Felix Salmon

Algorithms vs retail investors

Anand Iyer, after reading the article I wrote in Wired with Jon Stokes, emails with a couple of questions:

What will replace unions?

Jim Surowiecki has an excellent column this week on the declining influence, and increasing unpopularity, of labor unions:

Fed profitability datapoint of the day

At the end of 2010, the Federal Reserve system had $2.423 trillion in assets and $2.367 trillion in liabilities, which means that the simplest measure of its total equity — assets minus liabilities — comes to $56.6 billion. The Fed also managed to earn net income of $80.9 billion in 2010. Which means that its return on assets was incredibly high at 3.3%, while its return on equity was an astonishing 143%.

Davos: Where epic shifts are converging

Chrystia and I differ on whether Davos is actually important. I say it isn’t, and Exhibit A is this invitation, which I received today. There will be many, many more like it arriving over the next couple of weeks:

FT Tilt: A blog behind a paywall

FT Tilt has now officially launched. Calling itself “a premium online financial news and analysis service focused exclusively on the emerging world,” it has a total staff of 12, including 8 reporters scattered around the world. Founded by Paul Murphy and Stacy-Marie Ishmael of FT Alphaville fame, it has so much blog in its look and feel and its DNA that it’s probably fair to call this the most ambitious paywalled blog in the world.

Counterparties

Peter Lattman on the market in “so-called gourmet cupcake shops” — NYT

Housing: The see-no-evil muddle-through approach

David Streitfeld reckons that if mortgage delinquencies continue to pile up without turning into foreclosure actions, that could be good for the economy as a whole:

How much is a law degree worth?

David Segal is the best writer on the NYT’s business desk, so it’s a good thing that he was chosen to pen today’s 5,000-word disquisition on the economics of law degrees. He’s taken a particularly dry subject and turned it into a compelling and accessible read; that’s no mean feat.