Felix Salmon


In a blatant publicity bid, Abercrombie & Fitch has offered to pay a “Jersey Shore” cast member not to wear their apparel. Ouch. That organization is like a publicly traded organization of Mean Girls. At least it received its comeuppance, losing more than 8% of its value.

It doesn’t matter where your kid goes to school

“The Elite Illusion”, a new paper from Atila Abdulkadiroglu, Joshua Angrist, and Parag Pathak, is causing quite a stir in the blogosphere today. (An ungated version is here; see commentary from Mathews, Yglesias, and Salam.)

Is the press to blame for pop-up restaurants?

My Gastronomics column today is about pop-up restaurants, and how they’re generally what Ryan Sutton would call a bad deal. Essentially, you take the amount of money you’d normally pay at a polished operation which spends a lot of money and effort on what the Zagat guide would call “decor and service”. And then you spend it on food alone, with little if any attention paid to the decor-and-service side of things.

Designing a national consumption tax

The US government, when it taxes individuals, taxes only what they earn, and not what they spend; this is one big reason why we have a gaping budget deficit. Every other developed country in the world has some kind of consumption tax, as indeed do many US cities and states. If the US is serious about getting its fiscal house in order, a consumption tax of some description is likely to be necessary.


Lots of good news today! Regulators still have no particular way to unwind big banks, while Bruce Bartlett argues that aggregate demand isn’t changing any time soon. The German economy, Europe’s best hope, is starting to get echt scheisse. And Texas governor Rick Perry thinks Ben Bernanke is “almost treasonous.” Thanks, Rick.

The dual-taxation meme

Warren Buffett’s op-ed on Monday calling for higher taxes for the very rich clearly touched a national nerve. Which is one reason there’s been a steady stream of arguments from the right explaining that in fact he’s wrong when he says that he pays much lower taxes than anybody who actually earns money from a job. And there’s one argument in particular which seems to be very popular.

How New York’s opera companies treat their fans

There’s an opera to be written here somewhere: a man devotes 15 years of of his life to an unpaid labor of love, and when he finally gets noticed by the object of his affections it’s when he’s told to go away and stop what he’s doing forthwith.

Annals of anonymous analysts, NYC real-estate edition

Back in April of 2010, Elizabeth Dwoskin of the Village Voice, with the help of two reporter/translators, put together an excellent 4,700-word article on the complex dynamics at 55 and 61 Delancey Street, in downtown Manhattan. There was a new landlord, Madison Capital, which was better than the old landlord, but was still harassing rent-controlled tenants. There was a lot of mutual incomprehension between the mostly-Chinese old tenants and the mostly-white new tenants paying market rate. And nobody really had a full grasp of the facts.


Warren Buffett called on Congress to tax the rich more heavily, which would include fellow richie Carl Icahn’s potential half-billion dollar capital gain in the Google-Motorola deal. Kudos to Staska for predicting that deal, by the way, though he low-balled how much the Goog was willing to shell out.