Felix Salmon

How Larry Summers hobbled Obama’s economic policy

I love myself a brutal takedown, and Jason Linkins’s evisceration of Peter Baker’s big NYT Magazine story on Obama’s economic policy is a classic of the genre. Except, I have to admit to being Team Baker on this one. We’ve all read a lot of stories about the economy, and what bad shape it’s in, and how we got to this sorry place. This one’s different. It’s written by the NYT’s White House correspondent, and it raises an uncomfortable question: what if part of the problem is that Obama’s economic team just wasn’t a good team? What if, in fact, it turns out to have been a very bad team?

Top tips from Davos spouses

Just as the most interesting sessions at Davos are the ones you know the least about beforehand, the most interesting people tend to turn out to be the ones you’ve never heard of. If you do happen to find yourself talking to Bill Clinton or Bono or Dmitry Medvedev, you’ll probably be part of a large crowd of people and the conversation is likely to be superficial at best. On the other hand, if you just sit down on a random couch in the Congress Center, there’s a really good chance that sitting next to you will be a fascinating and very useful person to know.

Goldman’s monster financial-crisis pay award

Dealbook and Footnoted — the very epitome of professional financial blogs — have collaborated in a big investigation of Goldman Sachs’s regulatory filings and partnership documents. The investigation seems to have turned up some pretty juicy stuff, but I’m not a fan of how the results were presented.

Unemployment datapoints of the day

The Gallup global employment data are out, and there’s a huge amount of meat here, including this unemployment map:


The origin of white Zinfandel: “Oh, my God, it’s got a pink tinge to it, and it’s too sweet.” — Dr Vino

Adventures in market reporting, part 492

European stocks went up today, and European bonds went down. That happens, sometimes. But there was lots of news floating around about a possible eurozone rescue fund, which resulted in stock-market reports saying that stocks went up “as euro zone finance ministers inched towards improving a rescue fund”, while the bond-market reports said that bonds fell “after the Dutch finance minister said the Eurogroup had rejected enlarging a rescue fund for the region’s more indebted states”.

Should Seeking Alpha’s authors start getting paid?

Kid Dynamite emails with a question about whether he should sign up for Seeking Alpha’s new premium program:

Don’t buy index annuities

Lisa Gibbs has a great article on index annuities in Money magazine (HT: TFF). The short version: don’t buy them, and don’t let your parents buy them.

Why Europe’s periphery should restructure their bonds

The drumbeat for debt restructurings on Europe’s periphery is becoming too loud to ignore. The Economist has now come out strongly in favor; its leader gives the strongest case for biting the bullet now. And Mohamed El-Erian has now officially signed on: