Monthly Archives: April 2008

Brazil Finally Gets its Investment-Grade Credit Rating

File under "about time too": Brazil has finally been upgraded to an investment-grade credit rating by S&P. The stock market hit a new record high in celebration, and the bonds tightened in even further: The yield to the 2015 call … Continue reading

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The US Economy Reaches a Fork in the Road

There’s been a lot of good stuff written on the GDP report, much of it on the slightly boring question of whether it means we’re in a recession. To me, the answer’s pretty simple: you have to be clear about … Continue reading

Posted in economics, fiscal and monetary policy | Comments Off

Why Some Countries Find it So Hard to Get Rich

Nobel laureates are always a big draw at the Milken Conference, so it wasn’t much of a surprise that the room was full when Michael Spence moderated a panel on the relationship between growth and development featuring Myron Scholes. It … Continue reading

Posted in development, economics, education, milken 2008 | Comments Off

Quote of the Day: Frictionlessness

Eric Feng of Hulu, on the digital innovation panel: Media is an impulse business. It’s foolish to expect that the user is going to climb mountains and cross hurdles to get to that content. This is very broadly applicable. Clearly … Continue reading

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What the Internet Doesn’t Transform

The PR panel in some ways encapsulated the weird nexus between corporate America and internet-era technology which has characterized a large part of the Milken Conference. Monday it was newspapers, Tuesday it was music, Wednesday it was PR: in each … Continue reading

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The State of Catastrophe Bonds

The panel on catastrophe bonds coincided with the release of a Milken Institute report on the topic. Catastrophe bonds make a huge amount of sense, in theory. The cost of Hurricane Katrina was over $65 billion in insured losses alone. … Continue reading

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The State of the Music Industry

The music panel featured Andy Lack, the chairman of Sony BMG, who somehow contrived to be reasonably upbeat about the recorded-music industry. It was his misfortune to be sat next to Quincy Jones, who lost no time in bursting his … Continue reading

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The Unintended Consequences of Water Pricing

I didn’t manage to catch all that much of the water panel, but I was struck by Israel’s Booky Oren, who said that 38 of the US states are coping with drought, but that if US agriculture used 50% reused … Continue reading

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The State of Private Equity

Apollo’s Leon Black (#6 on the latest private equity league table) kicked off an interesting discussion on the private equity panel this morning, when he said that the backlog of leveraged loans held by banks has come down from over … Continue reading

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Political Hacks: The Backlash

Macroeconomic discussions at the Milken Conference tend to feature a great deal of party-political Republican talking points. The lunch panel on Monday was moderated by Steve Forbes, the breakfast panel on Tuesday was moderated by Paul Gigot. And with people … Continue reading

Posted in economics, milken 2008, Politics | Comments Off

Apple Datapoint of the Day

This is entirely anecdotal, but there’s no doubt what the single most popular laptop is at the Milken Global Conference: the MacBook Air. The conference skews decidedly Republican, with a lot of very senior executives: we’re talking the conservative rich … Continue reading

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The Importance of Price Signals in the MBS Market

Brad DeLong replies to my post on whether hedge funds helped to stabilize the MBS market with a subtle but powerful argument. If I may attempt a paraphrase: hedge funds are marginal price-setters, and in financial markets a very large … Continue reading

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Blogonomics: The Econobloggers Panel

Can be found here. If you’re having trouble with the sound, it kicks in properly around the 8 minute mark. And yes, Yves Smith really is a woman.

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Regional Newspapers are Doomed

The panel on the future of print media was really rather depressing, and not necessarily because the panelists were downbeat. The panel comprised four late-middle-aged business guys. They’re all reasonably bullish on how newspaper companies can transform themselves into web-era … Continue reading

Posted in Media, publishing | Comments Off

When the WSJ Competes with the NYT

David Carr’s column on the WSJ today is excellent: when he describes the behavior of the WSJ’s editors before and since Murdoch’s takeover as "a pattern of rolling complicity," he really couldn’t put it any better. But he goes further … Continue reading

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Extra Credit, Monday Edition

Deutsche Bank planning major capital increase: It could be as much as $27 billion. I’ll say that’s major. California & Co. Bids to Become Newest Bond Insurer: When states insure states. Mars-Wrigley? Buffett’s Sweet Deal: How "Warren Buffett sees a … Continue reading

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How Important is it to Jail Insider Traders?

An interesting discussion about regulators with teeth cropped up during John Gapper’s panel on financial centers. Gapper noted that the SEC was much better at jailing white-collar criminals than any of London’s financial regulators, to which Guy Saxton, the CEO … Continue reading

Posted in law, milken 2008 | Comments Off

Cities: The Least Bad Part of US Real Estate

As a general rule, if you get the opportunity to hear Sam Zell speak, you should take it. He was on the real estate panel today, and he didn’t disappoint. The moderator was Lew Feldman, a real-estate lawyer, who started … Continue reading

Posted in housing, milken 2008 | Comments Off

The State of Credit

The Milken Global Conference kicked off this morning with a panel moderated by Mike Milken on the only possible subject: credit. It was a high-level panel, with some high-level discourse: one of the most sophisticated conversations I’ve ever tried to … Continue reading

Posted in bonds and loans, milken 2008 | Comments Off

Airline Datapoint of the Day

David Robertson, on Eos shutting down: Rising oil prices are causing havoc in the airline industry and Eos is the seventh carrier in two weeks to seek bankruptcy protection or go bust. I guess that ballyhooed service from London to … Continue reading

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The Problems of Congestion Pricing in LA

Tim Rutten objects to congestion pricing on LA freeways, and I, like Mark Thoma, am sympathetic. Since I was such a strong advocate of congestion pricing in New York City, however, it’s worth teasing out the main reason why something … Continue reading

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Blogonomics: Going Pro

Megan McArdle reckons that econoblogging has become professionalized: All of the high-traffic economics bloggers I read are either professors, in some similarly rewarding profession, or already tied up by a media organization… I’m not sure what this means for the … Continue reading

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Did Hedge Funds Help Stabilize the Mortgage Market?

Brad DeLong approvingly quotes a correspondent: The fact that there was an ABX index and thus an easy way for people to bet that the mortage-backed securities market would crash probably cut short the bubble–the true hedge funds were stabilizing … Continue reading

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Sales Pitch of the Day, Realtors Edition

Watching the television on the plane over to LA, I saw this ad for the National Association of Realtors telling people that buying a house "is a good move" using the grounds that the average homeowner has 60% of his … Continue reading

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Extra Credit, Bonus Edition

Economics is funny: Cowen vs Rodrik. Related: Summers. Recession? It Doesn’t Add Up: "When the government prints its estimate of first-quarter GDP next Wednesday, it’s highly unlikely the number will be negative… with the government’s tax rebate checks getting into … Continue reading

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