Felix Salmon

Eli Broad and the Gagosian consensus

I just arrived in LA, where the news that Leon Black was the buyer of The Scream is taking a decided back seat to the saga of MOCA. Just today, four life trustees of the Museum of Contemporary Art here wrote a letter to the LA Times distancing themselves from the direction it is taking, and another one — artist John Baldessari — resigned from the board entirely, becoming the fifth board member to do so since February.

Counterparties: America attempts to retire

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The sensible hunt for manufacturing jobs

Michael Kinsley tackles outsourcing today, complaining that Barack Obama is a protectionist who doesn’t understand its value, and that Mitt Romney is keener to pander to protectionists than he is to defend free-market principles. He writes:

Counterparties: Another day, another city

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Why the eminent-domain plan doesn’t hurt second liens

Brad Miller, arguably the most sophisticated and well-informed member of the House when it comes to housing finance issues, has an op-ed in American Banker today about the eminent-domain plan being mooted in San Bernadino (which just voted to file for bankruptcy, by the way). Miller’s excited about the plan, because he thinks that it will force banks to take losses on all-but-worthless second liens. But, sadly, he’s wrong about that.

Media ethics and transparency

I’ve just been told that it’s International Media Ethics Day in September, which is so far away that I’m bound to forget to post something. But I have been thinking a bit about media ethics of late, and especially the ever-increasing list of rules designed to ensure that journalists are neither conflicted nor seen to be conflicted. And the more I look at such things, the more I come to the conclusion that all too often they do a very good job of banning harmless activity, while at the same time proving quite ineffective against situations which are far more ethically problematic.

Counterparties: The incoherence of trade negotiations

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Traffic congestion datapoints of the day

TomTom has released its first congestion indices today, comparing 31 cities in Europe and 26 cities in the US and Canada. (They call that North America, which is a bit disappointing, because I’d dearly love to see how Mexico City compares to other North American cities, and it’s not on the list.) The rankings are interesting, but even more interesting, to me, are the way that the rankings have changed over the past year.

How economists get tripped up by statistics

scatter.tiff

Look at this scatter chart. There will be a quiz. Another dot is going to be added to this chart, in line with the distribution you see here. You get to choose what the X value of the dot is — and your aim is to get a Y value of greater than zero. So here’s the question: at what value of X are you going to have a 95% chance of getting a dot above the axis, in positive territory on the Y axis?