Felix Salmon

How the public sees microfinance

In the wake of demonstrations protesting the ouster of Muhammad Yunus from Grameen Bank, the US publicity machine is gearing up, with a “special theatrical event” (Robert De Niro! Matt Damon! Suze Orman!) scheduled for March 31. Judging by the trailer, it’s going to be full of fluff, not particularly timely, and will concentrate mainly on the minuscule Grameen America — which has currently raised $275.40 towards building its first branch.


Paul Amery on the spike in Japanese ETF bid-offer spreads following the tsunami — Index Universe

More worries about companies staying private

It’s not just me worrying about the implications of fewer companies going public. Tim Geithner thinks the same way:

The Fed’s 1-cent-a-share dividend cap

Antony Currie wants a bit more clarity on why the Federal Reserve seems to be happy with Bank of America paying a dividend of 1 cent per quarter, but unhappy with a dividend of 5 cents per quarter. “It’s not clear,” he writes, “whether the Fed is worried about BofA’s core earnings falling short or about potential losses being higher than the bank projected, to pick a couple of possible concerns.”

The government’s narrow anti-bank suits

Liz Rappaport reports that the NCUA is getting tough with Goldman Sachs and other banks which sold corporate credit unions billions of dollars of toxic mortgage-backed securities:


Berkeleyside axed from Google News — Davos Newbies

Truth is stranger than fiction: wasn’t a boring version of this story a subplot of Franzen’s Freedom? — Rolling Stone

How the NYT paywall could turn out to be a success

There’s one aspect of the NYT paywall which hasn’t got as much attention as it deserves — and that’s the idea that the NYT will be able to charge higher CPMs for ads behind the paywall than it currently gets for ads on a free site. Gordon Crovitz, the former publisher of the WSJ who now has a paywall product of his own, points out that if people pay for a subscription, that’s an excellent indicator of the “engagement” that advertisers and agencies are looking for. As a result, he says, publishers can charge a CPM premium of about 30% for behind-the-paywall pageviews.

The downside of companies staying private

I had a pretty involved Twitter conversation with TED today on the implications of the fact that fewer companies are going public. We’re both agreed that from a corporate-finance perspective, the trend makes perfect sense: the all-in cost of private equity is lower than the cost of going public. (For reasons why that might be the case, see here or here for starters.) But broadly speaking, from a public-policy perspective, is this a good thing or a bad thing? My thesis is that it’s a bad thing.


Interesting use of the Groupon strategy: offer a $50 coupon for a place where the average check is surely much lower — OpenTable