My cunning plan to get my readers to do all the work for me in terms of finding graphs of the number of stocks listed on the NYSE and Nasdaq worked like magic! Here, from Second Market, is the chart for the NYSE:
One of the problems with Davos, and with ambitious conferences in general, is that all too often the subject of conversation becomes large and amorphous to the point of meaninglessness (“how to leverage leadership in a global economy”, or something like that). So well done to Henry Blodget, at the DLD conference in Munich, for taking his broadly-defined session (“Where is the Money?”) and focusing it with clarity and insight on the question of the disappointing market in IPOs, and the growing grey market in non-public securities.
Mark Gimein has an interesting analysis of the economics of Encore Capital Group, a company which buys up hundreds of thousands of busted credit cards and consumer loans for pennies on the dollar, then pushes them through assembly-line litigation to make a surprisingly small profit.
New York taxis are a textbook example of gains going to capital rather than to labor. They’re generally owned by one person — the person with the capital — and driven by another — the person with the labor. And the person with the capital has made out very well of late. When the stock market peaked in October 2007, medallions were trading at $425,000 apiece. (All data from this page.) By the time the market had plunged by more than half in February 2009, medallions had risen in value to $552,000. And they’ve only gone up in value since: in December 2010, the average medallion changed hands for $624,000; last Wednesday, a new all-time record was set for a corporate medallion which sold for $880,000.
Four years ago, I started pushing back against the idea that whenever the government fails to make good on some obligation or other, that’s exactly the same thing as a bond default. Of course it isn’t: bond payments are a very special form of government obligation, involving specific sums of money to be paid in a specific manner on specific days. If you fail to make such payments, you’re in default. If a government takes money from, say, the military-salaries pot and uses it to make its bond payments, then that’s a drastic way of avoiding default. It’s a broken promise, to the servicemembers in question. But it’s not a default.