Justin WolfersPhoto links here, here, here, here, here and here.
Praying is hard sometimes but it’s nowhere near as difficult as flossing regularly.--Sammy Adebiyi
There's a lot of (justifiable) chest beating over Android at Google these days -- a corporate development VP has called the Android acquisition Google's "best deal ever" -- but in hindsight the overwhelming success of Android is kind of a miracle. Big tech companies screw up many if not most of their acquisitions, letting them wither from corporate neglect or driving out founders and other talent with their inflexible cultures and protocols. (Skype buyer Microsoft (MSFT), are you listening?) Even Google can be guilty of this too (dMarc, Dodgeball), but its management of Android is a textbook example of a deal gone terribly right: Rubin and his team thrived in Google's engineering-driven culture, which encouraged innovation by letting Android release less-than-perfect versions that it would continually upgrade. Google also embraced Rubin's vision of giving the operating system away -- a gambit, enabled by Google's broader ad-based business model, that stoked adoption of the platform. But Android ultimately triumphed thanks in large part to its corporate benefactors: Google co-founders Page and Brin saw the broader potential of Android almost from the outset. For the young entrepreneurs Android was more than just another software acquisition. It was the centerpiece of their grand vision to transform the telecommunications industry and make it more open and accessible -- in short, more like the Internet.--Beth Kowitt
Under Basel II in December 2009, Greek government bonds, rated A-/A2, had the same 20 percent risk weight as AA/AAA asset-backed securities in the United States. It seemed like easy money, and banks levered it up. As usual, regulations did not alleviate the problem, rather, they encouraged it.--Eric Falkenstein
Three years ago, Iceland forced its over-leveraged financial sector into a painful debt restructuring instead of bailing out its banks. The government had no other choice: Icelandic banks' assets totalled roughly 1,000% of GDP, and in the world's smallest currency area, no less. The central bank could not take on the role of lender of last resort without igniting a currency crisis. Critics dubbed this response disastrous, and Iceland served as the cautionary tale of an "Icarus economy" whose banks had grown too big to save. Today, though Iceland's banking system defaulted, its government remains solvent, with debt levels close to the European average of between 80% and 90% of GDP. Iceland's luck was that it did not qualify for a bailout. ... There may be no better contrast between restructuring versus bailouts than to compare Iceland to Ireland. Dublin faced the same predicament as Reykjavik in 2008, but it responded with a blanket guarantee that turned Irish taxpayers' money into collateral for Irish bank debts. Rating agencies and so-called experts hailed the move at the time, in part because Dublin had the euro and the mighty German state vouching for its credibility. But Iceland's experience of botched government takeovers and private-capital flight has also played out in Ireland—only much more slowly and, arguably, more painfully. The crucial difference between Iceland and Ireland is that Icelandic taxpayers relinquished responsibility for their banks' bondholders, while their Irish counterparts are on the hook for their banks' crushing debts. Even worse, we may not have seen the full scale of the Irish banking system's losses, given that it remains on government life support. It is becoming clearer by the day that too many of Europe's banking crises were initially misdiagnosed as liquidity, rather than solvency, problems. For some countries, most notably Ireland, the policies prescribed for that misdiagnosis have transformed banking crises into sovereign-debt crises. --ÁSGEIR JóNSSON