Felix Salmon

The small, light, fill-in blog

October 21, 2011

I’ve been saying for a while that blogs are dead — certainly the one-person, one-voice blog, and also the big splashy expensive blog launched by a new or old-media company. Both I think had their heyday a few years ago. But as bloggish tendencies get incorporated into the broader news business, and as the sharing-and-linking part of the blogosphere moves to social media, something quite encouraging is happening: media organizations are finding it easy to set up small, light blogs which they’re not particularly invested in.

The murky world of student-loan statistics

October 21, 2011

I got some very interesting responses to my post on Wednesday about the total amount of student loans outstanding — and I’ve learned a lot about the limitations of official statistics as a result.

Why taxi medallions cost $1 million

October 21, 2011


What on earth is going on with the price of taxi medallions in NYC? Two of them just sold for $1 million apiece — that’s a 42% increase just since August, when conventional wisdom had it that $705,000 was a top tick and that medallions would soon plunge in value.

Abolish the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage!

October 21, 2011

File under “Republican ideas which are actually rather good”:

Congressional Democrats remain strongly committed to the 30-year fixed-rate loan, which protects homeowners against a rise in interest rates. But some Republicans, who want to scale back the government’s role in the housing market, have growing doubts about the taxpayer-subsidized loan product.

The Groupon roadshow

October 21, 2011

Here’s something I haven’t seen before: an IPO roadshow appearing online for the world to see. (Click the link on the left; the link on the right basically just takes you to a copy of Groupon’s S-1.) In fact, I’ve never seen an IPO roadshow pitch before. They’re boring! And, they feature senior executives looking uncomfortable wearing ties in front of a dark-grey background, talking to slides!


October 20, 2011

Germany and France still can’t agree on how to leverage the EFSF — Reuters

The EU considers issuing a temporary ban of sovereign credit ratings — WSJ

Don’t expect a repeat of America’s six-year “productivity miracle” — Bloomberg

Is the SEC colluding with banks on CDO prosecutions?

October 20, 2011

Is the SEC colluding with Wall Street’s biggest banks to let them off lightly with respect to their dodgy CDOs? Jesse Eisinger and Jake Bernstein get an astonishing on-the-record admission today, from a Citigroup flack, that might indeed be the case:

BofA puts taxpayers on the hook for Merrill’s derivatives

October 20, 2011

Bloomberg had a story, a couple of days ago, about BofA moving Merrill Lynch derivatives to its retail-banking subsidiary. The story was quite long and hard to follow: there were lots of detours into explanations of what a derivative is, or explorations of what the BAC stock price was doing that day. So let me try to cut away the fat.

Citi’s Abacus

October 20, 2011

It’s worth reading the full SEC complaint in the case which was settled by Citigroup yesterday for $285 million. For anybody familiar with Goldman’s Abacus deal, it all rings very familiar; in fact, the wording on the Abacus sign can be applied perfectly accurately to Class V Funding III. It’s worth rehearsing in full: