Washington may finally take up mortgage reform

December 21, 2012

Assuming Congress settles the deficit debate, housing finance should be its next stop. Lawmakers have postponed reforming the government’s role in funding home loans for four years. Some hurdles still remain. But economic, regulatory and political obstacles are dissolving.

US housing doesn’t need another government bailout

December 26, 2012

The White House is mulling allowing homeowners with underwater private mortgages to refinance into cheaper government-backed loans. But Washington should be planning its exit from home finance, not extending its occupation. Luckily, these latest plans look like a pipe dream.

Latam can rely on masses for next phase of growth

December 31, 2012

A few key people like the world’s richest man and showy political leaders have epitomized the region for years by spearheading the commodity-led, export economies. In 2013, a burgeoning middle class, helped by low interest rates, will make a mark powering Latin America’s future.

Review: The Robespierres of central banking

April 5, 2013

Ben Bernanke, Mervyn King and Jean-Claude Trichet turned central banking theory on its head in their efforts to fight the crisis, says Neil Irwin. Central bankers have become both more powerful and less independent in the process. Peace may have been preserved, but at what cost?

Is Microsoft the quiet villain of global finance?

April 19, 2013

Excel errors overstated structured finance ratings, dented JPMorgan’s risk management and tripped up theories on fiscal austerity. PowerPoint, Word and Outlook also can obfuscate in myriad ways. The value of the U.S. software giant’s tools is undercut by the trouble they cause.

Bernanke deserves art museum spot next to Pollock

May 16, 2013

A record $495 mln Christie’s sale set new highs for the abstract expressionist and other artists. More collectors than ever have $20 mln to spend on a single work. It paints a picture of an art world indebted to the Fed chairman and his alternative asset-friendly monetary policy.

Higher volatility is the new normal in credit

July 10, 2013

The end of Fed bond buying will remove a crutch that supported credit markets even as investment banks cut their trading inventory. Worse, it would come as credit ETFs are suffering outflows. Less liquid markets bring bigger price swings. For the smart money, it’s an opportunity.

China’s debt molehills could turn into mountains

August 27, 2013

Banks have reported low overall bad debt levels. But locally, risks are mounting. The east coast and retail sector are two areas where credit conditions are getting worse. In China, regional problems can escalate rapidly, and investors have poor visibility over where risks lie.

The lessons for China from Japan’s lost decade

September 3, 2013

China faces many of the challenges that hobbled its Asian rival in the late 1980s: a debt-fuelled property boom, less competitive exports, and an ageing society. China is still urbanising and can avoid deflation, but only if it learns from Tokyo’s error by cleaning up its banks.

China’s bad debt could leave $500 bln equity hole

September 4, 2013

That’s how much the biggest lenders would need if 10 percent of their loans go bad and balance sheets continue to expand, according to a Breakingviews calculator. Though earnings can cover some of the shortfall, the potential hit explains why valuations are languishing.