Felix Salmon

Kickstarter of the day, Flint-and-Tinder edition

If you want an example of Kickstarter-as-QVC which is extremely likely to fail, look no further than Flint and Tinder. The brainchild of one Jake Bronstein, the idea is to create a new company making boxer shorts in the USA. “It’s about more than underwear,” he says in the video. “It’s about redefining what it means to be Made in America.”

Can national statistics be self-fulfilling?

John Kemp has a timely reminder, in the wake of the news that the UK is now back in recession after posting a -0.2% GDP figure:

The problem with Marc Andreessen

2005-new.jpg It’s easy to see why Marc Andreessen is grinning on the front cover of Wired magazine this month. Inside, there’s an interview where he’s introduced as a “tenacious pioneer”, one of “our biggest heroes”, and someone who was so far ahead of the curve on his “five big ideas” that he had them “before everyone else”.

When is a scoop non-public information?

Many thanks to everybody who responded to my provocation yesterday, where I suggested that the NYT could sell advance access to its stories. John Gapper summed it up well, in a tweet: “If scoops don’t matter to most readers, as the digerati claim,” he said, it’s logical to sell them to those who do value them. Which, in this case, would be hedge-funds capable of front-running the news and making a profit when the news moves markets.

Counterparties: SIGTARP vs. Treasury

Welcome to the Counterparties email. The sign-up page is here, it’s just a matter of checking a box if you’re already registered on the Reuters website. Send suggestions, story tips and complaints to Counterparties.Reuters@gmail.com

Why Cooper Union can’t be trusted

Remember the murky finances of Cooper Union, which went from healthy to disastrous in no time at all? There’s a lot of controversy about what went wrong, where exactly the problems lie, and what’s the best way to fix them. But one thing’s abundantly clear: the management and trustees of Cooper Union have been unhelpfully opaque about the college’s finances for years, and the college’s students and alumni are fed up with the “trust us, we’ve worked it out this time” approach.

from Ben Walsh:

The Arab Spring: Tragic event, or unfortunate setback?

Re-reading can lead you to real gems. Going back over JPMorgan's annual letter to shareholders, I couldn't believe that the first time around I missed this quote in the third paragraph of the first page:

When credit cards go social

There’s a new credit card out there, called Barclaycard Ring, which manages the rare feat of being a good, solid financial product even as it’s also incredibly gimmicky. It’s being branded as “the first ever crowdsourced credit card” — a financial product “built on a community” which, by the looks of the stock photography on the website, is full of incredibly happy, healthy, outdoorsy types who live only in bright sunshine. You don’t just apply for this thing, you “join the conversation”.

Counterparties: Suddenly no one likes austerity

If you believe today’s host of reports, there’s been a sudden transformation in Europe. More than two years into a sweeping austerity project, European leaders are reportedly rethinking the idea that budget cutbacks can magically fix the continent’s dreary economy.