Felix Salmon

Financial innovation of the day, Winklevii edition

July 2, 2013

You can see why they called it the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust. Without their name in there somewhere, they would never have gotten a respectful thousand-word article in the NYT just for making a speculative SEC filing. To be clear: this thing is a really, really silly idea, from a pair of brothers whose main ambition, these days, is to be the biggest helminths in the bitcoinverse.

Adventures with “free” checking, transatlantic edition

July 1, 2013

[Warning: this post starts off with a long and self-indulgent complaint about my bank. Feel free to scroll down to the bit where I actually get to the point.]

Chart of the day, Fed-tightening edition

June 29, 2013

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This chart comes from Gavyn Davies’s excellent post on Fed tightening, which ought to be required reading for all members of the FOMC. He demonstrates the effect of the Fed’s tapering warnings in two ways: by showing that the expected short-term interest rate in mid-2016 is now about 100bp higher than it was at the beginning of May; and also, with the chart above, by showing that the market is now expecting rates to start rising much earlier than it had previously anticipated.

How a Goldman Sachs scavenger hunt is like a private equity deal

June 28, 2013

The one thing missing from Euny Hong’s wonderful dive into the all-night adventure that is the Goldman Sachs scavenger hunt is an explanation of what, to any Goldman type, is surely the most interesting bit of all: the finances.

The spread of link rot

June 28, 2013

When Anil Dash lamented, last December, about the web we lost, he wasn’t speaking literally — he was talking about a culture which got swept away by a tidal wave of Silicon Valley money. But with today’s news that Google seems to be about to vaporize a significant number of the blogs on its Blogger platform, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the problem of link rot isn’t going away — if anything, it’s getting worse.

Corzine’s disgrace

June 27, 2013

The CFTC complaint we were waiting for has now arrived: MF Global, Jon Corzine, and MF’s former assistant treasurer, Edith O’Brien, have all been charged with misusing — stealing, effectively — almost $1 billion in customer funds. They took the money out of customer accounts knowing that they weren’t allowed to do so, and they failed to repay it, and they also failed, naturally, to tell the CFTC what they were doing.

Snapchat’s early cash-out

June 26, 2013

Dan Primack is awesome when he’s angry, and boy is he angry today, reacting to the news that Snapchat’s two co-founders have cashed out to the tune of $10 million apiece as part of its latest funding round. “This is desperate lunacy,” he writes, adding that these kind of deals “should scare the hell out of venture capitalists”:

Can philanthropists be ruthless?

June 25, 2013

130621_Cover201.jpgCharles Kenny and Justin Sandefur have taken over the cover of the latest issue of Foreign Policy, with a classic of the QTWTAIN genre. The tl;dr version of their 4,000-word article (which is free, behind a registration wall): no, Silicon Valley cannot save the world. Still, there are some very good development innovations out there; the surprising thing is that you’re likely to find them not in Palo Alto but rather in Washington DC.

How the world benefits from Chinese piracy

June 25, 2013

Kal Raustiala and Christopher Sprigman have a  fantastic article in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs about IP laws and piracy in China. The title, which I love, is “Fake It Till You Make It,” and the gist is clear: