Felix Salmon

Bad investment of the day, life-insurance edition

You’ve heard of robo-signers. Now meet the robo-doctor:

Dr. Cassidy said Life Partners paid him a monthly retainer of $15,000, plus $500 for every policy bought by Life Partners clients. That translates to $270,000 annual pay for part-time work that has brought him more than $1.3 million since 2002, Life Partners confirmed.


“Heathrow’s snow team has been working for months to ensure the UK’s hub airport will once again be prepared for the onset of winter” — Google Cache of now removed press release

How HAMP modifications are escalated

After publishing my post this morning about the way disputes are resolved in HAMP, I went back and forth with Treasury a few times. And it turns out that there’s much more to it than the Homeownership Preservation Foundation — although finding out exactly how it all works is basically impossible unless you know someone at Treasury. Transparent this is not.

A fiscally-unified plan for European defaults

There are basically two ways that the European crisis might end up resolving itself. Either the peripheral countries start defaulting, or else the eurozone becomes a fiscal union as well as monetary union. Both are politically unacceptable, of course. And George Soros, in a lucid column today, reckons that both might be in the cards:

Beef of the day: Wallison vs Nocera

On Saturday, Joe Nocera aimed a well-deserved broadside at Peter Wallison, one of the Republican commissioners seemingly doing their best to scupper the work of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. He said that Wallison’s theory of the genesis of the financial crisis is “not, as they say, reality-based,” and noted Wallison’s idiosyncratic defense of his position:

How the mortgage industry polices HAMP

American Banker’s Kate Berry uncovers a stunning factoid today: the nonprofit Homeownership Preservation Foundation, the official body charged with resolving disputes over HAMP modifications, was founded by ResCap and to this day is run by GMAC and other finance officials from within the mortgage industry.

Are surgeons getting kickbacks from Medtronic?

The WSJ puts a lot of time and effort into its leders—those long, exhaustively-reported front-page exclusives about topics which might not be breaking news but which are still very important. So why is it that when a story is based on information found online, the WSJ still can’t seem to link to it? Today’s leder is a good one, about possible waste in the world of spinal surgery. But it could definitely do with a few hyperlinks:

Cuomo’s parting shot

Andrew Cuomo has decided, reports the WSJ, to file civil fraud charges against Ernst & Young in the waning days of his tenure as New York’s attorney general — news which has been received with delight by Yves Smith, on the grounds that it might strengthen a criminal case against Dick Fuld.