Felix Salmon

Regulatory failure datapoint of the day, Citigroup edition

I can highly recommend Nick Dunbar’s new book on the financial crisis; I’ll have a full review of it soon, but for the time being let’s just say that for my money it’s the best crisis book so far. Fair, detailed, unsparing, and — most importantly — written by someone who was reporting on the structured-products market all the way through the boom, instead of just looking back after the bust and asking what happened.

US export du jour: Korean entrepreneurs

South Korea, by rights, should be an entrepreneurial paradise. It’s rich, and growing fast, and well-educated, and urban, and open, and has the best IT infrastructure in the world. But it’s also very conservative, as Max Chafkin reports:

Adventures with coordinated statements, central banking edition

If six different central banks coordinate a big liquidity operation, you end up with six different press releases, from the Bank of Canada, the Bank of England, the Bank of Japan, the European Central Bank, the Swiss National Bank, and the Federal Reserve.

No dividend, no worries

Karl Smith made a funny point in response to my post about Apple’s falling p/e ratio: since Apple’s not returning any money to shareholders in the form of dividends or buybacks, he says, shareholders aren’t getting any return on their investment.


Some of today’s many stories from Counterparties.com. Now with extra underlinks! Check it out.

Ticket pricing datapoints of the day

A few ticketing datapoints from recent news coverage:

    The Leonardo show at the National Gallery in London is sold out through the end of its run, in February, with ticket prices at £16 ($25) apiece. Some sites are offering the tickets for resale at as much as £300, but the National Gallery says that if you have a resold ticket, you won’t get in. Christie’s is selling tickets at $30 apiece (plus tax) to see the collection of Elizabeth Taylor before it goes up for sale on December 13. Broadway shows are nearly all using variable pricing now, with tickets to see Hugh Jackman costing as much as $350 each, while tickets to The Book of Mormon are currently $477 apiece. Thanks partly to such tactics, Spider-Man set a new box-office weekly record for the Foxwoods Theater last week, bringing in $2,070,196. (Back in December, Catherine Rampell said that under a “best-case scenario”, the musical could gross $1,646,991 in a week.)

Rampell’s not wrong on an average basis: Spider-Man is typically grossing something less than $1.5 million a week. But what really interests me about this chart is its volatility:

Hank Paulson’s inside jobs

What on earth did Hank Paulson think his job was in the summer of 2008? As far as most of us were concerned, he was secretary of the US Treasury, answerable to the US people and to the president. But at the same time, in secret meetings, Paulson was hanging out with his old Goldman Sachs buddies, giving them invaluable information about what he was thinking in his new job.


Is it cheaper for Germany to bail out EU countries rather than leave the euro? — Washington Post

Jed Rakoff’s fraught decision

Jed Rakoff’s decision to block the proposed $285 settlement between the SEC and Citigroup is very welcome, but also raises all manner of questions about what might happen next.