Morgan Stanley

Boardwalk Vampires

The ghosts of Atlantic City have nowhere to hide.

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Political polarization has become an obstacle to economic growth because it is increasing uncertainty, and delaying new private sector investment and hiring. That’s the view emerging from the business community and—increasingly—from the economics profession. Earlier this month, in a front-page New York Times story, a number of CEOs gave voice to their fears about the fiscal cliff and the broader policy impasse in Congress. According to Vincent Reinhart, chief U.S.

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Moralizing Technology: Understanding and Designing the Morality of Things  By Peter-Paul Verbeek  (University of Chicago Press, 183 pp., $25) JUST WEST OF SEOUL, on a man-made island in the Yellow Sea, a city is rising. Slated for completion by 2015, Songdo has been meticulously planned by engineers and architects and lavishly financed by money from the American real estate company Gale International and the investment bank Morgan Stanley.

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When we last left Morgan Stanley, the company was taking all manner of abuse for botching the biggest IPO of the millennium. Alas, that turns out to be the least of its problems. Far more pressing is the fact that Moody’s may be on the verge of massively downgrading Morgan Stanley’s bond rating, which could cost the company billions of dollars (perhaps tens of billions) in collateral and increased borrowing costs.  Then yesterday’s Financial Times brought even worse news.

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If you want to read a radical critique of twenty-first century American capitalism, skip the Daily Worker and go straight to Wall Street. A 2005 report by three Citigroup analysts coined the term “plutonomy” to describe an economy in which only the rich matter.

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[Guest post by James Downie] Jon Chait and Jon Cohn's skeptical posts about Roger Altman highlight his public statements, and the possible pick becomes even sketchier when considering his maneuvering behind the scenes. From Andrew Ross Sorkin's Too Big to Fail: The independent board members [of Morgan Stanley], led by the lead director, C. Robert Kidder, decided they needed to hire an independent adviser and, after a short conversation, chose Roger Altman, the former deputy Treasury secretary and founder of the boutique bank Evercore Partners (and Dick Fuld’s former carpool-mate).

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As we’ve pointed out, local governments across the country are facing severe budget gaps as the fiscal effects of declining house prices and tightfisted consumers wreak havoc on property and sales tax revenues. With federal stimulus dollars beginning to run their course, many cities are turning to what Crosscut’s David Brewster in Seattle calls “motherhood” ballot measures to fund popular or necessary expenditures while leaving less sexy line items in the general budget.

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[Guest post by Noam Scheiber:]  Felix Salmon is chiding me for an "unconvincing" critique of Sebastian Mallaby's recent book on hedge funds, More Money Than God. He says shifting risk from banks to hedge funds would in fact make the system safe for failure:  Scheiber is worried that people like Morgan Stanley’s Howie Hubler — who lost $9 billion at what was essentially an in-house hedge fund — will simply now repeat their failures at standalone funds, if banks are barred from taking those kind of bets. But that misses the point.

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Louis D. Brandeis: A Life By Melvin I. Urofsky (Pantheon, 955 pp., $40) I. In 1916, Herbert Croly, the founder and editor of The New Republic, wrote to Willard Straight, the owner of the magazine, about the Supreme Court nomination of Louis Brandeis. Croly enclosed a draft editorial called “The Motive of Class Consciousness,” and also a chart prepared by a lawyer in Brandeis’s office showing the overlapping financial interests, social and business connections, and directorships of fifty-two prominent Bostonians who had signed a petition opposing Brandeis’s nomination.

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The Breakup

Did Obama just dump his best friend on Wall Street?

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