Monthly Archives: February 2009

The Kanjorski Meme

This is the way that memes propagate: after appearing on LiveLeak and being picked up by Zero Hedge (twice), Paul Kedrosky, and Clusterstock, it hit BoingBoing, and now it’s everywhere: Panzer, Alphaville, SAR, the Economist, you name it. I’ve been … Continue reading

Posted in Media, Politics | 1 Comment

Geithner’s Vague Plan

I like the symmetry here. On November 21, when Barack Obama announced that he was nominating Tim Geithner to be his Treasury secretary, the Dow rose 494 points and broke through the 8,000 barrier. On February 10, when Geithner gave … Continue reading

Posted in bailouts | 1 Comment

What’s Going On at Stanford International Bank?

Ray Pellecchia and I think that if Harry Markopolos had put his theories about Bernie Madoff online, Madoff would not have been able to continue his scam much longer. Against that, a lot of people are saying that no matter … Continue reading

Posted in banking, fraud | 2 Comments

Sorkin’s Questions Answered

Andrew Ross Sorkin has a great list of questions this morning for Congress to ask the big banks’ CEOs when they appear in Washington tomorrow. He’s too polite to provide the real answers, so let me try. 1. Try to … Continue reading

Posted in banking | 2 Comments

Extra Credit, Monday Edition

The case for bonuses: "The answer is the one given by the Tory leader David Cameron today, which is that if taxpayers hadn’t rescued those banks then those employees wouldn’t have jobs, let alone bonuses." CNBC vs. Barrons: The Complete … Continue reading

Posted in remainders | 2 Comments

The CNBC Cacophony, Taleb-Roubini Edition

Josh Marshall points to a classic case of people talking past each other, when Nassim Taleb and Nouriel Roubini appear on CNBC to talk about big-picture economic crisis, while the anchors in the studio are interested in things like why … Continue reading

Posted in Media | 1 Comment

Why Micropayments Won’t Work for the NYT

I’m not sure why the micropayments-as-the-savior-of-journalism meme seems to have taken off of late, but I’m glad there are lots of people trying to squash it: I’d particularly recommend Gabe Sherman and Clay Shirky. But in the case of Steve … Continue reading

Posted in Media | 1 Comment

The Hedge Fund Money-Go-Round

Bill Ackman explains how hedge funds work, specifically with regard to investors in Pershing Square IV, his fund dedicated (disastrously) to going long Target: Some of these investors, who are for the most part other hedge funds (that comprised approximately … Continue reading

Posted in hedge funds | 1 Comment

Kindle 2: Still Expensive

Megan McArdle loves her Kindle, but says that Amazon doesn’t want to have "a glut" of Kindles if the new Kindle 2 fails to sell as well as the original. My feeling is that having too many Kindles in stock … Continue reading

Posted in Media, technology | 1 Comment

Why We Need Federal Insurance Regulation Now

Rolfe Winkler has a great post on Allstate’s finances today, which underscores two things: the urgency of massive regulatory overhaul in the financial sector, and the necessity of including insurance companies under the unified financial-services regulatory umbrella. Unless and until … Continue reading

Posted in insurance, regulation | 2 Comments

How the Ad Recession Could Improve the Web

There’s an interesting quote buried near the end of the NYT’s article on the NYT: Across the Internet, “we have a glut of unsold inventory every single day,” said Kelly Twohig, the digital activation director at Starcom, which buys media … Continue reading

Posted in Media | 2 Comments

Recessionwire, in Theory and Practice

Congratulations to my former colleagues Laura Rich and Sara Clemence for getting the great-looking Recessionwire up and running — and for snagging some very valuable NYT real estate, as well. This is my favorite bit from the NYT article: … Continue reading

Posted in Media, pay | 1 Comment

Against New Good Banks

Paul Romer’s op-ed on starting up new good banks rather than trying to rescue existing institutions has gotten quite a lot of play in the blogosphere, maybe because of his famous last name; he shouldn’t be confused, however, with David … Continue reading

Posted in banking | 1 Comment

Why is the ECB Being so Gradualist?

Jim Surowiecki asks a good question today: if you know that you’re going to cut interest rates — and Jean-Claude Trichet has made it abundantly clear that he intends to cut interest rates in March — why not do so … Continue reading

Posted in fiscal and monetary policy | 1 Comment

Ben Stein Watch: February 8, 2009

What year does Ben Stein think that he’s in? On the one hand, he talks about "President Obama" in his latest column, so he must have some inkling that it’s 2009. But his overall message is very mid-2007: there’s a … Continue reading

Posted in ben stein watch | 1 Comment

Extra Credit, Friday Edition

U.S. Sovereign CDS Rockets to 82 bp: And it’s still very unclear who’s buying this protection. Deutsche Bank Fallen Trader Left Behind $1.8 Billion Hole: As suspected, it was on the CDS basis trade. Harvard Endowment to Cut 25% of … Continue reading

Posted in remainders | 1 Comment

Treasury’s $78 Billion TARP Giveaway

The Congressional Oversight Panel is certainly doing its job of double-checking TARP expenditures and Treasury statements. Here’s a bit of its latest report, which accuses Treasury of overpaying for assets to the tune of $78 billion: Valuation of the transactions … Continue reading

Posted in bailouts | 1 Comment

Why Does Bookstaber Hate Blogs?

Rick Bookstaber appeared on a panel with a couple of FT Alphaville bloggers last night; "whether they become viewed as journalists," he rather cattily writes, "time will tell". Bookstaber essentially says that blogs are "the cognitive equivalent of a string … Continue reading

Posted in blogonomics | 1 Comment

Cacophonous CNBC

Marion Maneker gets an astonishing admission from Jonathan Wald, the man in charge of news at CNBC who’s now leaving the station: "Conflict is king in cable television," Wald says. "You want more than one guest at a time. You … Continue reading

Posted in Media | 1 Comment

Hedge Fund Datapoint of the Day

For most of 2007, Target stock was trading in the low 60s. If you’d bought $2 billion of stock at those levels, you’d have about $1 billion today, since the share price now is in the low 30s. That’s the … Continue reading

Posted in hedge funds, stocks | 1 Comment

A Housing Thought Experiment

I’ve been thinking a bit about the idea of housing as an asset class, and I wondered if it was possible to somehow separate the shelter aspect of housing from the financial-asset aspect in order to work out just how … Continue reading

Posted in housing | 1 Comment

Paying for News

Walter Isaacson has a big article extolling micropayments as the future of the publishing industry — despite the fact that, as he admits, the technology simply doesn’t yet exist to make them easy enough to be workable. What’s more, the … Continue reading

Posted in Media | 1 Comment

No Soup for Madoff

There’s something very compelling about Tyler’s interactive maps of Madoff victims’ addresses. One spot in particular jumped out at me: what on earth was a Madoff victim doing on Delancey Street? It turns out, tragically, that Ratner’s deli — the … Continue reading

Posted in fraud | 1 Comment

Lobbying Datapoint of the Day

The Center for Responsive Politics does some adding up, and concludes that the 300 TARP recipients between them spent a total of $77 million last year on lobbying, on top of $37 million in federal campaign contributions, for a total … Continue reading

Posted in banking, Politics | 1 Comment

Chart of the Day: Spiking Unemployment

Jake at EconomPic Data has the chart: narrow unemployment is now at 7.6%, while the broader measure of underemployment is a whopping 13.9%. Clearly this kind of spike is scarily extreme, and equally clearly it’s not showing any signs of … Continue reading

Posted in economics, employment | 1 Comment