Felix Salmon

When Wall Street captures Washington

By Felix Salmon
March 16, 2012

One of the themes running through Noam Scheiber’s new book is the idea that professional technocrats have a tendency to take at face value much of what they’re told by Wall Street. Bankers are very good at capturing/flattering mid-level political operatives, although admittedly they’re less good at it now than they were before the crisis.

Goldman’s conflicts, part 917

By Felix Salmon
March 6, 2012

Andrew Ross Sorkin weighs in today on Goldman’s conflicts in the takeover of El Paso Corporation by Kinder Morgan, as laid bare in a blistering opinion by Delaware Chancellor Leo Strine. Steven Davidoff has described the decision as demonstrating that “Chancellor Strine is a bold judge, one who is brilliant and willing to make waves” — and so it’s worth extracting some of the more Rakoffian bits of Strine prose.

Send Indra Nooyi to the World Bank

By Felix Salmon
March 2, 2012

When it comes to the World Bank presidency, pretty much everybody agrees on two things: (1) it shouldn’t be an American; (2) it will be an American. We can and probably should get hung up on (1), but given political realities, it makes sense to ask: if it’s going to be an American, then who should it be? It shouldn’t be Larry Summers, that’s for sure, and it shouldn’t be Jeff Sachs, either. But there’s another name floating around which is a much better idea than either of those two men: Indra Nooyi.

Don’t send Sachs to the World Bank

By Felix Salmon
March 2, 2012

In 2002, Jeff Sachs took the top job at one of the most ambitious university departments in the world: the Earth Institute at Columbia University. And he’s done that job very well, judging by the main metric that universities care about. When he re-upped his contract last April, the press release gushed about all the multi-million-dollar donations that the Earth Institute has received, including $20 million from the Gates Foundation and $28 million from the Lenfest Foundation to endow climate change research.

Broke bureaucrat of the day, St Louis Fed edition

By Felix Salmon
February 1, 2012

Binyamin Appelbaum has helpfully aggregated all the Fed presidents’ financial disclosure statements in one place. The richest Fed president is Dallas’s Richard Fisher, who used to run an investment fund called Value Partners. And the legacy of Value Partners is still visible in Fisher’s statement: he owns more than $500,000 of stock in an obscure clothing company called Cherokee Inc, for instance, which was one of Value Partners’s biggest investments.

Germany, Greece, and the conspiracy of the technocrats

By Felix Salmon
January 31, 2012

Der Spiegel has a long and meticulously reported piece on the state of affairs as it exists right now between Germany and Greece, naturally concentrating on attitudes within Germany. Meanwhile, Yanis Varoufakis has a much more Greek take on the same subject at CNN. And by far the most striking thing, here, is how similar the two pieces are.

Summers: “Inside Job had essentially all its facts wrong”

By Felix Salmon
January 27, 2012

In mid-2009, I went on a search for apologies, from the people who laid the intellectual and regulatory foundations for the financial crisis. I wondered whether and when Larry Summers, in particular, would apologize for what he did at Treasury, and I was heartened when Bill Clinton came out and said that, with hindsight, he was wrong about derivatives regulation.

Jon Corzine, rogue trader

By Felix Salmon
December 12, 2011

Dealbook has a big piece on what went wrong at MF Global today, which removes any doubt about the way in which the firm’s sudden death was entirely the fault of Jon Corzine. The idea that Jon Corzine was a “rogue trader” has been raised in the past by the likes of Bill Cohan and John Carney, just on the basis of the size and riskiness of MF Global’s $6.3 billion bet on European sovereign debt. But now it’s looking increasingly as though Corzine demonstrated virtually all of the pathologies of the rogue trader more generally.

Treasury’s promise, one year on

By Felix Salmon
December 8, 2011

In November 2010, on what was pretty much his last day working for Treasury, I spoke to Michael Barr, an assistant secretary; he was upset about a post of mine which said that Treasury was going to do absolutely nothing with respect to holding banks accountable for the various mortgage scandals.