Felix Salmon

Annals of dubious statistics, crowdfunding edition

Are crowdfunding statistics the new counterfeiting statistics? Certainly they seem to have become a meme. If you know that crowdfunding is a big deal, it’s probably because you read all about it in TechCrunch, in May (“these portals raised $1.5 billion and successfully funded more than 1 million campaigns in 2011″), USA Today, a few weeks later (“About $1.5 billion was raised in 2011 by about 450 crowd-sourcing Internet sites worldwide”), or maybe the Economist, a week after that (“$2.8 billion will be raised worldwide this year, up from $1.5 billion in 2011″). More recently, Forbes upped the ante even further: “This year alone, an estimated $3.2 billion dollars is expected to be raised through donation-based crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter”.

Counterparties: The clarifying effects of CEO retirement

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Bloomberg with attitude

Bloomberg News has been run, since inception, along the lines laid out very clearly by its editor-in-chief, Matt Winkler, in The Bloomberg Way. But you don’t need to buy a copy of the book to know what the Bloomberg Way means: if you spend any time at all reading Bloomberg articles, you’ll know exactly how it feels to read them.

Counterparties: The housing drag of student loans

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How to help underwater homeowners

I’m a huge fan of Senator Jeff Merkley’s new plan to help out the 8 million American homeowners who are current on their mortgages but underwater and therefore unable to refinance. If you like to see such things in video form, the YouTube announcement is here; for the nerds among us, the full 31-page proposal is here.

Why Argentina’s likely to beat Elliott Associates

There were lines out the door of 500 Pearl Street on Monday afternoon, as a surprisingly large crowd of jurists and hedgies and bankers and wonks — and even a few journalists — filed into the Ceremonial Coutroom of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals for an hour-long hearing about two sentences in old Argentine bond documentation. The case is huge in the world of sovereign debt, arguably the biggest that world has ever seen. And it was no surprise to see Treasury’s lawyer get up in front of the judges to make his case that they should overturn Thomas Griesa’s lower-court decision, which seeks to force Argentina to pay off its holdout bond creditors.

Counterparties: Imposing pay cuts on unions

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Jumping to conclusions, Malcom Gladwell edition

Back in 2009, when Andrew Ross Sorkin wrote Too Big To Fail, Moe Tkacik picked up on one particular anecdote: that Joe Gregory, who “loved being the in-house philosopher-king” at Lehman Brothers, was prone to handing out copies of Malcom Gladwell’s Blink to employees, and “had even hired the author to lecture employees on trusting their instincts when making difficult decisions”. Then Joe Weisenthal, reading Tkacik’s post, immediately reblogged it under the very TBI headline “GUILTY: Malcolm Gladwell Caused Lehman To Fail”.

Why Americans don’t have offshore bank accounts

Adam Davidson uses his NYT Magazine column to weigh in on the subject of offshore tax havens this week, and delivers something very peculiar. His initial conceit is reminiscent of Dennis Berman’s attempts to set himself up as a pre-IPO Facebook investor, only without the deceit: