Felix Salmon

Why Bill Gross’s mistake is excusable

Commenter Stevensaysyes asks if I could reassess my take on Pimco’s Total Return Fund, given its underwhelming performance year-to-date. Always happy to take requests!

Do companies pay their CEOs more than they pay in taxes?

You might well have seen, this morning, the news that 25 of the 100 highest paid US CEOs earned more last year than their companies paid in federal income tax. The Reuters version of the story was linked to by the WSJ and retweeted by David Leonhardt; the NYT version already has 120 comments. Both versions, it seems, were based on embargoed copies of this report from the Institute for Policy Studies; because the reporters were given a copy of the report before it went up online, they were unable to link to it from their stories.

Justice makes the right decision on AT&T

The Justice Department’s official complaint seeking to stop AT&T from taking over T-Mobile minces no words:

Will AOL go private?

Some companies are in growth businesses; the stock market, as a rule, tends to love them. Other companies are in an inexorable secular decline; they tend to get punished by equity investors. There’s a good reason for that: stock-market investors are looking for stocks which go up over time, rather than stocks which are going to zero while paying out as much in dividends as they can along the way.

Counterparties

The bounty that law firms pay for a Supreme Court clerk is up to $280,000. That’s a lot of money: more than any of the justices make, but less than Warren Buffett, whose Chief of Staff has the best business card ever.

Why the Fed needs to lead on payments

The US is often so big and lumbering that it lags well behind the rest of the world in terms of adopting new technology. Cellphones were one such; chip-and-pin technology on debit and credit cards is another. And more generally, as a comprehensive new Chicago Fed paper from Bruce Summers and Kirstin Wells shows, the US is and will for the foreseeable future lag most of the rest of the planet when it comes to immediate funds transfer, or IFT.

Why can’t the cost of flood insurance rise?

Ben Berkowitz has a big report on the the National Flood Insurance Program — something which is a veritable bucket of fail. In a nutshell, it undercuts private insurers and therefore is the only game in town; it insures only a small minority of homeowners; and it loses gobs of money. In September 2005, the NFIP was $1.5 billion in hock to the federal government; that number has now ballooned to $21 billion, and is certain to rise further.

Greece datapoints of the day

Nikos Tsafos has a fantastic post at his Greek Default Watch blog entitled “Ten Surprising Facts about the Greek Economy”. I normally hate listicles, but this one’s very good. For instance: it’s bad enough that Greek GDP won’t go back to its 2008 peak for the best part of a decade. But it’s worse that the two big drivers of Greece’s economy — tourism and shipping — are down 28% and 27% respectively in real terms since 2000.

Steve Jobs’s philanthropy

Andrew Ross Sorkin takes a look at the private life of Apple’s chairman today, passing on rumors about activity he clearly doesn’t want publicized, in the face of stony silence from Apple. But hey, Sorkin’s a journalist, I guess that’s what journalists do.