Weil on Finance, P.M.: China's Washington Awakening

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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Howdy, View fans. And now on with this afternoon's links.

It's always spring in the commune

Some of my favorite things to read are English translations of old propaganda posters from Communist countries, especially China. You just can't make up stuff like: "Drag out the counter-revolutionary revisionist elements and expose them!" Or this: "Criticize the old world and build a new world with Mao Zedong Thought as a weapon." So in that spirit it was great fun to read the latest diatribe from China's state-owned Xinhua News Agency about the U.S. debt-ceiling showdown: "Such alarming days when the destinies of others are in the hands of a hypocritical nation have to be terminated, and a new world order should be put in place, according to which all nations, big or small, poor or rich, can have their key interests respected and protected on an equal footing."

Insider-trading laws and the derivatives markets

Via Harvard Law School's corporate-governance blog, here's an academic paper by Vanderbilt Law School professor Yesha Yadav who shows how out-of-date U.S. insider-trading laws are when it comes to credit-default swaps: "Lenders use CDS to trade the risk of the loans they make. And, when they engage in such trading, they are usually privy to vast reserves of confidential information on their borrowers. From a doctrinal perspective, CDS appear to subvert insider trading laws by their very design, insofar as lenders rely on what looks like insider information to transfer the risk of a loan to another institution."

Short sales on the rise

Hedge funds have "pushed short sales close to the highest level of the year just as the U.S. budget impasse spurred a doubling in volatility," write Bloomberg News reporters Nikolaj Gammeltoft and Whitney Kisling. Then again, the most heavily shorted stocks are up 38 percent since January.

Larry Summers is back to being an ink-stained wretch again

Now that he's no longer angling to be the next Federal Reserve chairman, the former Treasury secretary is back to writing for the Financial Times. His latest post is about the debt-ceiling showdown: "It seems likely that this episode, like the 1995-96 government shutdowns and the 2011 debt limit scare, will be remembered mainly by the people directly involved. But there is a chance future historians will see today's crisis as the turning point when American democracy was shown to be dysfunctional - an example to be avoided rather than emulated."

Don't do these Google searches before robbing a bank

This comes from today's Patriot-Ledger in Quincy, Massachusetts, about the arrest of a woman accused of robbing a bank in nearby Weymouth. When police checked her computer, they said it showed recent searches for "if you're going to rob a bank," "what happens if you rob a bank," "what happens if you rob a house," and "what happens if you rob a drug dealer." Never underestimate the importance of deleting your browsing history.

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