorkin’s column today is entirely based on what he learned talking to Jim Millstein, the chief restructuring officer at Treasury, who seems to be very happy to talk now that he’s officially announced Treasury’s plan to exit its investment in AIG. I spoke to him for 70 minutes this afternoon, and now have a much clearer idea of how Treasury is thinking, how its math works, and why there’s a disconnect between Treasury and critics like Kid Dynamite.

Report report report, Potash edition

If you want to hone your financial-media reading skills — if you want to be an active, critical reader of the financial press — then here’s an exercise for you: find an important study of some kind which has been reported in many different places. Read the study, and then read the different stories reporting on it. Then, ask yourself about the degree to which the reports accurately sum up the contents of the study. The result is what I like to call a report report report, and it’s a great way of keeping readers alert.

Counterparties

On the evolution of Las Vegas-Los Angeles U-Haul rates — MR

Why are people happy to pay more for the e-book than for the hardback? You ever try reading a 1,008-page hardback? — NYT

Sorkin’s AIG math

Andrew Ross Sorkin talks to Treasury’s Jim Millstein and makes a valiant attempt to explain the AIG deal, explaining step by step how the company’s debt to the government is going to be repaid. But I’m afraid I still don’t understand it. Especially not this bit:

Inside Job

One of my dreams in life has long been to have the opportunity to sit down opposite Larry Summers or Bob Rubin, with video cameras rolling, and ask one of the key players in the financial crisis some tough on-the-record questions about the degree to which he’s responsible for it. This is the kind of interview which can only be done on video, which captures evasions and non-answers and general oily shiftiness in a way that no print journalist ever could.