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Links for a Friday

Notable news and readings on variety of subjects. We've got credit and derivatives, thoughts on value investing, pop culture & history, and more. Peruse away!

FT's Gillian Tett on turmoil in the credit markets and the rising cost of insuring against default in US subprime mortgages. See also: Saskia Scholtes' commentary on the ABX index and its reflection of credit risk in the subprime bond market.

The question of whether or not Ecuador would default on its debt payment was answered on Wednesday when the country's economic minister said the payments would be approved. That decision surprised many in the market, causing "sharp movements" in prices as "hedge funds and speculative accounts" made up most of the activity in that market. The most dramatic moves were seen in the credit default swaps (CDS) market, according to FT.com.

Property derivatives market gets a major boost in the form of price transparency, as CB Richard Ellis-GFI launches a new online price tracking service for these formerly opaque instruments. See David Oakley's, "Tracking property derivatives prices".

From the LewRockwell.com blog: Daniel McArthy examines the dumbing down and mischaracterization of a historical period in the HBO series, "Rome".

The Pleasure of Finding Things Out. Paul Kedrosky of the Infectious Greed blog has posted this interesting video of scientist Richard Feynman talking a bit about his work and his philosophy towards life, observation, and learning.

Michael Steinhardt is bearish on US stocks. The former star hedge-fund manager (who, interestingly, now serves as chairman of an asset management that offers exchange-traded funds) is also wary of "leveraged investments", such as commodities and real-estate. Thanks to The Kirk Report for highlighting this Bloomberg article.

ControlledGreed.com highlights the career of Canadian value investor Frank Chou, whose flagship fund has achieved compounded returns of around 16% a year for 24 years, according to a 2006 profile in MoneySense magazine. The most recent news: that Chou is not finding many bargains in this market.

A Q&A on value investing and personal growth with famed investor, Warren Buffet. Thanks to Barry at The Big Picture for this link.

And for those who missed it a couple of days ago, BusinessWeek's 1987 profile of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, "The Billion Dollar Whiz Kid".

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