Rolfe Winkler

Lunchtime Links 11-8

November 8, 2009

The economics of trust (Harford, Forbes) A great article. I’ve argued that markets need rules because without them the division of labor breaks down.

Lunchtime Links 11-6

November 6, 2009

Fannie asks for another $15 billion (press release) That brings the company’s total draw on Treasury to $59.9 billion. Here’s the paragraph that scares me: “Total nonperforming loans in our guaranty book of business were $198.3 billion, compared with $171.0 billion on June 30, 2009, and $119.2 billion on December 31, 2008. The carrying value of our foreclosed properties was $7.3 billion, compared with $6.2 billion on June 30, 2009, and $6.6 billion on December 31, 2008.” Why is the value of nonperforming loans growing so much faster than foreclosures? If Fannie’s not going to foreclose, then why bother paying the mortgage?

Lunchtime Links 11-5

November 5, 2009

Fight over blog comments hits NH high court (NHPR, ht AK) Aaron Krowne is fighting the good fight for bloggers everywhere.

Evening links 11-3

November 3, 2009

It’s Japan we should be worrying about, not America (Evans-Pritchard) There’s no pretty way to de-lever…

Morning Links 11-2

November 2, 2009

CIT files for bankruptcy (Wilchins/Comlay, Reuters) The $2.3 billion they got from TARP? It’s gone. We’ve known that for a while….another dagger in the heart of the we-made-money-on-TARP argument…

Afternoon Links 10-29

October 29, 2009

(Reader note: from here on out, instead of citing the publication in which a piece appears, I plan to cite the writer….where possible anyway.)

Afternoon Links 10-28

October 28, 2009

Apollo shares plunge on government inquiry (Bloomberg) The for-profit education industry is shady in the extreme. Fully 86% of Apollo’s revenue comes from student loans financed by the government. It’s a great scam. Find a warm body that qualifies for federal student aid, and then sell ‘em as much education as they’re willing to borrow against. And when the government offers to increase aid, companies like Apollo (and private universities) just raise their prices, forcing students to take on more debt for the same education. In the end, its taxpayers that take the hit when student loans default…

Afternoon links 10-27

October 27, 2009

New York Fed’s Secret Choice to pay for swaps hits taxpayers (Bloomberg) Remember the $13 billion that Goldman got via AIG after the government takeover? Turns out the NY Fed instructed AIG to pay out 100ยข on the dollar. Just another fact to keep in mind next time someone says the banks are “earning” their way through this crisis.

Morning Links 10-26

October 26, 2009

Detroit house auction flops (Reuters) “Despite a minimum bid of $500, less than a fifth of the Detroit land was sold after four days.” The article notes that “total vacant land in Detroit now occupies an area almost the size of Boston.”

Lunchtime Links 10-23

October 23, 2009

Macklowe’s Worldwide Plaza Successor wrestles towering dilemma (Bloomberg) “The partnership [that bought Macklowe's busted property] paid $370 a square foot for Worldwide Plaza, while competitors paid $1,000 a foot or more for similar buildings at the height of the five- year U.S. property boom.” That means they can drop rents to $30-$50 per sq foot from $80-$100 that was common not long ago. That’s bad for CMBS holders and banks who own the debt on busted properties, but fantastic for folks in the real economy who suddenly have much more money to spend on things besides rent. But instead of allowing price adjustments like this to happen, policymakers scream “deflation” and institute all manner of spending schemes to prop up asset prices.

Afternoon links 10-22

October 22, 2009

CFPA clears house panel (Bloomberg) A step in the right direction.

More aid for Pakistan (Newsweek) But is the money doing any good?

Why mortgages aren’t modified (Ed Harrison)

How the current economy has affected dentists, vasectomies, guns and shark attacks (CoinbyCoin) A good video, though be careful re: his chart of “leverage,” which looks to me like excess reserves in the banking system. A better measure of the economy’s leverage is debt to gdp.

Evening Links 10-20

October 20, 2009

IRS examining 100,000+ suspicious claims for homebuyer credit (WSJ) It’s a credit, which means folks without tax liability can get cash back from the IRS. Also, “taxpayers don’t have to file their claims as part of a real-estate transaction, and can instead” file/amend their 1040 to claim the credit, making it easier to commit fraued.

Lunchtime Links 10-19

October 19, 2009

Stopping by the Value Investor Congress today….still getting over the Bears’ ATROCIOUS loss last night….

Lunchtime Links 10-17

October 17, 2009

Quote of the day. Terry Teachout, the WSJ’s theater critic, commenting on John Stamos’ performance in the Broadway revival of Bye Bye Birdie: “Mr. Stamos couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket with the lid welded on.”