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Big Pharma Pays to Publish its own "Journals"

Reading Time: < 1 minute The Scientist reports that Elsevier, the world’s leading publisher of scientific and medical texts, has taken money from Merck and other pharmaceutical companies to issue official-looking journals that subtly pushed their products. Scientific publishing giant Elsevier put out a total of six publications between 2000 and 2005 that were sponsored by unnamed pharmaceutical companies and Read More

What is the New York Times saying?

Reading Time: 2 minutes In an article titled “Debate on Trump Project takes the Low Road,” about some troubling goings-on in the hamlet of Balmedie, Scotland, the lead paragraphs read as follows: Since refusing to let Donald Trump buy his house, inconveniently located in the middle of Mr. Trump’s planned $1.5 billion development in the countryside here, Michael Forbes Read More

The Noblest and Best

Reading Time: < 1 minute The Wall Street Journal published a stunning report yesterday on how New York Federal Reserve Chairman Stephen Friedman enriched himself by purchasing Goldman Sachs stock while the Federal Reserve was propping up the investment bank: The Federal Reserve Bank of New York shaped Washington’s response to the financial crisis late last year, which buoyed Goldman Read More

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Derivatives and Debauchery

Reading Time: 2 minutes The UK Independent recently published fascinating reminiscences by former UBS trader Philipp Meyer about his debauched life as an investment banker. The grotesque extravagance he describes seems straight out of Petronius’s Satyricon. I put on 45 pounds in my first year at the bank, and, as you might guess, it was not from eating McDonalds. Read More

Ownership Society

Reading Time: 2 minutes Last Thursday, April 30, there was a flood of stories that the evening news and the next morning’s papers had to cover: swine flu, Souter’s retirement from the Supreme Court, and the Chrysler bankruptcy, for starters. But the story with perhaps the largest public import somehow managed to escape attention, namely the Senate’s decision to Read More

Wall Street Back on Top

Reading Time: 2 minutes On Newsweek’s website, Michael Hirsh writes under the headline “The old system refuses to change. Is Obama getting the message?” He describes a late-March meeting between six Democratic senators, President Obama and his economic advisers—a meeting that has gone essentially unreported: …while they supported Obama, they were worried. The financial reform policies the president was Read More

Socially Unconscious

Reading Time: 2 minutes Are you one of those who tries to buy the offbeat brands, because they’re made by small, locally-owned, family businesses, and tend to use more wholesome ingredients than the giant manufacturers? As someone who makes an effort in that regard, I sometimes wonder whether the companies are indeed the delightful anachronisms they present themselves as. Read More

Did Geithner Aid and Abet Citigroup?

Reading Time: 3 minutes The Washington Post, in conjunction with ProPublica, published a long investigative piece today on Timothy Geithner’s tenure as head of the New York Federal Reserve. The article particularly focuses on his oversight of Citigroup, the largest bank under the New York Fed’s authority and the recent recipient of $45 billion in TARP money. Under the Read More

The Tycoon

Reading Time: < 1 minute Here’s a passionate tirade about the damage done to journalism by media tycoon Conrad Black and other greedy, marauding owners. Black went to prison for criminal fraud in looting his properties, but, typically, is unrepentant and finding even that stint simply another chapter of a charmed life. Black, a member of the British House of Read More

Gold Rush for Lobbyists

Reading Time: < 1 minute Reform may be in the air, but the Sunlight Foundation has a new report noting that nearly 1,700 new clients have signed up with lobbying firms in DC in the first quarter of 2009. Sunlight describes their initial findings as a “first pass” at scrutinizing a database of lobbying registrations. Of particular interest: Our first Read More

Of Bonuses and Shelters

Reading Time: < 1 minute Stories about homelessness and the spread of tent cities abound. It has always been difficult to get an accurate number on how many people are without shelter, but homelessness groups have estimated that on a given night in one of the worst months of a typical recent year, that figure might near 800,000. Say it Read More

Meet Lloyd Blankfein

Reading Time: 3 minutes The Wall Street Journal has disclosed that Lloyd Blankfein was present at the meetings with Tim Geithner and Hank Paulson when the decision was made to bail out AIG, which had sold credit default swaps to Goldman Sachs on which AIG was unable to make good.  Goldman’s stock had plummeted to 35, wiping out vast Read More

Etymology as Journalism

Reading Time: 2 minutes Phraseology is fundamental to today’s political battles. Lobbyists, political strategists, corporate PR reps, and even academics expend an extraordinary amount of thought and money on framing issues with just the right label. Expressions like “bridge to nowhere” simply don’t arise from ordinary discourse. Consequently, journalists have to become etymologists to cover politics adequately.  Anytime they hear Read More

Railroading Good Government

Reading Time: 2 minutes The panic over government getting directly involved in running companies that can’t survive without federal support may be misguided. New York Times business reporter Louis Uchitelle makes this point, noting that As General Motors and Chrysler struggle to remain solvent, the railroad bailout of a generation ago could offer a template to the Obama administration Read More

By What Name Shall Ye Know Them?

Reading Time: 3 minutes Journalists tend to lean on simplified words and phrases to explain complex topics to a general audience.  Too often, though, they don’t consider whether their language is ideologically loaded or favors certain interests over others. Consider, for example, the ways used to describe the mortgage-backed securities at the root of the financial crisis.  The most Read More

Where Did the Money Go?

Reading Time: 2 minutes Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has resisted calls from Congress that he release the names of the banks that were recipients of the bailout money the Fed gave to AIG to prevent it from collapsing. AIG insured its counterparties against losses from mortgage backed derivatives. The Fed poured $85 billion into AIG, which paid out $37.3 Read More