My daily commentary is a bit late today. But here are my thoughts. Two articles in today’s links talk about European banks nationalised by the state and the consequences of those actions. The one in Iceland shows the government paying off its IMF bailout loan early as the devaluation, bank bankruptcy and capital control regime there look to have stabilised the situation already. Iceland has also already returned the capital markets and received investment grade ratings. In Ireland, the euro has meant devaluation and capital controls were impossible. And here the sovereign took over the bad debts. Now the government is looking to rescind some of that debt. Will they get a green light to do so? They should since Ireland has fulfilled all of its promises of austerity and reform. Yet they do have to worry.
Ireland has effectively given up its sovereignty. That’s why it has to go begging to the EU to get approval on government actions while Iceland has been able to do exactly what it sees as right. I should also note that Iceland is now prosecuting the former Prime Minister for his handling of the bank bubble and crisis. In Ireland, there has been nothing like that. To my mind, Ireland looks to have made the wrong choices and Iceland appears to have made better choices. And this is what is most responsible for the differences in economic performance.
That’s it for today. Here are the links. Have a good weekend.
Greg Smith was a principled and competitive student, the kind of person whose strong sense of right and wrong probably pushed him to resign from Goldman Sachs in a scathing letter to an international newspaper, his former teacher and coach said.
Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A) Chief Executive Officer Warren Buffett, who has said banker greed helped deepen the U.S. financial crisis, attracts the workers he wants with compensation that competes with Wall Street awards.
Many have questioned why, in the face of improving economic data, ECRI has maintained its recession call. The straight answer is that the objective economic indicators we monitor, including those we make public, give us no other choice. Let’s start with the current state of the economy.
Male fruit flies become barflies when rejected by females, choosing alcohol-spiked food more often than their successful brothers in a study that suggests it may be due to a brain chemical also found in humans.
In March, the Treasury of Iceland and the Central Bank of Iceland will prepay loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Nordic countries in the amount of 116 b.kr. The transaction represents the prepayment of SDR 289 million (the equivalent of 55.6 b.kr.) to the IMF, and 366 million euros (the equivalent of 60.5 b.kr.) to the Nordic countries. The prepayment amounts to just over 20% of the funding from the IMF and the Nordic countries in connection with the IMF-led Stand-By Arrangement.
the price of gold has been highly correlated with risk assets for much of the last 12 months or so. Surprising, because gold is often seen as hedge against fear, and when markets tumble gold usually goes up – for a bit at least. Not this time round. When investors get really shaken up by the state of the global economy, they don’t turn to gold. They flee to the dollar as the deepest pool of liquidity on the planet. A higher dollar price means you get more gold for your dollar and the price of gold falls. So fear only stimulates the gold price when that fear is to some extent under control. Once anxiety hits the point where there is a scramble to the dollar, then gold loses its lustre and sheds value fast. Does this make it a good hedge?
the CBO was warned at least by Ms. Pham (and possibly others) over the dangers of precisely the issue that Attorneys General are scrambling to shove under the rug in exchange for a wristslap to all mortgage originators (i.e., the same banks that somehow are now getting bailed out by taxpayers and the GSEs on an annual basis). And just like every other issue that merely gets a cosmetic and very transitory liquidity facelift, nothing ever is actually fixed. As Ms. Pham says: "It is unclear how the recent State attorney generals’ agreement to a proposed yet unpublished terms of the $25 billion robo-signing settlement would repair the chain of title issues that continue to mutate. In January 2011, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court reversed the foreclosure actions of two banks for lacking proof of clear title, followed by a decision in October 2011 that a buyer who purchased a house that was improperly foreclosed upon does not make the buyer the new owner of the house; the sale does not transfer the property."
The inherent conflict of interest that firms such as Goldman possess through enjoying the multiple roles of ‘market-maker,’ ‘securities creator’ and ‘client-advisor’ foster an environment rife with systemic risk. The trading revenue portion of Goldman’s profits, as well as its derivatives vs. assets ratio, is the highest amongst the American bank holding companies. And yet, in the fall of 2008, the Federal Reserve approved Goldman Sachs (along with Morgan Stanley) to alter its moniker from investment bank to bank holding company, thereby allowing it to gain access to federal subsidies and potential ongoing support.
A midlevel Chase executive who oversaw business process execution employees, Almonte says she was fired after just six months on the job for challenging her superiors about the accuracy of the bank’s credit card records
We advanced our clocks an hour for Daylight Saving Time . . . which for most of us means an hour of lost sleep. An hour of lost sleep you can add to the countless others we accumulate . . . hours of lost sleep that can take a toll. Which is why we’ll be hearing some learned pillow talk this morning from Barry Petersen:
Restructuring bank debt would put the Government outside the danger zone for indebted states