Monthly Archives: January 2009

Merlot Contest

After the wine contest and the Pinot contest, last night was the Merlot contest. And boy did passions run lower. I thought that there would be many more really bad wines, just because people don’t really know the grape, and … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 12 Comments

Extra Credit, Friday Edition

The game changer: George Soros joins the CDS demonizers, but adds some substance to their arguments. Nouriel Roubini Partying With Intellectual Peers: Where’s Julia Allison’s high-tech name badge? Maybe her cleavage suffices. Ben Stein to Deliver Commencement Address: At the … Continue reading

Posted in remainders | 2 Comments

When Bonuses Aren’t Discretionary

It’s becoming increasingly clear that if there’s a problem in the general economy with sticky wages — employers being unable to cut costs by cutting wages, and thereby going bust — then on Wall Street the problem is the other … Continue reading

Posted in banking, pay | 2 Comments

How Deaccessioning Rules Doomed the Rose Art Museum

Shortly after posting my blog entry on Brandeis and the Rose Art Museum this morning, I received a series of unsigned emails, demanding that I take the blog down, asking that I hand over not only my own phone number … Continue reading

Posted in art | 2 Comments vs Blackstone

When I had lunch with the FT’s Rob Grimshaw, we spent all of our time talking about two sources of revenue: advertising, on the one hand, and subscriptions, on the other. Little did I imagine there was a third coming … Continue reading

Posted in Media | 2 Comments

Brandeis and Rose: The Numbers Emerge

Many thanks to Paddy Johnson for tipping me off to an astonishing article by Judith Dobrzynski at the Daily Beast, who’s managed to get the COO of Brandeis University, Peter French, to go on the record about his decision to … Continue reading

Posted in art | 1 Comment

Nationalizing Bank Losses

Tyler Cowen has a new argument against nationalization: Say that banks are in the red by $2 trillion for ever and all eternity. Taking over the banks simply means that the government picks up these losses as owner. Government ownership … Continue reading

Posted in bailouts, banking | 1 Comment


There’s a small silver lining of good news in today’s atrocious GDP report: the New York Times has started linking to primary sources from its home page. And this isn’t one of those open-in-a-new-window links, either: it’s a proper link, … Continue reading

Posted in economics, Media | 2 Comments

Extra Credit, Thursday Edition

A Rich Income in ’06 Was $263 Million: With an effective tax rate of just 17%. ISDA Announces Agreement to Make J.P. Morgan’s CDS Analytical Engine Available as Open Source: Which makes it more dangerous, I think. Bush War on … Continue reading

Posted in remainders | 1 Comment

Davos Datapoint of the Day

Alan Rappeport, who’s 4,000 miles away in New York, does some real reporting while the crowds of journalists at the schmooztastic gabfest play spot-the-mogul in the Kongresszentrum: ExecuJet, which is handling private business jets flying to the World Economic Forum … Continue reading

Posted in Davos 2009 | 1 Comment

When Buying a Hybrid Isn’t Green

If I were ever to have a nice little place in the Hudson valley (a chap can dream), I’d need a car to keep at the train station while I was in the city and to run me into the … Continue reading

Posted in climate change | 1 Comment

Let the Government Buy Corporate Bonds

What’s the difference between spending hundreds of billions or even trillions of dollars on loans, on the one hand, and loaning out the money directly, on the other? All of the "bad bank" proposals have one thing in common: that … Continue reading

Posted in bonds and loans, derivatives | 1 Comment

Disaster Datapoint of the Day

From Charles Kenny’s paper, "Why Do People Die in Earthquakes?": There is absolutely no overlap between the top twenty most costly insured disasters worldwide 1970-2005 and the top twenty worst catastrophes in terms of lives lost. All of the most … Continue reading

Posted in development | 1 Comment

The Nonprofit Newspaper

Steve Coll, reacting to David Swensen and Michael Schmidt, picks up the nonprofit newspaper meme and runs with it: Not to pick on any one institution, but, from a constitutional perspective, how did we end up in a society where … Continue reading

Posted in Media | 1 Comment

Where’s the Nationalization Debate?

There’s a lot of words but less actual news in the NYT’s big report today on Tim Geithner and his plan for the US banking system. But one thing does interest me, given the extent to which Warren has been … Continue reading

Posted in bailouts, banking | 1 Comment

Bonus Scandals Begin to Emerge

The issue of Wall Street bonuses in general, and Merrill Lynch’s bonuses in particular, is only just beginning to heat up. The NYT is scandalized today that bonuses in New York are going to total $18.4 billion — the sixth-largest … Continue reading

Posted in banking, pay | 1 Comment

Black Mail

I think it’s safe to say that the USA is the only major country in the world where people still regularly send checks in the mail. Which is one reason this is so shocking: Saying the U.S. Postal Service "is … Continue reading

Posted in banking | 1 Comment

Extra Credit, Wednesday Edition

Nationalize the Banks? Analyst Urges Other Options: Although it’s worth remembering that if they’re nationalized, Mike Mayo won’t have a job any more. Citi, BofA Show Investors Can’t Bank on Capital: Beware regulators touting capital ratios. Ecuador’s Dangerous Game: Abby … Continue reading

Posted in remainders | 1 Comment

Is Google Too Big To Fail?

Robert Cottrell has a provocative post about the cloud today. Is the future of information in the cloud? Robert has his doubts: I’d be on the pro-cloud side, were it not for the crash of cloud banking. The message from … Continue reading

Posted in technology | 1 Comment

The FT’s Online Business Model

I just had a long lunch with managing director Rob Grimshaw. He’s been in the job for about six months now, and I was interested to hear his take on everything from subscription firewalls to RSS feeds. It was … Continue reading

Posted in Media | 1 Comment

More on Lehman Revisionism

I’ve been thinking a bit more about the Lehman Brothers revisionism coming from the likes of Bernanke, Paulson, and Geithner: the fact that although they were quite clear about letting Lehman fail at the time, they subsequently have backtracked on … Continue reading

Posted in regulation | 1 Comment

John Thain’s PR Expenditures

When Maria Bartiromo asked John Thain about his notorious office, he replied: Well, first of all, it– it is true. This was a year ago or actually a little bit more than a year ago in a very differ– different– … Continue reading

Posted in banking, defenestrations, Media | 1 Comment

When Gift Cards Trade Over Par

Dealbreaker finds a $75 Amazon gift card which sold on eBay for $75.76. Interestingly, if you look at the auction history of the winning bidder, it’s pretty much all gift cards — this is someone who knows what they’re doing. … Continue reading

Posted in consumption | 1 Comment

Schwarzman’s Bailout Wishlist

There’s a severe shortage of finance honchos in Davos this year. They probably thought that turning up for the schmooztastic gabfest would send the wrong signal to their new lords and masters making $191,300 a year. On the other hand, … Continue reading

Posted in Davos 2009 | 1 Comment

Bank Loss Datapoint of the Day

Wells Fargo released both its and Wachovia’s fourth-quarter earnings this morning: The fourth-quarter net loss of $2.55 billion, or 79 cents a share, compares with profit of $1.36 billion, or 41 cents, a year earlier, the San Francisco-based company said … Continue reading

Posted in banking | 1 Comment