Monthly Archives: December 2007

Exports to the Rescue?

Paul Krugman has an interesting chart, showing US exports rising even as residential investment has been falling. Indeed, he writes, “thanks to the weak dollar, they’ve risen almost enough to offset the housing plunge”. Now this is one of those … Continue reading

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Extra Credit, Weekend Edition

Even before the Internet, news was pretty close to free: Justin Fox hits the nail on the head. (Related: Chris Anderson’s talk at Nokia.) Return to the Trial, or, why Western Union sucks: “Most of us need not concern ourselves … Continue reading

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The Economics of Non-Judicial Foreclosures

Have I mentioned of late how much I love my commenters? Many thanks to James Moore, who adds a very interesting twist to my obsession over the proportion of mortgages which are non-recourse. Moore gets straight to the heart of … Continue reading

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If We’re Looking at AUM, Let’s Also Look at LUM

As we learned from the WSJ last month, “assets under management” is not the most useful of metrics to use when judging the size of a hedge fund. For example, bond fund Y2K said it had assets under management of … Continue reading

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Good and Bad Reasons to Worry About the Credit Crisis of 2008

Floyd Norris’s column today reads as though it was written by two different people. Most if it is very good – a clear explanation of where the next credit crisis might come from. But then, at the end, it falls … Continue reading

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Warren Buffett, Bond Insurer

I’m fascinated by the news that Warren Buffett is starting up a new bond insurer. On the one hand, it makes perfect sense: he’s an expert in insurance, he already has a triple-A credit rating, and his competitors in the … Continue reading

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Explaining CDOs, Overcollateralization Edition

I got an email from my friend Todd yesterday, saying that despite my best efforts, he still doesn’t understand CDOs. This puzzled me: Todd’s a very clever chap, and he even works at an investment bank. CDOs are easy to … Continue reading

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Extra Credit, Friday Edition

Wall Street Journal’s Cursory Story on Collateralized Debt Obligations: Yves Smith takes it apart. Are dead-tree magazines good or bad for the climate? Why Portfolio.com has a larger carbon footprint than Portfolio magazine. World’s Biggest Building Coming to Moscow: Crystal … Continue reading

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McDonald’s Datapoint of the Day

George Will: McDonald’s exemplifies the role of small businesses in Americans’ upward mobility. The company is largely a confederation of small businesses: 85 percent of its U.S. restaurants — average annual sales, $2.2 million — are owned by franchisees. McDonald’s … Continue reading

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Are Subprime Losses Being Exaggerated?

John Berry dedicates his Bloomberg column today to debunking exaggerated estimates of the magnitude of the subprime crisis. $300 billion, he asks? $400 billion? Pshaw. A more realistic amount is probably half or less than those exaggerated projections — say … Continue reading

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Uncovering Material Information at Merrill Lynch

It’s the bottomless write-downs! According to William Tanona of Goldman Sachs, the write-downs we’ve already seen at Citigroup and Merrill Lynch aren’t even close to being final. Indeed, he reckons that both banks will see 11-figure write-downs in the fourth … Continue reading

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Silly Idea of the Day: Grocession

Are you tired yet of the debate about whether or not we are in, or might even already have entered, a recession? Given that nobody knows and nobody can know, the whole thing seems a little bit pointless to me. … Continue reading

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The Genesis of a CDO

Portfolio’s flash-based explanation of what a CDO is has proved extremely popular, I’m happy to say. Now the WSJ has got in on the act as well, with a much more detailed (and much less metaphorical) flash-based explanation of how … Continue reading

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Afghan Microlenders Also Take Deposits

Caitlin Liu has a wonderful story today on microfinance in Afghanistan; do check out the slide show, too. The bit which jumped out at me was this: Usually run by non-profit groups, microfinance agencies offer loans to the poor without … Continue reading

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Sallie Mae: Now You Can Buy a Mandatory Convert!

On February 22, Sallie Mae is contractually obliged to pay Citigroup almost $2 billion for 44 million of its own shares, at $45.25 apiece. That’s despite the fact that the shares are currently trading at less than half that level. … Continue reading

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Extra Credit, Thursday Edition

Warren Buffett: The Awe of His Schucks: How the Sage of Omaha massages the media. Home Prices Fall for 10th Straight Month The Davos Question 08: What one thing do you think that countries, companies or individuals must do to … Continue reading

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Pearson Sells a Paper

The good news is that Pearson has finally, officially, sold off a financial newspaper it really had no business owning in the first place. The bad news is that it hasn’t sold the FT; it’s merely sold Les Echos, in … Continue reading

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The Economics of TV Advertising

Holly Sanders has found a TV paradox: as ratings fall, ad rates rise. Specifically, ad rates in both the fourth quarter and the first quarter are running 18% above their previous-year levels, even as ratings are 14% lower than they … Continue reading

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Merry Christmas, Apple Shareholders!

For those of you who like round numbers, Apple shares broke the $200-a-share barrier today. 18 months ago, in July 2006, they closed at $50.67. Which I think works out to an annualized growth rate of about 250%. Nice.

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Riccardo Rebonato on the Credit Crunch

I have a piece elsewhere on portfolio.com today looking back at this summer’s credit crunch. In it, I quote Riccardo Rebonato, the author of my favorite finance book of the year, Plight of the Fortune Tellers. The quote comes from … Continue reading

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Why is Temasek Buying Into Merrill?

Pranay Gupte has an excellent profile of Temasek, the Singaporean sovereign wealth fund which has just invested $4.4 billion in Merrill Lynch. Nobly, he uses the word “nepotism” – which is more than the Financial Times is happy doing. But … Continue reading

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The Economics of Wine Prices

David Leonhardt says that we’re living in a “golden age of inexpensive wine,” and I’d agree, although I might take issue with anybody who describes Yellow Tail as “terrific”. I’d also agree with Leonhardt’s main point, which is that alcohol … Continue reading

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Luxury Air Travel: Still Not Proven

MaxJet is dead, and it’s blaming high oil prices for its demise, as well as “the resulting impact on the credit climate for airlines”. It might, on the other hand, have simply blamed the fact that three different all-business-class airlines … Continue reading

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Merry Christmas! Buy a Lottery Ticket!

Market Movers wishes both all its readers a very merry Christmas. Today, I think, is a good day to go out and buy a lottery ticket. For one thing, buying lottery tickets can be an economically rational thing to do. … Continue reading

Posted in economics | 1 Comment

Merry Christmas Bleg

Merry Christmas to you. As for me, all I want for Christmas is… …a very simple WYSIWYG HTML editor. Why can’t I find one? I spend most of my days writing blog entries. Mostly it’s just text inside <p> tags, … Continue reading

Posted in Not economics | 5 Comments