Felix Salmon

The road to cognition

By Mark Dow
The opinions expressed are his own.

European policymakers came to the IMF meetings in Washington in a defensive mode; some defiant, some with their tails between their legs. Once in Washington, it only got worse. Policymakers from around the world and investors of all stripes lined up to administer verbal beatings. Warnings of cascading default, global depression and bank runs echoed throughout the meeting rooms. Thankfully, by the weekend’s end, the message sank in, and Europe emerged with the beginnings of an agreed plan.

How macroeconomic statistics failed the US

There’s one big reason why the current economic weakness in the US has come as such a shock. It’s not the only reason, but it’s an important one, and it hasn’t gotten nearly the attention it deserves: the state of macroeconomic data-gathering in the US is pretty weak.

Is Alessio Rastani a Yes Man?

If you look at his blog, his Twitter account, and his interview with Forbes, not to mention his notorious BBC interview, it’s pretty clear that Alessio Rastani is, at least in part, who he says he is. The Yes Men do set up elaborate hoaxes, but they do so with respect to large institutions: they wouldn’t put this much effort into inventing “Alessio Rastani” out of whole cloth. Mostly because there are lots of genuine traders like Alessio Rastani floating around the internet already. They trade their own money, they sometimes win and they sometimes lose, and they aspire to getting famous on the internet and selling their own trading advice.

Counterparties

Treasuries due in 10 years or more have returned 28% this year — Bloomberg

China’s economy is still growing, but social unrest is way up — WSJ

Meanwhile, in the U.S., property crime has decreased in proportion to GDP losses — Economist

Notes on Groupon

I’m in Sofia today, where I gave a talk on Groupon at the DigitalK conference. This post isn’t the speech that I gave, which was much shorter and more conversational; the slides I used are here.pdf. There’s not much new in this post, for those who have been following what I’ve written on Groupon over the past few months; I basically wrote it to get a feel for how I wanted my speech to flow. But here you go anyway.

Cracking down on job-candidate credit checks

Last week, the California legislature sent the governor a bill that would ban most employers from running credit checks on job applicants. If the governor signs the bill into law (which this web site tells us he’s likely to), California will become the biggest get yet for those pushing for such laws around the nation. Is this just what a country full of unemployed people with wrecked credit needs? Or is it, as HR managers have been hollering, a way of hindering them from finding good, upstanding workers?

Counterparties

Gold and silver had a “historically awful” week — WSJ Marketbeat

The HP board fiasco continues

In case Joe Nocera didn’t persuade you that HP’s board was pretty much the worst in corporate America, his replacement as Saturday business columnist, James Stewart, will probably manage to do the job:

Counterparties

Employment for those under 30 is at its lowest levels since World War II — AP