Tag Archives: Finance

My Story at The New Yorker: Unseen Hands and The Prices of Things

For The New Yorker‘s business blog, I interview Kate Kelly, a reporter for CNBC, and author of the new book “The Secret Club That Rules the World.”

Why is it important that the public pay more attention to the commodities markets?

The contract market in commodities is analogous to the stock market for public corporations, essentially this unseen hand playing a role in setting the price for actual commodities: corn, copper, oil, gasoline, wheat, and so on. I think the connections between the trading community and the actual cash prices are not fully understood, and I think it’s something we all need to be concerned and upset about.

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Wall Street Rewired: Apple, Icahn, and the $17 Billion Tweet

“With just two tweets, Carl Icahn raised the value of the Apple empire by $17 billion. That’s $8.5 billion per tweet, and about $62 million per character — including spaces,” writes Cade Metz of Wired.

Indeed, the Securities and Exchange Commission has recently said that companies can use social media to disclose financial information — provided they warn investors that it might happen. Icahn’s investment outfit, Icahn Enterprises, did warn the market, saying — in a notice filed with the SEC a day earlier — that he intended to “use Twitter from time to time to communicate with the public about our company and other issues.”

And even that may not have been necessary. With his Tuesday afternoon tweets, the only thing Icahn revealed about his own company is that it owns some Apple stock. You could argue that such a basic disclosure didn’t require formal notice with the SEC.

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From Spaceships and Sagan to Mobile Apps and Zuckerberg: The Limits Of Venture Capital

Josh Lerner writes in MIT’s Technology Review:

But claims that venture capital is a driver of true innovation, or even of positive financial returns to investors, face some hard questions. With the industry facing a hangover from its recent flurry of social-media investing and the disappointing stock-market performance of firms such as Groupon, Zynga, and Facebook, the skeptics have been rarely been as loud as they are today.

Quoting the power investor, Peter Thiel, Mr. Lerner reflects on the state of innovation and investment: “We wanted flying cars. Instead, we got 140 characters.” Citing the concentration of investment in narrow market-categories, the frenzy to invest in fad industries (social media), and the short-sightedness and volatility of public markets, Mr. Lerner argues that venture capital is not the spark of innovation that we think it is.

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