Breakfast Buffet, Wednesday, May 27
Wake Up, Americans!: That's what John Taylor wants to shout from the rooftops, or at least the op-ed page of the Financial Times, in order to get us to pay attention to our soaring national debt.
Breakfast Buffet, Monday, May 21
Think You See Green Shoots? You're Wrong: Nouriel Roubini, aka Dr. Doom, must have some strange biological or neurochemical processes in place that give him pleasure for undercutting optimists.
Prepare to Hate Your Credit Card Company Even More
Is this an industry scare tactic to prevent unwanted regulation, or a real threat?Now Congress is moving to limit the penalties on riskier [credit card] borrowers, who have become a prime source of billions of dollars in fee revenue for the industry.
Breakfast Buffet, Monday, May 18
Singh His Praises: India's Congress Party, headed by economist Manmohan Singh, pulled off a major victory over the weekend. Pundits took it as a mandate for economic reforms, and a surprising win for the ruling party in a country that loves to kick its leaders to the curb after one term.
Make It Stop: The Webbys
Imagine if you took the Oscars, which recognize "excellence in filmmaking," and decided instead to honor "excellence in anything shown on a screen of any kind." Welcome to the Webbys, a boundless and silly salute to the online universe.
Stephen Wolfram's Plan to Leapfrog Google
Silicon Valley is full of imperial visionaries whose mission is to take down Google, which now controls about 64 percent of the search market worldwide. They range from Microsoft to newcomers like Cuil, but all of them have ended up merely battling one another on the outskirts of Google's dominion, fighting for the shrinking number of searches that Google hasn't yet figured out how to conquer.Then there is physicist Stephen Wolfram.
China: A Capitalist's Dream Come True
Every good businessperson has a favored statistic about China. I remember meeting the son of a vineyard owner in Napa Valley, who was helping his parents take their modest business global. "Think about it," he told me. "If we sold a bottle of wine to every Chinese millionaire, we'd run out of wine before we ran out of millionaires!"I haven't kept in touch with the oenophile, so I don't know how his well-laid plans played out, but Dan Gross has been keeping tabs on how some major American brands...
Breakfast Buffet, Thursday, May 14
The Dollar Loses Its Groove in China: An op-ed by Nouriel Roubini the New York Times says the dollar may not lose its reserve currency status overnight, but "we can no longer take it for granted," and the renminbi may take its place.
Breakfast Buffet, Wednesday, May 13
Where Are Argentina's Coins?: This is for sure the strangest story of the week. Argentina is facing a mysterious coin shortage. Some small convenience stores would rather turn down business than give out change.
Breakfast Buffet, Tuesday, May 12
Welcome to Shangkong: A year or two ago, New York and London battled each other to be crowned seat of global finance. But, writing in the Financial Times, Yale professor (and regular Newsweek International contributor) Jeffrey Garten argues that, "once the global recovery begins, New York and London might be vying less with one another than with a new competitor in the form of a partnership between Hong Kong and Shanghai – call it 'Shangkong' – a highly consequential shift of financial...
Financial Economics, 'Saturday Night Live'-style
Everybody is talking about last weekend's Saturday Night Live skit with Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg singing "Motherlover," but for you econophiles out there, you might want to skip the pop-comic songfest in favor of the "Geithner Cold Open." "Initially, my department had planned to give each bank a numerical grade of one to 100.
Breakfast Buffet, Friday, May 8
Stress-Free Friday: A stress test wrap-up from the NYT. On Your Marx...: Venezuela's Hugo Chavez responds to the recession by nationalizing the docks and boats owned by oil-services companies like Halliburton and Schlumberger.Gold Bugs Beware: All the bears are screaming "Buy gold!" to hedge against inflation, but check this interactive graphic on the history of gold prices first.
A Modest Proposal: Ban Debt!
Levantine doomsayer Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of "The Black Swan," has been everywhere lately, appearing on a Planet Money podcast last week and then this morning at the New Yorker Summit. (He also co-authored a new research paper.) The upshot of his latest message is extreme: ban debt.Taleb claims that debt is a risk-enabler.
A Dastardly Tax Proposal to Damage U.S. Growth
Obama declared war on corporate tax evaders today, unveiling a plan that will make it harder for companies to hide money offshore indefinitely and, in so doing, raise an extra $103.1 billion over 10 years (according to the Administration's math, at least). (For background, check here.)The response from corporate America was predictable.
Breakfast Buffet, Monday, May 4
The Oracle Speaks: The annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting featured lots of words of wisdom from the Sage of Omaha. Buffett said financiers' greed and stupidity contributed to the crisis and he criticized the bank stress tests.
Breakfast Buffet, Friday, May 1
Another One Bites the Dust: The federal government put Chrysler into bankruptcy protection yesterday, and the New York Times argues that "if the process is prolonged, the costs and complexity would likely ensure that the company would never emerge from bankruptcy proceedings." Obama blamed "a small group of speculators" who "were hoping that everybody else would make sacrifices and they would have to make none," he said. (John Gapper defends the hedge funds and "speculators" here.) The new,...
Breakfast Buffet, Thursday, April 30
Stripped: During a shareholder meeting that at times seemed more like a circus, investors voted to strip Ken Lewis of his chairmanship of the board. The embattled financier will remain CEO of the company -- for now, at least."You Sneeze, You Go Home": That's the rule at Mexico City brokerages, where stock traders slip on face masks in between client phone calls.
Bring Silicon Valley to Wall Street
Rahm Emanuel famously said what everyone was thinking when he noted earlier this year that "a crisis is a terrible thing to waste." The financial industry has been bruised and battered.
Breakfast Buffet, Wednesday, April 29
Stressful Days: Bloomberg reports that six of the country's 19 largest banks will be told to find more capital when the results of the stress quiz, er, test are revealed next week.
Q: How Much Have the Bailouts Cost Us? A: All of the Above.
It's a sign of exactly how complicated our current situation is that even as straightforward a task as tallying how much money the U.S. government has spent so far on bailouts is nearly impossible.
Investment Drops Sharply In Clean Technologies
As oil shot up to $150 a barrel last year, venture capitalists (VCs) poured money into clean technologies like NASA-caliber fuel cells, on the belief that their costly, sci-fi-inspired advances would remain competitive even if oil fell to $50 a barrel.
Breakfast Buffet, Friday, April 24
Sinking...Like a Rock: The auto industry's woes continue. Chrysler will likely file for bankruptcy next week. Meanwhile, Ford lost $1.4 billion last quarter, on top of a $14.6 billion loss in 2008, but says it still won't need a government bailout.What's His Motivation?: A Madoff movie is already in the works.
Why Is Jeff Bezos Smiling?
Because this quarter, in the midst of -- say it with me now -- the worst global recession in 70 years, profit at Amazon.com grew by 24 percent, to $177 million.
The Wondrous Life of Hu Jintao
You've got to hand it to Jim Owens, the CEO of Caterpillar -- he knows how to craft a provocative sentence. Like this one, for instance: "I'd rather be President Hu than President Obama." That's what he told a gathering of the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, DC today. (Hat tip to Real Time Economics.)The reason he'd prefer a seat of power in Beijing over Washington right now is that the task for China's leaders is to encourage consumer spending, telling their citizens, in effect, to...
Just Charge It
Today in encouraging news: Obama has called credit card CEOs to the White House. They'll meet on Thursday and, according to McClatchy, Obama will "stress the need for greater clarity in the way that credit cards are marketed and administered."This of course is a preliminary step in reining in shoddy lending practices, which extended not just to mortgages but credit cards and other consumer loans.
Has Any Good Come From Financial Innovation?
Is financial innovation good for society? In a speech last week, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke gave a qualified yes. Financial innovation really picked up after 1980, and "I don't think anyone wants to go back to the 1970s," he said.Ryan Avent, the new blogger-in-chief over at Portfolio's Market Movers, thought that statement rather funny:According to Bernanke, no one, "wants to go back to the 1970s," but neither could Bernanke point to a truly helpful piece of financial innovation...
Breakfast Buffet, Monday, April 20
America Is "Fill in the Blank": We've already heard that America is Russia, America is Japan, and America is a developing country. Here's another hat to try on: Krugman says America is Irish. (And it has nothing to do with how much Guinness we drink.) Really?
Apples and Oranges: Dotcom vs Housing Bubbles
History repeats itself, but not without a few wrinkles. We make the connections, then we pick them apart.
Breakfast Buffet, Friday, April 17
Me Too!: Citigroup follows in Goldman Sachs's footsteps and says it had its best quarter since 2007. Is it just coincidence that the banks sprung to sudden health as soon as mark-to-market rules were relaxed?
Breakfast Buffet, Wednesday, April 15
Green Acres: Two-thirds of Japan's full-time farmers are 65 or older, and some are hoping that mounting job losses in the corporate sector result in younger workers going back to the fields.