Felix Salmon

The Piketty pessimist

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This chart comes from the World Economic Forum’s 2014 Global Risks Report, which came out just before Thomas Piketty’s book started becoming the topic of discussion in economic and plutocratic circles.* You can clearly see what you might call the rise of inequality-as-an issue: before 2012 it’s nowhere to be found, but since then it’s been consistently in the top spot. My prediction is that in 2015, thanks to Piketty, the WEF will start talking less about income inequality, and more about wealth inequality.

The most expensive lottery ticket in the world

No Exit, the new book from Gideon Lewis-Kraus, should be required reading for anybody who thinks it might be a good idea to found a startup in Silicon Valley. It shows just how miserable the startup founder’s life is, and raises the question of why anybody would voluntarily subject themselves to such a thing.

The problems of HFT, Joe Stiglitz edition

Never mind Michael Lewis. The most interesting and provocative thing to be written of late about financial innovation in general, and high-frequency trading in particular, comes from Joe Stiglitz. The Nobel prize-winning economist delivered a wonderful and fascinating speech at the Atlanta Fed’s 2014 Financial Markets Conference today; here’s a shorter version of what Stiglitz is saying.

Private equity math, Nuveen edition

The WSJ has the details of today’s big asset-management news: TIAA-CREF is buying Nuveen Investments for $6.25 billion.

Five explanations for Greece’s bond yield

The biggest news in the sovereign debt world this week has come from Greece, which managed to sell some €3 billion in new 5-year bonds at a yield of just 4.95%. This is not what you might expect, given the macroeconomic situation:

The utility of switching lanes

Josiah Neeley has an evil, hour-long commute. But unlike most of us with traffic issues, he actually decided to do something constructive with it: according to the flip of a coin, he either commutes normally, switching lanes when doing so seems sensible, or else sticking religiously to the left-hand lane and just sweating it out, no matter how fast or slow it goes.

Yes, the SEC was colluding with banks on CDO prosecutions

Back in 2011, I asked whether the SEC was colluding with banks on CDO prosecutions. And now, thanks to an American Lawyer Freedom of Information Request, we have the answer: yes, they were.

Wonkonomics

My article on the wonk bubble, at Politico, came out not only at the same time as the launch of Vox.com, but also, coincidentally, with the release of comments from both Michael Wolff and Marty Baron on the same subject.

Michael Lewis’s high-speed journalism

My full review of Flash Boys is now up at Slate. Tl;dr: he’s right for the wrong reasons. HFT is a bad thing, but not because it rips off small investors.