Nick Lemann, the former dean of Columbia Journalism School, has a monster 10,000-word profile of Mary Jo White in the latest New Yorker, which has the most legendary fact checkers in the business. So why does it contain pretty basic errors of fact?

Here’s one:

In 2004, the commission permitted the big brokerage houses to take on a much higher level of debt. The firms quickly began borrowing at possibly ruinous levels, which made them feel the effects of the crisis even more acutely.

The first sentence is arguably true, but the second sentence absolutely is not.

Here’s another:

“Dark pools,” private unregulated markets, enable banks to execute undisclosed trades.

Dark pools are not unregulated. They are very regulated, as anybody who runs one will tell you. And all trades in dark pools are disclosed and recorded, just like trades on any other exchange.

And then there’s this doozy:

In 2000, the S.E.C. permitted stocks to be traded in pennies or fractions of pennies, rather than the customary eighths or thirty-seconds of a dollar. That made it easier for traders to make money by placing very large orders for very small variances in the price of a stock.

Nothing trades in fractions of pennies, at least not if it’s trading at over a buck a share. And decimalization didn’t make it easier for traders to make money, it made it harder for traders to make money.

I’m not sure what to make of all this, except to say that the New Yorker really doesn’t get finance. And/or, Lemann gets special dispensation to be a tourist in worlds he doesn’t really understand, and that because of his stature, he doesn’t get the extra scrutiny that such writers require.

No purchaser of a sovereign debt instrument today does so in the hope and expectation that when the debt matures the borrower will have the money to repay it. The purchaser does so in the hope and expectation that when the instrument matures the borrower will be able to borrow the money from somebody else in order to repay it. This is a crucial distinction. If by sovereign creditworthiness we mean that a sovereign is expected to be able to generate enough revenue fromn taxes or other sources to repay its debts as they fall due, then most countries are utterly insolvent.
[no citation. yet.]
sexpigeon
sexpigeon:

The museum on a Sunday is mostly dads and their dad-smitten daughters. Dad is a smart guy, he knows all the culture things and all the snickery city jokes. Daughter does well in school, dresses like a grad student, has a crush on Ira Glass. Gets into trouble, yeah, but it’s smart-kid trouble. An edgy essay, some black and white photography that maybe the art teacher isn’t quite ready for.
Mom likes art fine but doesn’t quite get-get art in the same way that Dad does. Dad has some artist friends-of-friends, Dad attended a gallery opening in the 1980s that Debbie Harry was at. Dad dabbled. Dad has books you are not allowed to touch because they’re fragile or important or expensive or pornographic in ways that might not be art in the way a teenage daughter understands art.
Dad isn’t in a hurry, Dad doesn’t follow you around the galleries like Mom does. Dad spends twenty minutes looking at one thing because that thing is very moving or fascinating or troubling to Dad. Dad sometimes peeks over your shoulder and tells you an interesting fact about the thing you are looking at. Mom is lost in a gallery and needs you to guide her. She nervously tells you things that the placards say and you’ve already read the placards and the placards are so pedestrian anyway, Mom.
Dad says you can pick one book from the bookstore. It has to be a book, not a piece of crap. It’s understood that you’re not supposed to pick the most expensive book, that’s obvious. Dad is going to judge you a little by your selection. Jasper Johns? Well, okay. If that’s what you’re interested in, okay. Dad flips through an art magazine and says that it used to be better. You note this, and you repeat it to a boy you like when your art class goes on a field trip. A momma’s boy, he is wrenched by the neg, and his hotness for you redoubles.

sexpigeon:

The museum on a Sunday is mostly dads and their dad-smitten daughters. Dad is a smart guy, he knows all the culture things and all the snickery city jokes. Daughter does well in school, dresses like a grad student, has a crush on Ira Glass. Gets into trouble, yeah, but it’s smart-kid trouble. An edgy essay, some black and white photography that maybe the art teacher isn’t quite ready for.

Mom likes art fine but doesn’t quite get-get art in the same way that Dad does. Dad has some artist friends-of-friends, Dad attended a gallery opening in the 1980s that Debbie Harry was at. Dad dabbled. Dad has books you are not allowed to touch because they’re fragile or important or expensive or pornographic in ways that might not be art in the way a teenage daughter understands art.

Dad isn’t in a hurry, Dad doesn’t follow you around the galleries like Mom does. Dad spends twenty minutes looking at one thing because that thing is very moving or fascinating or troubling to Dad. Dad sometimes peeks over your shoulder and tells you an interesting fact about the thing you are looking at. Mom is lost in a gallery and needs you to guide her. She nervously tells you things that the placards say and you’ve already read the placards and the placards are so pedestrian anyway, Mom.

Dad says you can pick one book from the bookstore. It has to be a book, not a piece of crap. It’s understood that you’re not supposed to pick the most expensive book, that’s obvious. Dad is going to judge you a little by your selection. Jasper Johns? Well, okay. If that’s what you’re interested in, okay. Dad flips through an art magazine and says that it used to be better. You note this, and you repeat it to a boy you like when your art class goes on a field trip. A momma’s boy, he is wrenched by the neg, and his hotness for you redoubles.

When Blue Smoke opened, I wrote a tough review. Danny Meyer’s kids go to the same school as mine, so Meyer comes up to me and puts out his hand, and says, “I just want you to know that was a very helpful review and we’re going to do better next time.” So that’s how the Meyer Hospitality Group handles a situation like this. Other restaurateurs have different methods.
If MIT’s Sociology Department has the highest public profile of any unit within the university, then it stands to reason that it must exist. While it may seem locally less tangible than the departments of Brain & Congitive Sciences, Economics, and Anthropology on the actual campus, this is obviously some sort of temporary anomaly given that it comfortably outranks these units in a widely-used report on the public impact of academic departments. The only conclusion, then, is that the Sociology Department does in fact exist and the MIT administration needs to backfill any apparent ontic absence immediately and bring conditions in the merely physically present university into line with the platonic and universal realm of being.
Quite a few journalists go to work for banks, that’s true. Why? There’s better pay, sure. But it’s also because journalists have no idea what they’re in for. Sometimes I would come across one who had gone over to our side and he’d have this shell-shocked look. The first six months they are like, what the fuck? They had no idea because bankers were always really, really nice to them.