Felix Salmon

Counterparties: Sequestration nation

February 27, 2013

Welcome to the Counterparties email. The sign-up page is here, it’s just a matter of checking a box if you’re already registered on the Reuters website. Send suggestions, story tips and complaints to Counterparties.Reuters@gmail.com.

The no-brainer immigrant-entrepreneur visa

February 27, 2013

Many thanks to the Kauffman foundation for crunching the numbers on a key part of Jerry Moran’s clumsily-named Startup Act 3.0 — the new visa for immigrant entrepreneurs. I don’t have an opinion on the rest of the bill, but it does have two sections which are something of a no-brainer when it comes to immigration reform. One is the immigrant-entrepreneur visa; the second is the idea of giving green cards to up to 50,000 foreign students who graduate from an American university with an advanced degree in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics — so long as they remain in that field for five consecutive years.

More convenience, less privacy

February 27, 2013

Restaurants are the natural home of impulse purchases. Would you like a third bottle of that wine? Would you like to see the dessert menu? What the hell, why not. All you need to do is say the word, and it all just appears, fresh and delectable for your consumption, before you’ve so much as paid a penny. Eventually, of course, the bill comes — essentially, it’s an invoice listing everything that you’ve already consumed. Then you pay that invoice, and leave.

Counterparties: Bigger slices, bigger pie

February 26, 2013

Welcome to the Counterparties email. The sign-up page is here, it’s just a matter of checking a box if you’re already registered on the Reuters website. Send suggestions, story tips and complaints to Counterparties.Reuters@gmail.com.

It’s time to abolish the FHFA

February 26, 2013

Remember the force-placed insurance scandal, which first came to light back in 2010? Well, despite being addressed in Dodd-Frank, the problem is still there: loan servicers are buying massively overpriced home insurance on behalf of homeowners, and getting enormous kickbacks from the insurers — if they don’t own the insurers themselves. The victims, here, are usually the investors who own the mortgages in question — which means that the biggest victims of all are Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

How to get people excited about education

February 26, 2013

Following a recommendation from Bond Girl on Twitter, I spent a 95-minute chunk of Saturday night on YouTube, watching the first of five Leonard Susskind lectures on cosmology and very much looking forward to the rest. By coincidence, it’s targeted pretty much at exactly my level: you need a decent grounding in Newtonian mechanics and basic calculus, but nothing too sophisticated.

Counterparties: Italy’s protest vote

February 25, 2013

Welcome to the Counterparties email. The sign-up page is here, it’s just a matter of checking a box if you’re already registered on the Reuters website. Send suggestions, story tips and complaints to Counterparties.Reuters@gmail.com.

Art world lawsuit of the day: Mirvish vs Knoedler

February 25, 2013

There’s a very simple and cost-free thing that all news organizations can do to make their news better: every time you write about a court filing or judgment, link to it. (And, ideally, make sure it’s been uploaded to Recap, too.) For instance, consider Patricia Cohen’s NYT article about David Mirvish’s lawsuit against the Knoedler gallery. (See what I did there? You’re welcome.)

Don’t let doctors’ incomes derail healthcare-cost reform

February 24, 2013

Sarah Kliff and Matt Yglesias both have good summaries of Steve Brill’s monster Time article on healthcare costs. Both of them correctly point out that the heart of the piece is about negotiating power: who has it (Medicare); who doesn’t have it (the uninsured); and how the lack of negotiating power on the healthcare-consumer side inevitably leads to sky-high costs.