David Leonhardt seems to be on roughly the same page as me when it comes to debt-for-equity swaps at America’s banks:
I’m very glad that after the literally ridiculous performance he put on today, BofA’s Ken Lewis has been stripped of his job as chairman. Annual meetings are largely theatre, of course: the important votes have all been cast long before the meeting takes place. But with Lewis still saying with a straight face that the acquisitions of both Countrywide and Merrill Lynch were a really good idea, I can’t see how the principle of shareholders (as opposed to the CEO) electing the chairman could really survive Lewis’s re-election.
I was keen to go to the panel on financial literacy, which was moderated by John Bryant, the founder of Operation HOPE and a member of the U.S. President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy. He’s clearly committed to this cause, and is doing a very good job of picking the low-hanging fruit: in some areas, for instance, only 25% of people eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit actually claim it. Since it can be claimed going back three years, and since it can amount to $4,000 per year, families earning less than $40,000 a year can end up with a $12,000 windfall just as a result of some simple outreach and basic education. In many cases that’s “more money in many cases than they’ll ever see in their life,” said Bryant; “it’s transformational”.
Frozen-out Stanford investors petition Congress: They were happy parking their money in an offshore bank when it offered too-good-to-be-true yields. But now that bank has imploded, they want onshore financial protections. Good luck with that.
Marion Maneker, on the news that Sotheby’s is auctioning a Giacometti cat:
Le Chat is estimated between $16 and $24 million. One dealer remarked that the Giacometti dogs are $30 million and the cats are generally $10 million but splitting the difference won’t bridge the gap.