Monthly Archives: December 2008

The Invisible Stimulus

This sounds to me like it’s been filtered through some kind of Obama-transition behavioral economics screen: The incoming administration is considering tax cuts of $1,000 for couples and $500 for individuals that will be delivered by reducing the tax withheld … Continue reading

Posted in economics, Politics | 1 Comment

What Does GMAC’s Bond-Exchange Failure Mean for Detroit?

The GMAC bond-exchange results are out, and the screws that GMAC applied on December 10 — tender your bonds or we won’t become a bank or get TARP funds — seem to have had some effect, with the percentage of … Continue reading

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Extra Credit, Tuesday Edition

A Crack in The System: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of the Washington Post’s monster series on AIG Financial Products. Did those people at AIG not understand anything about financial risk? AIG actually quantified its tail risk, yet … Continue reading

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Is Buying Bonds Really a Good Idea?

The WSJ’s Brett Arends has learned his lessons this year, and shares them with us, including these ones: 4. Invest more, not less. Is that a guffaw from the peanut gallery? I don’t blame you. Your savings just fell 40% … Continue reading

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Blogonomics: Consumerist Sold to Consumers Union

You think you can’t sell media properties in the middle of a recession? Think again: Nick Denton has managed to sell Consumerist for what Peter Kafka describes as "something in the mid-six figure range" — the kind of money that … Continue reading

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Did Derivatives Help China’s Poor?

I’ve seen some pretty strong claims on behalf of derivatives in my time, but this one, from the Economist, is definitely among the strongest: The market for derivatives also facilitated investment in developing countries. That investment brought millions of people … Continue reading

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Dubious Statistics of the Day, Toxic Mortgage Edition

Interest and pressure groups put out garbage masquerading as useful research on a daily basis; it’s the job of the press to recongnise it as such and ignore it. Most of the time, the press does a very good job … Continue reading

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Property Crash Datapoint of the Day

Edmund Tadros reports: The average price of cyber land has dropped from 12.06 Linden dollars (seven cents) a square metre at its peak in January 2007 to 1.98 Linden dollars (1 cent) last month. I fear to think what’s happened … Continue reading

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Who Killed Frannie?

Bethany McLean, from her new perch at Vanity Fair, has delivered a 10,762-word magnum opus on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which spends most of its time giving a detailed history of what Hank Paulson called the "Holy War" between … Continue reading

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GMAC, the Fed, and Moral Hazard

The GMAC announcement on December 10 was quite unambiguous. The headline alone told you everything you needed to know: GMAC Announces That the Results of Its Exchange Offers Are Insufficient To Meet Regulatory Capital Requirements To Become a Bank Holding … Continue reading

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A Victory for GMAC Holdouts?

It looks like anybody who refused to participate in the GMAC bond tender offer is going to end up feeling pretty smug: The U.S. Treasury said it will purchase a $5 billion stake in GMAC LLC, the financing arm of … Continue reading

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Extra Credit, Monday Edition

$75 Billion Needlessly Lost in Hasty Lehman Bankruptcy Filing? Yves Smith debunks. Tyler Cowen, Paul Krugman, and the right time to have a financial crisis: Justin Fox adjudicates; Mark Thoma and Barbara Kiviat add commentary. Is There Really a Credit … Continue reading

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Can GMAC Lose its Newfound Bank Status?

GMAC says it’s still "tabulating" the results of its bond exchange, which means we still don’t know whether the crucial 75% hurdle has been reached. If it isn’t, then what? On Friday morning, the answer was clear: The deadline for … Continue reading

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Living in a Mall

Do you want to live within easy walking distance of shops, restaurants, and other such amenities? Do you want to live in a condo with a doorman, its own private grounds, a screening room, and similar bells and whistles? Up … Continue reading

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Overspecific Prediction of the Day

I give this one a 100% chance of being wrong: Mr. Panarin posits, in brief, that mass immigration, economic decline, and moral degradation will trigger a civil war next fall and the collapse of the dollar. Around the end of … Continue reading

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Larry Summers channels Barack Obama in the Washington Post: Our president-elect understands both the peril and the promise of the situation and the importance of responding to changing conditions. That is why his economic team is crafting a broad proposal, … Continue reading

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The Rise of Cheap Airlines

BreakingViews has launched its Poor Getting Poorer index, complete with predictable members such as Walmart and pawnbrokers EZCorp. But there’s also JetBlue: Though leisure travel will take a hit, discount carriers like JetBlue will attract those willing to take 3 … Continue reading

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Packaging Datapoint of the Day

It’s hard to keep up with Amazon. This morning, Tyler Cowen checked out the prices for an 8GB memory card: $24.45 but out of stock if you want Amazon’s frustration-free packaging, and $17.45 for the regular, frustrating version. Right now, … Continue reading

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The 2-Year Recession Optimists

It’s that time of year, when pundits get asked to prognosticate about the year ahead. The answers, as ever, are interesting mainly as sentiment indicators, rather than as any indication of what the future might hold. But the questions can … Continue reading

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When Private Equity Companies Fail

What happens when a private-equity shop fails? Boston Consulting Group thinks that will happen a lot in coming years: The consultants expect 50% of all companies backed by private-equity funds to default on their debt; as many as 40% of … Continue reading

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The Lehman Debacle

The WSJ has a 4,800-word tick-tock on the weekend of Lehman’s demise. The main takeaways, for me, are (a) that if John Thain really thought he deserved a $10 million bonus for his decision to sell to Bank of America … Continue reading

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Ben Stein Watch: December 28, 2008

Ben Stein is some kind of seer: About two years ago, a little delegation from a major investment bank arrived at my home in Beverly Hills. These nice young people were from the bank’s “wealth management division.”… They told me … Continue reading

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Why give Nobels for Financial Economics?

Pablo Triana sends me an open letter he’s written to the Swedish central bank, telling them to please stop giving out Nobel prizes in economics to "flawed, unworldly, and dangerous theoretical finance constructs": At least two of the theories awarded … Continue reading

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Retail Sales Datapoint of the Day

The WSJ has quite the chart this morning, taken from MasterCard’s SpendingPulse data: These are huge numbers, especially the 35% drop in luxury sales: it wasn’t all that long ago that the luxury segment was supposed to be immune from … Continue reading

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What is the Point of Fannie’s Directors?

In a world where an AIG offsite meeting can cause a public uproar, it’s interesting that so few people seem to care very much about the sums of money being paid to Fannie Mae’s directors. Dean Baker, of course is … Continue reading

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