Felix Salmon

Counterparties: America’s worst long-term trends

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Apple’s strategy of built-in obsolescence

Ross Miller made a good point about Apple’s new flagship laptop, in his review for the Verge. Once you take into account that it has a solid-state drive, it’s actually not nearly as expensive as you might think.

from Ben Walsh:

Green finance datapoint of the day, BofA edition

Bank of America has joined Goldman Sachs in making a new commitment to clean energy. BofA is making a $50 billion dollar 10-year plan, which is $10 billion more than Goldman over the same time frame, so it wins the headline arms race. But BofA's announcement shares the same faults as Goldman's. (Full disclosure: I used to work in the Goldman's Environmental Markets Group, which in part set and tracked the firm's green initiatives).

Don’t worry about Target2

Moody’s just slashed Spain’s credit rating three notches — a clear sign that the bank bailout, even though it hasn’t happened yet, is being seen in the markets as decidedly deleterious for Spain’s creditworthiness. Spain’s 10-year bond yield is now 6.75%, up from less than 5% in early March, and approaching the levels at which market access shuts down entirely. Worries over the future of the euro are back — and, like clockwork, whenever those worries appear, people start talking about Target2.

Counterparties: A guide to Jamie Dimon’s stroll on Capitol Hill

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Wall Street’s preference for low-priced stocks

Three weeks ago, Alex Tabarrok found an intriguing post by high-frequency trader Chris Stuccio. The idea is very elegant: if you want to stop high-frequency traders extracting rents from the market, there’s an easy way to do so — you just allow stocks to trade in increments of much less than a penny. Matt Levine puts it well: right now, he says, “because you can’t be outbid by another bidder within the same penny increment, you get free money by just getting there first”. If high-frequency traders could compete on price rather than just on speed, then a lot of the silly arms-race stuff would be replaced by better prices for investors.

Chart of the day: Median net worth, 1962-2010

The big news from the Fed this week is, in the words of the NYT headline, that Family Net Worth Drops to Level of Early ’90s. But if you look at the actual report, there isn’t any data in there on family net worth before 2001. So many thanks to Peter Coy, who actually went ahead and ran the numbers.

Counterparties: The knives come out for Jamie Dimon

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You can’t blame legislation for inequality

In the NYT today, I review the new books from Paul Krugman and Tim Noah. Short version: these are both really smart people, whom you should pay attention to. But neither has produced a great read, a book which works really well qua book. Krugman and Noah have good reason to be upset at me for this, because the fact is that the overwhelming majority of the nonfiction books which pile up around me every day are just as dull as theirs are. To say that these books are a bit of a slog is not to say something mean about Krugman and Noah in particular, so much as it is to say a simple truth about virtually every popular book about economics. But these are the books I was asked to review, and if anybody asked me whether they should read either one of them, I would reply by pointing that person to Krugman and Noah’s online writing instead. Because that is much more digestible, and even fun to read.