Audit Notes: Stocks Fed, Stadium Economics, Dumb-Question Headlines

Gretchen Morgenson had an interesting quote in her column yesterday riffing off Bloomberg’s investigation into $1.2 trillion of Fed bailouts:

(American Institute for Economic Research’s Walker F.) Todd also questioned the Fed’s decision to accept stock as collateral backing a loan to a bank. “If you make a loan in an emergency secured by equities, how is that different in substance from the Fed walking into the New York Stock Exchange and buying across the board tomorrow?” he asked. “And yet this, the Fed has steadfastly denied ever doing.”

Bloomberg reported that the Fed accepted stocks as collateral for its unprecedented emergency loans. It didn’t calculate how much stock it took on, but it said that Morgan Stanley gave the Fed $21.5 billion in stock, which is about one-third of the collateral it put up for $61.3 billion in loans.

Sure, the U.S. stock market alone is worth many trillions of dollars of course, but most of it isn’t turned over in any given day. Back in 2008, the New York Stock Exchange turned over about 1.4 times a year.

How much total stock did the Fed take on in exchange for that $1.2 trillion? Whose shares were they? Did it effectively subsidize the stock market by preventing banks from forced-selling of tens of billions of dollars of shares all at once?

— Atrios says twenty-three words all you need to know about the economics of subsidizing football stadiums:

It is a mystery to me why anyone thinks a sport with 8 home games per year can provide a local economic boost.

— I almost always find question headlines annoying. But dumb-question headlines can mar a whole piece.

Take this New York Times Magazine story this weekend that ran under this headline:

Does America Need Manufacturing?

Does The New York Times *really* need news?

You don’t need to read a word of the story to know the answer.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum. Tags: , , , ,