Lunchtime Links 8-24

August 24, 2009

The man who sells America’s IOUs (NYT)  An interesting profile of Van Zeck, the commissioner of the public debt.

Tyler Durden’s insider trading settlement (FINRA, ht Felix)  The NY Post article that “outed” Tyler Durden as Daniel Ivandjiiski excluded key details about his banning from the securities industry. The ill-gotten profit in question?  $780. Not that I condone insider trading, I don’t. Familiar as they are with details of what happens on Wall St. trading desks, I think Tyler and his team are net contributors to the blogosphere. Like Frank Abagnale, it takes one to know one. The bigger problem is that their style — shoot first, aim later — costs ZeroHedge some credibility. All journalists do this to some degree. We have to file columns/stories by a certain deadline and go with the best information we’ve got. Sometimes it’s incomplete. On occasion it’s wrong. It’s a balancing act that should always tilt in favor of quality of information over quantity.

Fitch: Delinquency cure rates worsening for prime RMBS (BusinessWire, ht CR) “Curing” is a term lenders use to describe delinquent borrowers who get caught up on their payments. Banks engaged in “extend and pretend” tactics do so in large measure because they think delinquent borrowers will eventually make good. The fact that prime borrowers can’t dig themselves out of their hole is another negative data point that suggests the “recovery” is an illusion.

Stratfor: Mixed signals from Tehran (Cumberland Advisors)  David Kotok got permission to reprint an interesting article from Stratfor, the private intelligence service.  If you’re interested in oil markets, understanding developments in Iran is important. Read the Stratfor article itself first, then if you want, go back to the commentary above and below.

Population age affects economic growth ( Economic growth is a function of population and technology. Growing populations boost demand, improving technology boosts productivity. Combined the two lead to healthy expansion. This ignores issues of sustainability, of course. Anyway, when demographics turn against you, as they have in Japan and as they are in the U.S., economic growth can be difficult to pull off.

Kasriel: Why expansion of Fed’s balance sheet hasn’t been inflationary…yet (pdf)  (NTRS) Adding more detail to the argument made here last month.

Free issue of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer for the masses (Jim Grant, ht Ritholtz) JG is a must read for investors in the financial sector. This is complicated stuff; probably not suitable for general interest readers.

Rare Morning Glory clouds spotted (

Clint Eastwood eat your heart out….

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