Felix Salmon

Davos’s status levels

Here’s my infographic on the badges at Davos, put together with the invaluable help of Alex Leo and Juno Lee.

Greece’s game plan

Greek prime minister Lucas Papademos gave an important interview to the NYT on Monday night. Think for a minute about the natural fractiousness of bondholders, and then read this:

Don’t send Summers to the World Bank

Please, Barack, don’t do it! Hans Nichols is reporting today that Larry Summers wants to be the next head of the World Bank — no surprise there — and that Barack Obama is thinking of nominating him. It’s a dreadful idea.

Will fact-checking go the way of blogs?

Lucas Graves has by far the best and most sophisticated response to NYT ombudsman Arthur Brisbane’s silly question about “truth vigilantes”.

Greece’s endgame looms

The big deadline in Greece is March 20 — that’s when the country has a €14.4 billion bond maturing that it can’t afford to repay. So Greece and its creditors are playing chicken with each other right now. Both want to do a deal, which would involve a cash payment of about 15 cents on the euro being paid out by a rescue committee comprising the EU, the IMF, and the ECB. Existing bondholders would get shepherded into new debt which would be worth less than the old debt but at least would remain current, while Greece would avoid the parade of horribles associated with a “hard default”, with its banks retaining access to funding from the international community in general and the ECB in particular.

Suze Orman’s conflicts

I had a memorable conversation on Monday with Suze Orman and Kim Bishop, the face and president respectively of the new Approved Card prepaid debit card. I had quite a few questions for them, and they did answer them, even if at times I did feel as though we were speaking at cross purposes.

For-profits vs not-for-profits

When Mitt Romney started plugging his friend’s for-profit university as a solution to the problem of rising higher-education costs, he was surely doing well by a major campaign donor, while giving pretty bad advice to potential students: no one should enroll in an $81,000 21-month program in “video game art” if it has — as this one does — a graduation rate of just 38%.

ATM charge of the day, Holiday Inn edition

Paul Volcker likes to say that the only worthwhile financial innovation of the past 20 years has been the ATM. So I suppose it was only a matter of time before that, too, was rendered evil.

The Fear Index

I tend to find fictionalizations of high finance disappointing. I wasn’t a huge fan of Margin Call: it seemed to me oversimplistic and often quite silly in its portrayal of a how a bank like Lehman Brothers operates. And Adam Haslett’s hugely ambitious novel Union Atlantic was worse. In both cases, a series of senior bankers behaved in ways that senior bankers simply wouldn’t ever behave in reality.