NorthSider's Semi-Regular, Curated Linkwrap - November 2014

All too often lately, it seems, I am behind on replying to private messages. Though it is my sincerest intention to follow up on each item in my backlog, there is one question I receive more than all others: Which newspapers, blogs, periodicals, books, editorialists, academics, etc. do you follow?

As such, opportunism beckons. To the end of clearing a fair portion of my PM inventory, I have decided to initiate a semi-regular, curated linkwrap of writing on which I've been musing.

Just how regular these posts will be, I cannot say. But I will do my very best to offer content that is thematically manifold, disputatious, and discerning. Often, I will point to multiple articles offering variant views on a singular topic; always, the material will be interdisciplinary and perhaps a bit pedantic.

I do count on seeing you back here. And, as ever, I hope to galvanize your deepest animosity, which you are free - nay, encouraged - to expel in the comments.

-NorthSider

***

  1. Amazon and Hachette Squabble in the Limelight: About a month ago, Paul Krugman, as he is so prone, ruffled the feathers with a NYT op-ed cursing Amazon's supposed monopsonic power. Debate surrounds Amazon's long-standing and subsequently-resolved hardball negotiations with major publishing house, Hachette. For some extended period of time, Amazon went about removing Hachette's books (which include, inter alia, those of Malcolm Gladwell, James Patterson and the lovely Joel Osteen) from Prime shipping and sometimes introduced delays of weeks or more. Here you can read a bit more background on the tactics and here you can read about the resolution printed last week, but what's important is that commentators have some strong opinions re: Amazon, book publishing, value chain dynamics and digital revolutions. I've linked a few. In the spirit of getting everyone to read articles with which they will inevitably disagree, I won't be portending key takeaways. (The Economist) (Joshua Gains, Digitopoly) (As Simply As Possible) (Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution) (Keith Gessen, Vanity Fair [long-form])

  2. Is a Hedge Fund Cornering the LME's Copper Contracts?: Back in September, Reuters natural resources columnist, Andy Hope, noted a heavy concentration of LME Copper in the hands of a single owner. More than a month later, the Wall Street Journal reported the identity of the owner, viz., metals specialty hedge fund, Red Kite. Matt Levine at Bloomberg View picked up the story as a follow up to a similar piece he wrote on Goldman Sachs' supposed aluminum market manipulation earlier this year. Levine is judiciously skeptical of the idea that a (relatively) insignificant hedge fund (or even Goldman Sachs!) could so easily "manipulate" the LME's markets. On the other hand, Streetwise Professor was quick to chide Levine's naivety and capitalized on Levine's follow up to drive his point home. The economic role of warehouse exchanges and location-agnostic warrants is a meaty topic to ponder - I invite you to Google around. The only thing certain in this case is that copper prices have stubbornly resisted the Professor's cornering concerns.

  3. Speaking of Manipulation, What About the FX Settlements? As all of you regular finance nerds no doubt have read, the banks last week settled charges related to alleged foreign exchange market manipulation to the tune of - you guessed it - many billions of dollars. Dan Davies has some shrewd observations on the matter, which are echoed lucidly by Matt Levine. Less forgiving are the op-ed pages of the Financial Times, suggesting that shift bankers deserve criminal sanctions, to boot. In any case, this latest onslaught of fines seems to have triggered renewed interest in tracing the SEC's rather curious recent occupation with non-transparent ETFs. Earlier this month, the SEC granted preliminary approval to an Eaton Vance "exchange-traded managed fund". Just what concerns the SEC about intraday trading of non-transparent funds is a miniature mystery.

  4. Whatever Happened to Stephen Glass and All His Plagiaristic Fanfare? A reflective and sympathetic profile on the notorious author-turned-paralegal as he lives today. (Hanna Rosin, The New Republic)

What's on my Current Reading List: The Sense of Style, Steven Pinker; Moonwalking with Einstein, Joshua Foer

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