Monthly Archives: August 2008

Ben Stein Watch: August 31, 2008

Of the two candidates for president of the United States, one has an intelligent, coherent, and sophisticated economic policy. The other is quite open about the fact that he has almost no grasp of economics and that he is utterly … Continue reading

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Extra Credit, Friday Edition

Why Do We Use Core Inflation? A clear essay from Mark Thoma. Citigroup Settles Charges of Widespread Theft of Customer Funds: Mostly from the "poor or recently deceased". Are Louis Vuitton’s Artist Collaborations Nearing Their End? Probably not, but they … Continue reading

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Joe Nocera, Blogger

This is why newspapers should want all their columnists to blog. Joe Nocera: Although Lehman has been the number one rated equity research shop (again, according to Institutional Investor), that just shows how flawed such ratings are. Everybody on Wall … Continue reading

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How to Stop Stocks from Falling

Last month the Pakistani Small Investors Association made a "demand that all stock prices be frozen at current levels". Ask, it seems, and you shall receive: The Board of Directors of the Karachi Stock Exchange has decreed that although stock … Continue reading

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Chart of the Day: Palin on InTrade

Here’s today’s intraday chart of Sarah Palin’s contract at InTrade: this is meant to show the crowd’s wisdom on the question of whether she will be John McCain’s vice-presidential nominee. (The times are Irish, so they’re 5 hours ahead of … Continue reading

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$250,000 per Year Counts as Rich

Slate’s Moneybox column is mostly home to Dan Gross, but occasionally other people write for it too. Back in May, it was fine for Sam Grobart and Tara Siegel Bernard to write that "for a family of four living in … Continue reading

Posted in fiscal and monetary policy, pay, Politics, wealth | Comments Off

0% is Not a Useful Stock Fund Benchmark

Barry Ritholtz says it’s "amazing" that out of 2,100 diversified retail U.S. stock mutual funds open to new investors, just 17 have positive returns for both the past 12 months and year-to-date. The factoid comes, depressingly enough, from a very … Continue reading

Posted in investing, personal finance | 1 Comment

Peter Niculescu, Teflon Executive

How did Peter Niculescu manage to get promoted to the important new position of Chief Business Officer at Fannie Mae? This is how Fannie Mae describes his history at the company after he joined in 1999: In his previous position … Continue reading

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Another Anonymous Wall Street Blogger is Fired

Another day, another Wall Street analyst gets fired for his anonymous blog, despite taking precautions after the same thing happened to former Citigroup trader Michael McCarthy. The blogger known as "1-2" was never all that anonymous: for starters, he happily … Continue reading

Posted in employment | 1 Comment

GDP and the Decline of National Statistics

Zubin has a good roundup of reactions to the latest GDP numbers, which basically amount to a lot of economists caught wrong-footed and desperately trying to explain why a 3.3% growth rate isn’t anything like as healthy as one might … Continue reading

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The FBI and Mortgages

The LAT’s Richard Schmitt knows how to write a startling lede: WASHINGTON — Long before the mortgage crisis began rocking Main Street and Wall Street, a top FBI official made a chilling, if little-noticed, prediction: The booming mortgage business, fueled … Continue reading

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Why Infrastructure Privatization is Moving Slowly

Jenny Anderson has an evenhanded overview of US infrastructure privatization today. In a nutshell: it’s necessary, but it’s going to happen very slowly. The good news is that the media is moving away from "OMG the government is selling off … Continue reading

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Extra Credit, Tuesday Edition

Trade of The Day: Buy Freddie Paper With Fed Leverage Their loss is your gain, Part II – or – WaMu Deathwatch Student Loan ABS: Do or do not! More bonds with high spreads and no credit risk. Revealed: the … Continue reading

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Why Citi Needs Rubin

What is it with all these Citi memos which are coming out? There was the Asia reshuffle, the Markets reshuffle, the axing of the executive committee, and now the investment bank expenses memo. The weird thing is that all of … Continue reading

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What’s an Easy Way to Buy Cheap Assets?

It’s much, much bigger than regional banks buying GSE preferreds. You can buy Fannie and Freddie senior debt at significant spreads over the government which is guaranteeing it; hell, you can write credit protection on the US government and make … Continue reading

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Why do Regional Banks Hold Fannie and Freddie Preferreds?

I just saw this, from the FT: Regional banks, together with US insurers, hold the majority of Fannie and Freddie’s $36bn of outstanding preferred stock, which could be wiped out in the event of a government rescue. This is creating … Continue reading

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How Big are Subprime Losses?

According to Bloomberg we truly are all subprime now: Losses and writedowns on securities related to home loans to people with poor credit now exceed $504 billion at financial institutions. This may have started as a subprime crisis, but it’s … Continue reading

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How Many Architects Does it Take to Build a Bank?

DealBook asked a pointed question yesterday, riffing off a WSJ article: How many investment banks does it take to run an initial public offering? Apparently it’s not only the mega-IPOs, like Visa, which are suffering from too-many-cooks syndrome: even tiny … Continue reading

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Extra Credit, Monday Edition

Risk aversion – Berkshire style: "when most people do stress tests the process is “well what happens if property prices drop 30%?” and someone says “what if they drop 40%?” and the response is – they can’t go that far. … Continue reading

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When Vikram met Jim

The scene: Vikram Pandit’s office at 399 Park Avenue. Pandit is pacing uncomfortably in front of Sandy Weill’s old fireplace. Through the door enters Jim Forese, head of Citi’s capital markets group. Pandit: Jim. Have a seat. Forese: Mr Pandit. … Continue reading

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Wise Investing: No Substitute for Saving

Here’s a depressing statistic. In a recent Harris survey, 3,866 Americans were asked which things were "extremely important to achieving financial security in your retirement". 39% said that "investing wisely" was extremely important, while just 34% said that saving money … Continue reading

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Ignore Stock Market Volatility

Jim Surowiecki has a great line this week, in his column on stock-market volatility: For now we’re stuck in a Yeatsian market: the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity. The sentiment here is spot-on. … Continue reading

Posted in investing, stocks | 5 Comments

Ben Stein Watch: August 24, 2008

Would you rather sit on an airplane than talk on a cellphone? Do you stare openly and voraciously at New Yorkers when you walk down Sixth Avenue? If your answers to both these questions are yes, then I highly recommend … Continue reading

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CO2 Emission Datapoint of the Day

Barbara Kiviat reports: Over a 24-hour period, a single cargo ship sitting at Long Beach with its engines running throws off more emissions than all the passenger car traffic in the Los Angeles metro area. I’m sure that most cargo … Continue reading

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Extra Credit, Thursday Edition

U.S. Sees Biggest GDP Gain out of Major Seven OECD Countries: Which probably says more about the usefulness (or otherwise) of GDP as an indicator than it does about the relative health of the OECD nations. Quiz Question: Financial Services … Continue reading

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