Weil's View on Finance, Afternoon Edition

Jonathan Weil joined Bloomberg News as a columnist in 2007, and his columns on finance and accounting won Best in the Business awards from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers in 2009 and 2010.
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Happy Friday, View fans. Here are your afternoon reads.

Learning about hyperinflation by studying Syria

Steve Hanke, a professor at Johns Hopkins University and director of the Cato Institute's Troubled Currencies Project, estimates that Syria's inflation rate was 240 percent as of yesterday, based on black-market exchange rates. Matthew O'Brien of the Atlantic writes: "Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon. But hyperinflation is actually always and everywhere a political phenomenon."

Fed isn't the only reason the emerging-market party is ending

Ricardo Hausmann, a Harvard professor and former chief economist of the Inter-American Development Bank, says the Federal Reserve's planned cuts in large-scale asset purchases aren't the only reason why emerging-market stocks and bonds are down. For most emerging-market countries, economic growth from 2003 to 2011 "was caused by terms-of-trade improvements, capital inflows, and real appreciation. These mean-reverting processes are, well, reverting, implying that the buoyant performance of the recent past is unlikely to return any time soon."

Who will take over when the star hedge-fund manager bolts?

Gillian Tett of the Financial Times tackles the subject of hedge-fund succession: "For the grim fact is that when it comes to creating an orderly succession, most hedge fund leaders have done a dismal job. Some luminaries have hung on as they have grown older, convinced that no one else can replicate their genius. Others have passed the baton over to younger managers - only to see investors pull their money when the `star' leaves."

Straight talk about European banks' balance sheets

Yves Mersch, a member of the European Central Bank's executive board, gave a speech yesterday touting the need for a banking union in Europe. Whether you believe one is feasible, his comments about investor confidence were spot on. "Investor confidence has been damaged by the perception that some supervisors have not been tough enough with their domestic banks. The average price-to-book ratio of large and complex banking groups in the euro area, for instance, is currently only 0.5, which implies that investors think banks are overvaluing their assets, will not meet their required rates of return, or will require new capital." But will a single banking supervisor for all of the European Union be any tougher?

Weekend accounting humor , starring Kenny G and Robert Plant

Going Concern, which always has the best accounting jokes, does it again. See if you can guess which celebrities are accountants and which aren't. A couple of these will surprise you. Have a great Labor Day weekend.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

To contact the author on this story:
Jonathan Weil at jweil16@bloomberg.net