Breakingviews

Wells Fargo’s mortgage strength is U.S. weakness

July 12, 2012

The San Francisco-based bank accounts for a third of the country’s new home loans and is the largest servicer, too. That’s great for Wells’ bottom line. But such a dominant market share, if sustained, could be bad news for consumers and taxpayers. Rivals need to up their game.

Cure for U.S. housing malaise may sustain disease

March 18, 2013

A Senate bill seeks to forbid Congress from raising Frannie’s fees to pay for federal spending. It sounds sensible. But in the alternate universe that is Washington, it may kill one of the few ways available to reduce taxpayer support for housing and bring back private capital.

U.S. housing giants are city-sized property owners

March 8, 2010

Home ownership in the United States ranks up there with apple pie and motherhood.

Fannie, Freddie fiction stores trouble for future

February 1, 2010

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are escaping public wrath -- and much in the way of accountability.

AIG still needs charmed future to repay taxpayers

January 26, 2010

The role of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner in the $180 billion bailout of American International Group is under scrutiny in Washington. Yet whatever the outcome of Wednesday's hearing of the House Oversight Committee, AIG still owes American taxpayers some $124 billion.

Plenty of votes in bonus-bashing

November 17, 2009

How do you attract the attention of a Louisiana mule? You hit it briskly over the head with a baseball bat. Sometimes it seems that the only way to attract the attention of the bankers in the casino is to threaten something so dire that they cannot simply carry on placing fresh bets with the taxpayers’ money.

Pay curbs are not the answer

October 22, 2009

If an austerity program had been imposed on the court of Versailles in those turbulent months of early 1789, the Paris mobs might have cheered but they would no doubt have gone right ahead and sacked the Bastille.

Ex-Lehman bankers seek bankruptcy bonus

October 13, 2009

Former Lehman Brothers bankers are among the list of creditors with huge claims against the failed U.S. investment bank. Some of these demands may be fair enough -- there's no reason why employees shouldn't chase unpaid wages, for instance. But some look grossly opportunistic -- and will rekindle anger over the selfishness of bankers who share responsibility for the messing up of the financial system.

Banks’ escape won’t solve capital woes

September 29, 2009

One by one, Europe's banks are trying to wriggle free from state control. BNP Paribas is the latest escapee, with a plan to replace government-owned preference shares with common equity raised from shareholders. Judging by the market's reaction, it is unlikely to be the last. But the upbeat mood obscures the fact that banks have so far done precious little to expand their capital buffers.