Monthly Archives: February 2007

Macroeconomics is just like nutritionism

Have you read that Michael Pollan article on nutritionism yet? You really should. Here’s a chunk: Most nutritional science involves studying one nutrient at a time, an approach that even nutritionists who do it will tell you is deeply flawed. … Continue reading

Posted in Econoblog | 4 Comments

Mortality bonds and longevity bonds

You can bet on people dying: Liam Pleven and Ian McDonald in the WSJ have a good overview of how life-insurance companies are increasingly turning to the capital markets to hedge the risks they bear of insured individuals dying too … Continue reading

Posted in Econoblog | 20 Comments

Will Goldman Sachs help absorb subprime losses?

According to a rumor over at Dealbreaker, one of the big losers in the subprime mess is none other than Goldman Sachs: “Not sure if this is on your radar, but a Goldman trader took a $1B (yes, that is … Continue reading

Posted in Econoblog | 2 Comments

Metaphor of the day

“If it walks, ducks and quacks like garbage it passes the smell test of being garbage.” —Nouriel Roubini

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Why the XM-Sirius merger might not be so good for consumers after all

The WSJ had a wonderful Reply-All (think a techy version of Econoblog) yesterday on the subject of whether the XM-Sirius merger would be good for consumers. Mark Cooper, a consumer advocate, said no; Donald Russell, a former DoJ lawyer, said … Continue reading

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Is there any reason to still care about the Dow?

Here’s the chart of yesterday’s price action in the Dow, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq. Note anything crazy? Like a whopping great big down-250-points-in-one-tick plunge in the Dow at about 3pm? As you can see from the broader stock … Continue reading

Posted in Econoblog | 10 Comments

Stern replies to Leonhardt

Remember last week, when the world was carefree, and all we had to worry about were minor things like the fate of the planet? David Leonhardt’s Economix column bravely entered the world of discounting — and managed to get it … Continue reading

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Can one day’s fall mean the market is getting bearish on the US economy?

Brad Setser says that “I thought Leonhardt was better than usual” today — and he’s right. David Leonhardt’s Economix column comes on a Wednesday, which is perfect timing to look at the economic fundamentals, insofar as there are any, behind … Continue reading

Posted in Econoblog | 5 Comments

No one knows why the market fell, and it doesn’t matter anyway

Dan Gross gets it. Andrew Leonard gets it too. In fact, any halfways-decent financial journalist gets it, and, if honest, would simply write a story saying “the market went down and we don’t know why”. But instead we’re inundated with … Continue reading

Posted in Econoblog | 3 Comments

The world of Aaa debt just got a lot more interesting

It seems that no one has a pleasant word today for Moody’s, except maybe investors in Icelandic bank bonds. The ratings agency went on a triple-A spree yesterday, bringing pretty much every Icelandic bank up to Aaa status. Landsbanki was … Continue reading

Posted in Econoblog | 14 Comments

VC narratives of our times

Steven Johnson explains today why he ended up accepting money for his Web 2.0 venture from VCs: The assumption had always been that we would not seek out venture capital funding for the company — at least in its first … Continue reading

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Negative equity datapoint of the day

I’m slowly becoming convinced that 95% of talk about negative equity comes either from anecdote or from extrapolation, and that there are actually few if any reliable statistics on how much negative equity there really is in the US. But … Continue reading

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Antarctica in the New York Post

If you’re in New York (or LA, I think), you might be interested in a 2-page article on Antarctic cruises in the New York Post today, which was written by, er, me. It’s online too, though not nearly as pretty: … Continue reading

Posted in Not economics | 8 Comments

Markets rediscover volatility

So Chinese stocks fell by 9%, Alan Greenspan uttered the word “recession“, US stocks are down, credit spreads are widening, and emerging-market bonds are being hit. It’s time to take a step back. The Intrade recession contract is at an … Continue reading

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Disagreement Case Study

Robin Hanson asks for disagreement case studies. When I was at RGE, I developed a bullish, trust-the-market persona to act as a foil to Nouriel Roubini’s ultrabearish position. Brad Setser was kinda in between. The interesting thing to me, which … Continue reading

Posted in Econoblog | 4 Comments

Was LTCM a lower-tail event?

I have to admit I’m a bit vague on the specifics of what happened in the LTCM blow-up. In my mind, it has always been inextricably linked with Russia’s debt default, although this many years later I’m not even sure … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Are private companies more environmentally responsible?

TXU is one of the most environmentally unfriendly companies in the world, and the enormous amount of bad press that it’s been getting as even spilled over onto banks such as Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, and Morgan Stanley. Now, of course, … Continue reading

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Explaining Zagat grade inflation

New York magazine’s Grub Street blog points me to a piece at about the Zagat guides, which has some interesting datapoints: When the Zagats started selling their 1983 New York restaurant guide, it was no mean feat for a … Continue reading

Posted in Econoblog, Not economics | 1 Comment

In defense of vulture funds

Greg Palast is an admirably bulldoggish reporter. Pop over to his blog, and you’ll see that the last six entries are all on the subject of vulture funds in general, and the Donegal vs Zambia case in particular. Palast reported … Continue reading

Posted in Econoblog | 40 Comments


Sorry about the lack of posts today – I spent the morning working on a long piece about vulture funds (coming soon!) and the afternoon at the Armory Show. The fact that it’s all in one place now, rather than … Continue reading

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Why expanding Sarbox doesn’t make sense

I’m a little bit late to the game, here, but let me point you to the latest piece from Thomas Palley, entitled "Expand Sarbox, Not Shrink It". The idea is that US shareholders need more protection, not less, and Palley … Continue reading

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No, Bush isn’t at fault for the subprime crisis

I’m still waiting for Dean Baker’s blog entry on why the risk of a credit crunch means that we should start importing more white collar professionals now. But in the mean time, enjoy this, from the New York Times leader … Continue reading

Posted in Econoblog | 1 Comment

Fortune profiles Steve Schwarzman

Have you read Nelson Schwartz’s profile of Steve Schwartzman? The best quote in the piece goes to Schwartzman himself: "I’m in it because I like to be excellent and to win." Schwartzman is painted as yet another humorless billionaire financier … Continue reading

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How does bad news affect share price?

I’ve been looking a bit at JetBlue, and what happened to its stock price over the past 10 days or so. The airline was hit very badly by New York’s snowstorm on Wednesday the 14th: that day, and the following … Continue reading

Posted in Econoblog | 1 Comment

Reading the EMTA volume survey

I love getting nerdy with EMTA’s volume surveys, and now they’ve released the big annual survey for all of 2006. In case the press release has disappeared behind a firewall again, here’s the gist: Emerging Markets debt trading reached its … Continue reading

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