Commentaries

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from Rolfe Winkler:

Einhorn on gold, sovereign risk, and more

Two years ago, when he spoke at the Value Investing Congress, David Einhorn said Lehman was in deep trouble. Turned out it was a good call. Today he gave another keynote at the conference in which he argued the policies of the administration have put us on a very dangerous path, one which has encouraged him to buy physical gold as insurance against sovereign default(s).

Here's a pdf of the speech. A few highlights below.

On Bernanke and Geithner:

Presently, Ben Bernanke and Tim Geithner have become the quintessential short-term decision makers. They explicitly “do whatever it takes” to “solve one problem at a time” and deal with the unintended consequences later. It is too soon for history to evaluate their work, because there hasn’t been time for the unintended consequences of the “do whatever it takes” decision-making to materialize.

On too big to fail and the true lesson of Lehman:

The proper way to deal with too-big-to-fail, or too inter-connected to fail, is to make sure that  no institution is too big or inter-connected to fail. The test ought to be that no institution should ever be of individual importance such that if we were faced with its demise the government would be forced to intervene. The real solution is to break up anything that fails that test.

The lesson of Lehman should not be that the government should have prevented its failure. The lesson of Lehman should be that Lehman should not have existed at a scale that allowed it to jeopardize the financial system. And the same logic applies to AIG, Fannie, Freddie, Bear Stearns, Citigroup and a couple dozen others.

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