Felix Salmon

Why I’m playing the lottery

By Felix Salmon
March 20, 2012

Have you bought your lottery ticket yet? The jackpot’s up to $241 million!

Apple’s sensible dividend

By Felix Salmon
March 19, 2012

Historically I haven’t been a fan of people saying that Apple should start paying dividends. I didn’t like it when Jon Fortt pushed it in 2007, and I didn’t like it when Arik Hesseldahl had the same idea in 2008. (Although by that point I did concede that “a modest dividend, tied to profits, makes perfect sense”.) Fast forward to 2012, however, and I think that Apple’s announcement is a perfectly sensible one, and if anything overdue.

A top CDS trader quits the CDS market

By Felix Salmon
March 19, 2012

Ben Heller, a man who’s been trading CDS since before they were even called CDS, is out of the CDS market.

Did the market know about Apple’s announcement?

By Felix Salmon
March 19, 2012

On Tuesday March 6, Apple shares opened at $523.66. On Thursday March 15 — eight trading days later — they opened at $599.61. Which means that over the course of those eight trading days, the market capitalization of Apple increased by more than 70 billion dollars.

Fabulous journalism

By Felix Salmon
March 17, 2012

Blaine Harden’s astonishing account of the life of Shin In Geun — a man born into a North Korean prison camp, who has lived pretty much the worst life imaginable — has received significantly less attention than the fact that This American Life has retracted its story about working conditions at Foxconn, which was based on Mike Daisey’s monologue. (If you don’t want to listen to the hour-long retraction, which is a masterpiece of the form, the transcript is available here.)

When Wall Street captures Washington

By Felix Salmon
March 16, 2012

One of the themes running through Noam Scheiber’s new book is the idea that professional technocrats have a tendency to take at face value much of what they’re told by Wall Street. Bankers are very good at capturing/flattering mid-level political operatives, although admittedly they’re less good at it now than they were before the crisis.

Chart of the day: Growth and debt

By Felix Salmon
March 16, 2012

Greg Ip has a fantastic blog post on the subject of America’s GDP growth and the potential thereof. He’s talking about this chart:

What would happen to investment banks in a crisis?

By Felix Salmon
March 16, 2012

Sheila Bair has put her finger on the fundamental weakness of this week’s stress tests with a single statement:

Why banks will continue to rip off clients

By Felix Salmon
March 16, 2012

Frank Partnoy makes a great point: the word “client” has been over-used by investment banks so much that by this point it “has become Orwellian doublespeak”. But the problem is much deeper than one of semantics. When all counterparties are considered clients, then that creates a corporate culture where all clients are considered little more than counterparties. And that, in turn, can be evil and poisonous.