Weil on Finance, P.M.: Passing on Moody's

Here are links to some of my afternoon reading.

Happy Friday afternoon, View fans. Time for more fun with links. Have a great weekend.

Who needs Moody's to help sell junky mortgage bonds anyway?

Wall Street banks are hiring Moody's Investors Service less often to rate the riskier portions of bonds backed by commercial mortgages. Sarah Mulholland of Bloomberg News writes that it's "a sign the credit grader isn't willing to stamp the debt investment-grade amid deteriorating underwriting standards." Deals are still getting done, so it also may be a sign that investors don't put much stock in what Moody's says. (Imagine that.) Moody's didn't offer a grade on the lower-ranking debt in nine of the 14 commercial-mortgage bond transactions that it has rated since mid-July, according to Jefferies Group.

You know, Netflix's CEO just might know what he's talking about

Tesla Motors Inc.'s Elon Musk isn't the only CEO to say recently that his company's stock is overvalued. Reed Hastings of Netflix Inc. said pretty much the same thing this week, before Carl Icahn's disclosure that he had sold half his stake in the company. Kevin Kelleher's take at PandoDaily: "Netflix is now trading around where it was the day before it reported earnings. It's like this whole absurd episode never happened, and many investors are still happy to buy the stock at this level. But when a company's CEO and a major shareholder are telling you that this stock is getting too expensive, maybe it's worth taking a second and considering whether they have a point. Even in this market."

Why is Starbucks more expensive in Beijing than in London?

Qiao Xinsheng, a professor at Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, has a simple explanation to end this ridiculous controversy, which has been all over China's state-run media for the past week. The answer: "Because China is an emerging economy forcing hidden costs on companies and Britain isn't."

Grunge rock, coffee and now Twitter trends

From the Seattle Times, citing a study by Indiana University researchers: "Seattle is the source of more trending topics on Twitter than any other U.S. city. Take, for example, #ICanAdmit. This hashtag is used when tweeting something confessional." Seattle emerged as "Twitter's top trend incubator: 1,187 Twitter topics that first became popular in Seattle went on to make the top 10 in other cities around the nation and the world." No. 2 was Los Angeles. Equally interesting is that university researchers can get an academic study out of this.

Barry Ritholtz's moment of zen

The Big Picture blogger has a good Top 10 list of things for investors to understand if they want to decrease meaningless distractions in their portfolios and their lives. He calls it "More signal, less noise." Thing No. 1: "News is old -- it is misnamed and not especially forward looking." So I guess you should ignore all the articles I just linked to. Sigh.

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