Friday, October 31, 2008

Underwater

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Mathew Padilla

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Greenspan's Blind Faith

Ben Jones, blogger and independent economic analyst for the Housing Bubble Blog says the former Chairman of the Federal Reserve had plenty of opportunities to see the writing on the wall for the current financial crisis.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The eye of the storm has just passed over



It is a great surprise that three small islands off North Western Europe have been the cause, and the cure, of the crisis. It was Ireland's emergency guarantee of all deposits which set off the nuclear reaction: risible, because its blanket nature covering all deposits for its six banks worked out at $576bn, nearly three times gross domestic product, $130,000 per head or $200,000 per person in employment. Within these numbers was a sub-liability of nearly $50,000 per head over foreign deposits, mostly British. Despite now excellent Anglo-Irish relations, if these guarantees had been called, they could never have been paid. Immediately Germany, Spain, Greece and smaller countries followed suit. Mildly anti-EU British politicians then peculiarly started to bleat about supra-national solutions - an impossible dream - and did nothing. More sensible foreign leaders reacted nationally to the inevitable consequences of their electorates seeing their local banks disappear in a puff of smoke. Fortunately, market mechanisms then kicked in. Large British deposits were being sucked out, into unreal Irish bank guarantees at an alarming rate. Meanwhile in Iceland, the third offshore island, the entire bank system finally decided to die. Although this was assured much earlier (see Pick of the Week No. 48, "Abdul and Jorvik Go Shopping"), it had staggered on for a surprisingly long time. The twin Irish/Iceland events resulted in dramatic falls in British asset prices and even worse gridlock in the lending markets. Outflows to Ireland were swiftly followed by a sudden realisation that simply idiotic deposits worth over £5bn had been placed into hopeless Icelandic-owned institutions and were about to disappear. Depositors included over 100 UK local government authorities as well as unwise financial intermediaries. Without warning and in a single bound, the British governing class leapt from narcolepsy to sprinting at gold medal speed.

The key change has been the rapid implementation of the most comprehensive bank bail out package ever seen. It should work, because it addresses the overlapping problems of too little Tier 1 capital, the fear of bank counterparty risk, the inability to roll over corporate loans and the risk of deposit flight. The result is state directed capitalism. It has lead to howls of outrage across the investment and political spectrum, from the purists who believe market forces should be allowed to work themselves out, to the mob baying for capitalist blood. The cacophony of noise and finger pointing will continue for many years, but both arguments are irrelevant. They are based on old rules. For just as in war habeas corpus and other rights are torn up, so in a financial meltdown the old rules are shredded.

The British decision has been to save the core of the national banking system and create a more realistic structure than the blanket guarantees of Ireland. The sums pledged are large enough to meet all the capital required to support the capital of each major domestic bank. The use of high yielding preference shares and permanent income bearing securities is likely to mean the government may end up owning perhaps a mere quarter of three to six banks, yet its ability to control them all, and their lending, is a certainty. This multiple approach is already being favourably viewed in other countries; it is speedy, cheaper and turns the all-important psychology from one of utter despair to merely gloom. It is more effective, and overall less burdensome on the taxpayer than any other solution. In the UK and elsewhere, the previous drip feed of liquidity into the markets, started by Mr Paulson in the US, simply proved the law of diminishing returns. Ever larger funds had to be provided to produce ever weaker results. To be fair, the unique (so far) British solution is almost the same as Mr. Buffet's bail-out of Goldman Sachs. His very high yielding preference stock and presumably many other strings must have provided a guide.

Britain's Treasury mandarins had also dusted off and absorbed the lessons of earlier French, Swedish and Japanese models. The result is a more effective hybrid. Since President Mitterand nationalised the banks in 1980 (later part re-listed), France has had state directed capitalism dominated by three banks. Inevitably these are ponderous and suffer poor shareholder returns, but in a whacky way, the system works. In Sweden, the necessary nationalisation of anything with 'bank' on its nameplate also proved effective; although the stock market did not recover for 18 months, the economy managed weak growth in almost every quarter. Japan's Resolution Trust Corporation initially failed because the government dithered for six years after the 1990 crash, before taking any meaningful action. Subsequently, vast amounts of debt were issued to hoover up bankrupt banks and duff corporate loans. It worked. We believe that most G7 (i.e. including America) and G20 countries will adopt Britain's hybrid ruse in the near future; if so, the storm is passing for sure.


John Maudlin
johnmauldin@investorsinsight.com

$45 Trillion Wealth Wipe Out

Monday, October 13, 2008

Krugman got it right



Today Paul Krugman won the nobel prize and was well deserved.
I have posted this video a few times before but it is a must watch.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Monday, October 6, 2008

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Germany Moves to Shore Up Confidence in Economy

Depfa, a Dublin-based lender that Hypo acquired last year, is at the center of its problems. Depfa underwrote a package of municipal bonds which were subsequently downgraded by ratings agencies. That step obliged Depfa to buy the bonds back, a contractual requirement that would create almost immediate liquidity problems at Hypo itself, given the difficulty of getting short-term funding in today’s drumtight credit markets. Banks from outside Hypo uncovered the problem after the bailout was cemented last week, and soon realized that the 35 billion euros that were supposed to sustain the bank through the end of 2009 was inadequate. Instead, it would need 50 billion euros by the end of this year, and another 10 billion in 2009. After the magnitude of the problem became clear, the banks — which were not publicly identified — revoked their participation in the plan, which had been a joint public-private deal.

New York Times

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Regulator

video

Thursday, October 2, 2008