Charles Duhigg’s fruitful investigative summer appears to be getting results. He reports today in The New York Times that the EPA will investigate anew the chemical atrazine, a weedkiller that has been increasingly showing up in drinking water. Which means we have to wait for who knows how long to study whether a weedkiller called atrazine is toxic in your drinking water so neighbor Bob can continue to keep dandelions off his front yard. Hey, better than just ignoring it.
— My old group at The Wall Street Journal has a good scoop on a Fed presentation to regulators warning that banks are delaying taking writedowns on their commercial real estate assets. More important is this great proprietary analysis by the WSJ: “…banks with heavy exposure to such loans set aside just 38 cents in reserves during the second quarter for every $1 in bad loans, according to an analysis of regulatory filings by The Wall Street Journal. That is a sharp decline from $1.58 in reserves for every $1 in bad loans from the beginning of 2007.”
— Bloomberg’s headline says it all here on the shoved-out JPMorgan Chase exec Bill Winters: “Winters Shows JPMorgan Path to Safety, Dimon Shows Him the Door.” Meantime, this Bloomberg headline does not say it all: “Pickens Power Makes Al Gore Convenient Truth in U.S. Oil Policy.” Too bad, because it’s a pretty interesting story about the strange bedfellows Pickens’ interesting proposals have made.
— Jenny Anderson writes in the Times that the debt-securitization market is still in life support, meaning government support. More concerning is that her reporting indicates that the government’s primary concern seems to be to resuscitate this monster, not put it down slowly. Securitization was one of the primary causes of the crisis. As Paul Krugman and Felix Salmon say, what’s wrong with the fusty old banking system of decades and centuries past—the one where a banker lent money directly to a borrower? A little devolution wouldn’t be a bad thing here.