Night Time Reading: 2009-09-01
Since I have a ton of links, I am making an extra night time reading version today. Expect more tomorrow, but posting may be light as I will be away.
“American Casino”—a terrific documentary chronicling the subprime-mortgage mess and the financial collapse of the past two years
There is a long and remarkable article in the current New Yorker about a man who was executed in Texas in 2004 for deliberately setting a fire that killed his three small children. Rigorous scientific analysis has since shown that there was no evidence that the fire in a one-story, wood frame house in Corsicana was the result of arson, as the authorities had alleged.
Another newspaper bankruptcy. Freedom Communications, the media company that owns the Orange County Register and more than 30 other dailies, filed for bankruptcy on Tuesday as part of a debt reorganization plan that has the blessing of its creditors.
"This is what happens when you live in a bankrupt state: one by one the big exchanges stop trading with you."
You just knew all that Tetris playing you did as a kid yesterday was good for you, huh? A new study published by the big thinkers at Mind Research Network has found that "practicing Tetris" can actually improve brain efficiency and lead to a thicker cortex in other areas of the tabula rasa.
I missed this as I was off on holiday when it came out. Very funny in a black humor way. "Something’s in the air. You can feel it. A new bull. Hype? Maybe, but also a roaring new bull — and eventually another meltdown."
If you’ve rooted your Android phone with a custom ROM, you’ve already got a snappier OS. With a few free apps, you can free up memory for even better performance and keep your ROM up to the bleeding edge.
Hat tip Stacy Herbert. "It sounds almost too good to be true: a health care plan with no limits, no deductibles, free medicines, tests, X-rays, eyeglasses, even dental work — all for a flat fee of $250 or less a year. To get it, you just have to move to Mexico."
On April 17, 2007, famed short-seller Jim Chanos and other hedge fund managers met under tight security at the World Bank in Washington for the G-8 meeting. Chanos and Paul Singer briefed prominent policy officials about the growing financial instability. They gave irrefutable evidence that a catastrophe was building. They told officials that banks that were about to sink the global economy. They called for decisive action. And they were ignored.
While the official personal savings rate has always been positive, though trending down over time since 1982 until 2008, the unofficial personal savings rate has trended down since WWII, turning negative in the 1970s, and exceeding -10% for much of the 2000s . . .
The buyers will pay eBay $1.9 billion in cash, which includes a loan from eBay of $125 million, for 65 percent of the company, The New York Times’s Brad Stone reports. EBay will retain 35 percent equity investment in Skype, which is on track to take in more than $600 million in revenue this year. The deal values Skype at $2.75 billion, a higher price than many expected for the calling service. Many analysts thought eBay grossly overpaid when it acquired Skype in 2005 for $2.1 billion.
I thought a near-death experience would have changed this. Puzzling. "Commerzbank AG aims to overtake Deutsche Bank AG, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley to become the biggest investment bank in Germany, Handelsblatt reported, citing an interview with board member Michael Reuther. "
Meltzer takes on Krugman and company. "Day after day, economists, politicians and journalists repeat the trope that the current recession is the worst since the Great Depression. Repetition may reinforce belief, but the comparison is greatly overstated and highly misleading. Anyone who knows even a bit about the Great Depression knows that this is false."
Hat Tip Tracy Alloway. "Paul Tudor Jones, the billionaire hedge-fund manager who outperformed peers last year, is wagering that Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley got it wrong in declaring the start of an economic recovery. "
The centre-right government of Brian Cowen, prime minister, now faces the task of trying to mobilise public support for what is almost certain to be the most severe austerity programme Ireland has undertaken in its 88 years of independence.
"Casey Mulligan’s first blog post was about as wrong as it is possible to be for a tenured professor of economics. Just something to think about as his analysis of current economic affairs continues to pop up, week after week, in the New York Times."
A European Union ban on the manufacture and import of 100 watt and frosted incandescent light bulbs, in use since the 19th Century, has come into force.
The British Prime Minister speaks to the FT
The state-sanctioned China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said its purchasing managers index rose to 54 from July’s 53.3 on a 100-point scale where numbers above 50 show activity expanding. It marked the sixth month of expansion. The HSBC China Manufacturing PMI rose to 55.1 from July’s 52.8, its fifth monthly increase. The survey previously was issued by Hong Kong brokerage CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets.
PetroChina has agreed to pay C$1.9bn (US$1.7bn) for a majority stake in two oil sands projects in northern Alberta in the latest of several Chinese investments to help develop the world’s second-biggest oil reserves… The two projects, known as Mackay River and Dover, are being developed by Athabasca Oil Sands, a privately held Calgary-based group…PetroChina will acquire a 60 per cent stake in the two projects.
Skype is expected to be sold to a group of private investors, including Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen and private equity firms.