Your Must-Read of the Day, Wall St. Edition
March 26, 2012
Bloomberg has an absolutely terrific piece of reporting out today about how the big banks have mobilized to water down the Volcker Rule—the reform measure designed to prevent federally-backed banks from placing bets for their own bottom line. Here’s the gist: To make their case in Washington, banks and trade associations have been pressing a coordinated campaign to get regulators from five federal agencies to scale back the draft of the proprietary-trading rule issued in October, according to public and internal documents and interviews.
Like wolves and teenagers, literary scandals travel in packs, and the first of the spring are already upon us. First came The Lifespan of a Fact, a new book by essayist John D’Agata and his fact-checker Jim Fingal, which presents the blood-and-tears saga of Fingal’s seven-year-long attempt to verify a piece by D’Agata about the suicide of a Las Vegas teenager.
Global Innovation: The Metropolitan Edition
March 16, 2012
It is increasingly well understood that cities are the primary location and mechanism of innovation and, in turn, prosperity (see “The Triumph of the City” or urban scaling). But which cities are the most innovative on earth? For a long time, getting sub-national economic data for a large number of countries was impossible, but no longer. New data from the OECD show which cities have the most inventors in the world, measured by those who apply for patent protection in multiple countries (under the Patent Cooperation Treaty).
Carmelo Anthony and the NBA’s One Percent Problem
March 16, 2012
For weeks I had eagerly anticipated the arrival of March 14, 2012, when I would attend my first New York Knicks game of the season at Madison Square Garden. I bought the tickets a month before, after the Knicks had won five games in a row with Jeremy Lin leading the charge. I wasn’t sure if Linsanity would last, but I figured the Knicks were on solid footing for the rest of the year. As a hardened life-long Knicks fan, of course, I should have known to prepare for the worst. As I entered the arena, the Knicks franchise was once again in a familiar state of disarray.
The Big Split
March 14, 2012
In May 2007, when Barack Obama was but an upstart challenger of Hillary Clinton, he attended a gathering of several dozen hedge fund managers hosted by Goldman Sachs at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It was not a fund-raiser, just a chance for Obama to introduce himself to the investment wizards who had helped turn the hedge fund sector into the most lucrative and alluring corner of the financial universe. And the first question for Obama was as blunt as one would expect from this crowd.
Tracing Europe’s Long Road to Economic Catastrophe
March 09, 2012
The economic crisis in Europe reached its latest crescendo last night, as Greece managed, through furious last-minute negotiations, to convince its creditors to give it some more breathing room. But if the Greeks have managed to stave off ruin for a few more minutes, nothing has essentially changed in their situation: Their economy is still in shambles. The burning question on most observers’ minds, and rightfully so, is whether the Greeks will ever manage to pay back their debts. But at this stage, it’s also worth considering how we ended up on the precipice of such catastrophe at all.
Was ‘Frankenstein’ Really About Childbirth?
March 07, 2012
“I have no doubt of seeing the animal today,” Mary Wollstonecraft wrote hastily to her husband, William Godwin, on August 30, 1797, as she waited for the midwife who would help her deliver the couple’s first child. The “animal” was Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, who would grow up to be Mary Shelley, wife of the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and author of Frankenstein, one of the most enduring and influential novels of the nineteenth century.
The False Promise of the New York City Teacher Evaluations
March 06, 2012
[Guest post by Simon van Zuylen-Wood] On February 16th, New York state officials agreed on a new teacher evaluation system that will use student standardized test scores to help determine teacher tenure and dismissals. The previous model, in which 97 percent of New York City teachers were deemed “satisfactory,” was based solely on classroom observations. While the deal signals an important compromise between Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has pushed for more teacher accountability, and the state teachers union, the real news came a week later.
Santorum and the Idiocy of Home Schooling
March 03, 2012
No sooner had Mitt Romney triumphed in the Michigan primary than Rick Santorum edged into his victory by succeeding in winning an equal number of delegates. Romney polled 3 percent higher than Santorum in the popular vote. But that meant nothing in the arcana of counting at the polls that will be translated into 15 delegates each at the Tampa convention in August.
“Broken Windows” Revisited
March 02, 2012
Obituaries for the eminent conservative political scientist James Q. Wilson, who died early this morning, are playing up Wilson's co-authorship, with George Kelling, of the "broken windows" theory of crime. That's a disservice, for two reasons. The first is that Wilson, who was already well established when his influential "Broken Windows" essay was published in the Atlantic, was not that theory's principal architect; the thesis grew out of research Kelling had performed previously for the Police Foundation.