Weil's Views 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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Greetings, dear readers. And now on to this afternoon's links. Here's some of what I've been reading today.

We are the Fed

The headline on Caroline Salas Gage's story for Bloomberg News says it all: "Fed Belongs to Everybody as Public Says It's Our Money." Picking a new Federal Reserve chairman didn't used to be such a big deal -- before the financial-crisis bailouts. The unprecedented frenzy surrounding Ben Bernanke's potential successor "shows that Americans won't let the central bank go back to its opaque and secretive ways," she writes.

Painful short (and I'm not talking electricity)

The amount of short selling of Tesla Motors shares has plunged as the electric-car maker's stock has soared. But it's still almost two-thirds of the supply of shares that can be borrowed, according to the Wall Street Journal. The stock was up 14 percent today after investors liked what they saw in Tesla's second-quarter numbers.

Realtors are loving Bernanke's easy-money policies

Here are the numbers from a report today by the National Association of Realtors. The median price for single-family homes increased in 87 percent of U.S. cities during the second quarter, with 142 out of 163 metro areas showing gains compared with year-earlier figures. Fifty areas, 31 percent, had gains of 10 percent or more. Meanwhile, Fannie Mae posted a $10.2 billion quarterly profit, while Freddie Mac reported second-quarter earnings of $5 billion. Maybe it wasn't a mistake for the A&E cable network to keep "Flip This House" on the air after all.

Do you know who has your Swiss bank-account numbers?

Superb story by Doreen Carvajal and Raphael Minder in the New York Times today about "the Edward Snowden of banking -- who has been hunted by Swiss investigators, jailed by Spaniards and claims to have been kidnapped by Israeli Mossad agents eager for a glimpse of the client data he stole while working for a major financial institution in Geneva." A fugitive since 2008, he sat down for a two-hour interview over lunch. Then he had to run.

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