Felix Salmon

John Cassidy Watch, externalities edition

March 10, 2011

I’m beginning to think that John Cassidy must have a serious masochistic streak: he’s now back for a third round of smack-downs, after having drawn unanimous scorn for his first two attempts to demonize bike lanes.

Why debit fees should be low

March 10, 2011

Antony Currie has a handy little FAQ on debit interchange. I agree with most of it, especially his final conclusion that the US should move to a secure chip-and-pin system. But I take issue with his idea that for the time being, the Durbin amendment is flawed and “needs a do-over.”

Should you borrow against your house to buy stocks?

March 10, 2011

In the wake of my back and forth with Linda Stern, I took the advice of commenter Kid Dynamite and moved the discussion to email. Here’s how it went:

The NYT’s meter starts ticking

March 10, 2011

The NYT’s paywall isn’t live yet, but the meter’s already ticking. Go to the site’s new recommendations page, and you’ll see a sidebar which looks a bit like this:

How Foursquare improves on coupons

March 10, 2011

There is nothing shameful or embarrassing about saving money, and restaurants wouldn’t pay Groupon lots of money for the privilege of using its service if they didn’t want lots of people to come in and claim a discount. But still, it’s undeniable: there’s a faint whiff of cheap associated with any coupon, to the point at which some restaurants are implementing built-in gratuities to try to stop people from tipping on the discounted amount. And I have friends who are adamant that they’ll never use a groupon or anything like it, for fear of the perceived stigma involved.


March 10, 2011

What is the ratio of true statements to false statements in the official Spider-Man announcement? — Spider-Man

Sleazy for-profit educator of the day, Bridgepoint edition

March 10, 2011

Chris Kirkham has a fantastic story at HuffPo today about Ashford University, a small college in Iowa which was acquired for its accreditation in 2005 and is now the face of the billion-dollar for-profit education company Bridgepoint Education.

McKinsey’s corrupted culture

March 10, 2011

John Gapper makes a good point: management consultants in general, and McKinsey consultants in particular, have made their entire business out of exploiting the moral grey zone surrounding confidential information.

BofA doesn’t believe in treating borrowers fairly

March 9, 2011

Bank of America is setting up a bad bank, which will be run by Terry Laughlin. Roughly half of its 14 million mortgages are going to be carved off and put into the bad bank, in an attempt, according to FBR analyst Paul Miller, “to get investors focus on the good” and as “a way to talk about good things and ignore the bad.” The presentation which Laughlin handed out talks about how his new group will work on loan modifications for delinquent customers: “as borrowers default,” he said, “we’ll evaluate them for a loan modification.”