Felix Salmon

Counterparties

September 12, 2011

Carol Bartz is off the Yahoo! Board, and $10 million richer. — All Things D

The Pittsburgh metropolitan area is one of the country’s least diverse. — Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

When composers can’t hear their own compositions

September 11, 2011

Nico Muhly has a fantastic rant about the way in which professional orchestras make it effectively impossible for composers to actually listen to their own pieces, after they’ve been played; the most pungent comment on his post comes from fellow composer Jeff Harrington, who says that he’s never heard a piece that he wrote for two great musicians who have played it 30 times.

Counterparties

September 10, 2011

Remember to check out Counterparties.com, which has all the following stories, plus many more.

Anthony Scaramucci’s sleazy sales pitch

September 9, 2011

Edward Robinson has a fabulous profile of Anthony Scaramucci today. Scaramucci is a master of self-promotion; in the secretive world of hedge funds, he stands out as the guy who will spend whatever it takes to get noticed.

The jobs plan

September 9, 2011

I’m not a fan of the kind of political rhetoric that Barack Obama employed for much of his speech last night. “Pass this jobs bill” is not exactly “tear down this wall.” And at the risk of getting nitpicky, it’s difficult to say that “America can be number one again” and “America will be number one again” towards the end of the speech, only to finish with the assertion that “America remains the greatest nation on Earth”: my reaction was “wow, that was quick.”

Counterparties

September 9, 2011

Obama’s address to Congress — Whitehouse.gov

Americans still prefer to have male bosses — Gallup

92% of Afghan men ages 15 to 30 have never heard of 9/11 — WSJ

Economists call Romney’s economic growth projections “a stretch” — NYT

BofA’s CEO has a t-shirt in his office that reads: “Grind Together, Shine Together” — Businessweek

In favor of wholesale mortgage refinance

September 8, 2011

David Wessel and Shahien Nasiripour have similar reactions to the CBO paper on the costs and benefits of a wholesale mortgage refinance. Both of them say the effect of such a scheme would be pretty small, especially when you take into account the fact that the government would lose $4.5 billion, and private investors another $13-15 billion, in prepayment losses. Here’s Shahien:

What does Google want with Zagat?

September 8, 2011

Why is Google buying Zagat, a company which has failed miserably online, rather than, say, Yelp or Tripadvisor? I suspect a lot of the reason has to do with its pseudoscientific ratings, on a 30-point scale: Google loves being able to quantify stuff. But those ratings are silly: they’re not at all comparable between markets (try a sushi joint in Long Island and then compare it to one in New York City with an identical food rating), and they suffer from enormous inflation.

The Swiss National Bank plays the FX options market

September 8, 2011

Eric Burroughs has a fabulous scoop today: the Swiss National Bank isn’t just buying euros at a rate of 1.20 Swiss francs to the euro. (If that was all it was doing, in fact, it would yet to have spent any money at all: the exchange rate hasn’t hit that level since the announcement.) Instead, or as well, the SNB is intervening aggressively in the FX options market. And not the plain-vanilla exchange-traded options market, either: the SNB seems to have been a huge seller of forward volatility agreements — essentially taking a massive short position in the volatility of the euro/Swissie exchange rate.