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Review: “Forgotten Depression” worth remembering

By Guest Contributor
December 12, 2014

James Grant’s new book on the U.S. government’s response to the 1921 crash is a timely reminder that our forebears knew of other, apparently more efficacious, remedies to cure financial hangovers than the hair of the dog.

Sinking rouble puts debt squeeze on Russia Inc

December 3, 2014

Most of Russia’s external debt is owed by the country’s banks and corporates. About $138 bln comes due in the next eighteen months. With the currency down 40 percent against the dollar this year, that will put a major strain on enterprises’ cashflows. Expect the state to step in.

Wall Street in grip of Geithner nostalgia

December 2, 2014

When the former U.S. Treasury boss made a surprise visit to a recent gathering of bank CEOs, the warm welcome he received could be misinterpreted as appreciation for an old softy. In fact, it was recognition that the current regime doesn’t have its heart in financial regulation.

Remember the UK housing bubble?

November 26, 2014

Not long ago an overheating housing market was seen by many as the big UK danger. Now mortgage approvals are dropping and house inflation is easing – even though mortgages are getting cheaper. Tighter home-loan regulation is a factor. Workers’ low earnings are the main restraint.

American banking has its own Tea Party

November 25, 2014

Like the anti-establishment wing of the GOP, the Independent Community Bankers of America has emerged as a highly vocal opponent of all things Wall Street, including a Lazard banker’s nomination for a Treasury role. These are the plaintive cries of a dying breed of banker.

Brazil’s epic water crisis a global wake-up call

November 24, 2014

Sao Paulo, a city of 20 mln, is running out of H2O thanks to creaky infrastructure, political battles, a record drought and Amazon deforestation. The humanitarian and economic cost would be immense if supplies dried up. The fiasco should drive other metropolises to action.

Boris should pay up but not shut up over U.S. tax

November 24, 2014

The London mayor, an American citizen, objects to paying a U.S. capital gains levy on his UK residence. Uncle Sam’s ex-pat tax laws are worthy of reform. But if Johnson really cares about that, the way to show it is to clear his debt and then campaign for change.

Review: Congo’s problems run deeper than oil

November 21, 2014

Virunga Park sits on top of reserves and between hostile states inhabited by warring militias. A new documentary casts UK oil firm Soco as the park’s top threat. Unethical exploiters are just one symptom of a nation whose institutions are too weak to assure economic stability.

Dizzying revolving door risks overdone response

November 20, 2014

Going from a U.S. government job to the private sector raises conflicts, as shown by events at Goldman. And a banker’s possible role at the Treasury is under fire. Such moves warrant clear rules, but cross-fertilization is valuable. It would be a shame to make it too hard to do.

London gets closer to harsh bonus cap reality

November 20, 2014

An adviser to the European Court of Justice has quashed UK legal arguments contesting EU pay limits. A ruling against Britain is now more likely next spring. Base salaries will rise, and industry pay could remain high. It’s a blow to the BoE, but the banks brought it on themselves.