Weekend Talking Points, Sept. 17-19

A blog about business, finance, and economics.
Sept. 17 2010 9:40 AM

Weekend Talking Points, Sept. 17-19

Know your smartphone demo. Take these things with a grain of salt , but iPhone users are 42 times more likely to use baby coupons than Android users?

I already blame Elizabeth Warren for everything. I'm pretty sure she wrecked the economy while simultaneously causing the tornado in Brooklyn . I'm joking, of course. I have tons of respect for Warren and have no doubt she could do a great job with the consumer agency she's sort of going to be heading, or advising, or whatever it ends up being. But somehow Warren's quasi-appointment mushroomed into the most overdetermined, symbolically loaded political gesture of the year. Among those whom the White House press secretary called the professional left , Warren's appointment became not only a vengeful repository of anger and frustration aimed at an Obama economic team that doesn't represent a sufficient departure from the Fed-Wall Street axis, but an outright line in the sand: If you don't support Warren's appointment, you're a traitor. (Again, I'll be happy if Warren gets the gig, but would Gene Kimmelman really be that bad?) On the other side, Warren became some kind of bank-scaring witch, an even more absurd caricature. I am wary of proxy wars and fear that the expectations for Warren and the consumer agency have been set way too high.

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Sympathy for the Dimon. With 15 years or so of Web browsing under our belts, it can be easy to forget just how spectacularly wrong things can go with a financial site, and this week JPMorgan Chase brought back unpleasant reminders of e-commerce gone awry . (Truth is, American Express had problems like this for years and has only recently ironed them out.) The age of Twitter amplifies such screw-ups immensely, and financial institutions have been extremely slow to adapt to social media. They might argue that regulation makes it harder for them , and one could add that they've had bigger problems to tackle . But somehow I suspect that JPM Chase is suddenly going to be putting some resources into Twitter.

Oh yeah, China's really afraid now. The administration has successfully conveyed the notion that it's very, very mad at China , and if China doesn't revalue its currency by the time Timothy Geithner counts to three, then something really bad is going to happen. (You can, though, search Geithner's prepared testimony this week for the phrase "currency manipulation" and come up empty.) I'm not saying Geithner hasn't made a good case, but I'm still scratching my head over two points: A) What's different now, aside from the passage of time, from the earlier roars that the administration made about China and then retreated from? B) What is the administration actually prepared to do if, as should be expected, China just shrugs off the attacks? On A), it could be as simple as the imminent election. On B) ...

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