Felix Salmon

Counterparties

Among television news outfits, the UK’s Sky News and its correspondent Alex Crawford absolutely owned the arrival of Libyan rebels in Tripoli over the weekend. Here’s how they did it. Speaking of a scramble in Libya, oil companies from nearly every major country are about to start fighting for a share of Libya’s new oil production deals.

How to get $12 billion of gold to Venezuela

Ever since the news broke last week that Hugo Chávez wanted to transport 211 tons of physical gold from Europe to Caracas, I’ve been wondering how on earth he possibly intends to do such a thing.

Where Haiti’s money has gone

What happens when you drop billions of dollars onto a country like Haiti? Immediately after the earthquake happened, in January 2010, I said that “one of the lessons we’ve learned from trying to rebuild failed states elsewhere in the world is that throwing money at the issue is very likely to backfire”. But that’s exactly what we did — with predictable results.

Why the bank-settlement talks are likely to drag on indefinitely

Today brings dueling stories in the NYT and the WSJ on the status of the bank foreclosure-settlement talks. At issue is the question of whether the banks should be given immunity with respect to lawsuits surrounding their securitization shenanigans. Here’s the WSJ, saying quite clearly that they won’t:

Why a lighter bike doesn’t make you faster

I’m very late to Jeremy Groves‘s wonderful little paper where, using himself as a subject, he timed his bike commute on a heavy steel bike and on a much lighter carbon bike. After riding 1,520 miles back and forth from Sheffield to Chesterfield Royal Hospital and carefully timing every journey, he came to an inescapable conclusion: the lighter bike wasn’t any faster than the heavier one. And this on a long journey where small differences would, you would think, add up: the round-trip commute was 27 miles long, with 2,766 feet of total ascent. That’s the kind of uphills where saving 9lbs of bike makes a real difference.

The stupid complexities of the tax code

James Stewart, on Saturday, looked at the narrow issue of how to tax carried interest, and made the very good point that it’s really just a small part of the much broader issue raised by the fact that we tax capital gains at a much lower rate than earned income:

Counterparties

It appears Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in Libya has more or less fallen. Right now, I’m thinking about Mahdi Ziu (from this great April Times article on the Libyan revolution), and wishing that Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros were taking pictures in Tripoli today.

Chart of the day, Swiss franc edition

EURCHF-vol-surface-082211.png

This chart comes from Eric Burroughs, who calls it “one of the best gauges for showing the extreme nervousness over what the endgame really is in Europe”. But I’m assuming here that you’re not the kind of person who looks at FX volatility surfaces on an everyday basis, so it might be worth a little bit of explanation.

The global crisis of institutional legitimacy

While watching another Arab government get toppled on Sunday evening — this time that of Muammar Gaddafi, in Libya — I was also reading George Magnus’s excellent note for UBS, entitled “The Convulsions of Political Economy”; you can find it chez Zero Hedge.