Commentaries

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VW prefs don’t deserve DAX treatment

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Volkswagen’s merger with Porsche has exposed a bizzare quirk in the Deutsche Boerse’s index requirements, which could allow the carmaker’s preference shares to replace its ordinaries in the flagship DAX equity index.

Preference shares have no place in blue-chip equity indices. Their dividends must be paid before any distribution to ordinary shareholders, but they have no right to anything further, often lack voting rights, and escape most of the disclosure requirements imposed on ordinary shareholders.

 The latest twist in the VW/Porsche road trip is Qatar’s sale of half of some 50 million VW preference shares it has accumulated. It is concentrating its investment on VW’s ordinary shares, where it is aiming to achieve a holding of 17 percent.

This will mean more than 90 percent of VW’s voting shares will be held by the Porsche clan, the state of Lower Saxony and the Qataris. With a free float of less than 10 percent, the ordinary shares will no longer qualify for DAX inclusion.

The Credit Crunch Diaries

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For many financial services professionals the 2008 credit crisis was about as amusing as the Hundred Years’ War. So it was refreshing to read “The Credit Crunch Diaries” – a humorous account just released by David Lascelles and Nick Carn.

This fictional tale of the meltdown is told in the parallel diaries of the chief executive and compliance officer of a major bank, Amalgamated Finance for Europe. The diaries chart the bank’s journey from reckless lending to government bailout and finally back to business as usual.

from Rolfe Winkler:

Bookstaber, hater of CDS, to advise SEC

Rick Bookstaber announced on his blog yesterday that he will joining the SEC's "Division of Risk, Strategy and Financial Innovation."

This is a welcome development. Bookstaber is the author of A Demon of Our Own Design: Markets, Hedge Funds and the Perils of Financial Innovation.

from Rolfe Winkler:

Sander’s TBTF amendment

Now THIS is legislation to get behind. From Senator Bernie Sanders, Independent from VT.

Update: Reader macstibs posts this link to a petition supporting Sanders.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

Should he stay or should he go? Miliband ponders

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OUKTP-UK-IRAN-NUCLEAR-BRITAINShould he stay or should he go?

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband could be Europe’s first foreign minister in all but name, with one of the most influential jobs in shaping the place of the 27-nation bloc on the world stage, if he is willing to risk leaving British politics for the next five years. That’s a big if.

Miliband is half of a “ticket” concocted by French and German diplomats to fill the two new top jobs created by the Lisbon treaty. The other half is Belgian Prime Minister Herman van Rompuy, the preferred candidate for president of the European Council. Officially, Miliband says he is ”not available” and is backing Tony Blair’s forlorn bid for the presidency. If he turns the role down, it could well to go to former Italian Prime Minister Massimo d’Alema.

What banks can learn from hedge funds

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Should the banking industry look more like the hedge fund sector? That’s the surprising suggestion made last week by two Bank of England officials.

In a fascinating paper, Piergiorgio Alessandri and Andrew Haldane explore the level of public support given to banks in the crisis and the problem of institutions that are too big too fail. Their main point is that if this issue is not addressed it will lead to new crises and even bigger bailouts in the future – a state of affairs they describe as a “doom loop”.

from Rolfe Winkler:

Lunchtime Links 11-8

The economics of trust (Harford, Forbes) A great article. I've argued that markets need rules because without them the division of labor breaks down.

Big bank break up idea gains ground in Congress (Drawbaugh, Reuters) Senator Sanders just introduced a bill to do that. As noted earlier, Kanjorski is working on amendment to do same.

from Rolfe Winkler:

Amendment could neuter FASB

Sarbox isn't the only regulatory regime under threat. As Ryan Grim writes over at HuffPo, an amendment has been introduced that would put FASB under the thumb of the new systemic risk oversight council, and give the council the power to literally do away with inconvenient accounting rules that pose a problem for banks.

Astonishingly, at a time when the public is crying out for greater regulation to limit excessive risk-taking by financial institutions, the banks are trying to get Congress to agree that the next time there's a big downturn, they should have the ability to alter their accounting standards -- essentially, fudge the numbers -- so that the public and investors won't be able to tell how insolvent they really are. By ignoring their declining asset values, they can avoid the standard requirement of raising more capital.

from Rolfe Winkler:

Bank failure Friday

As per usual, we begin in Georgia. The last one of the night is a big one.

#116

    Failed bank: United Security Bank, Sparta GA Acquiring bank: Ameris Bank, Moultrie GA Vitals: as of 9/14/09, assets of $157m, deposits of $150m DIF damage: $58 million

Ameris Bank also bought American United two weeks ago.

#117

    Failed bank: Home Federal Savings Bank, Detroit MI Acquiring bank: Liberty Bank and Trust, New Orleans LA Vitals: as of 9/24/09, assets of $14.9m, deposits of $12.8m DIF damage: $5.4 million

#118

from Rolfe Winkler:

Lunchtime Links 11-6

Fannie asks for another $15 billion (press release) That brings the company's total draw on Treasury to $59.9 billion. Here's the paragraph that scares me: "Total nonperforming loans in our guaranty book of business were $198.3 billion, compared with $171.0 billion on June 30, 2009, and $119.2 billion on December 31, 2008. The carrying value of our foreclosed properties was $7.3 billion, compared with $6.2 billion on June 30, 2009, and $6.6 billion on December 31, 2008." Why is the value of nonperforming loans growing so much faster than foreclosures? If Fannie's not going to foreclose, then why bother paying the mortgage?

Fannie owed $15.8 billion by Lehman (Fannie 10-q) see page 103.

With tax break, a bigger carbon footprint (Glaeser, Boston Globe) "The real problem with the [home buyer tax] credit is that it continues the long-standing federal push toward far-flung McMansions and away from dense, apartment living." It's not just about carbon consumption. It's about encouraging the expansion of a footprint that our incomes can no longer support.

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