The Great Debate UK
Earlier today I wrote that Sheila Bair is one of the few financial regulators who gets it. And by getting it, I mean not sucking up to the banks and the big money interests on Wall Street. You know, the guys (and most of them are guys), who got us into this financial mess. Tim Geithner, on the other hand, is a regulator who just doesn't get it.
It's not that the Treasury secretary isn't smart--he is. And it's not that he's not up to job--he is. It's that Geithner is too much of a politician and his views have been molded by people who work on Wall Street.
So, that's why we have Geithner telling The Wall Street Journal today that Wall Street isn't reverting back to its old ways--even though everything indicates that's exactly what is going on. In Geithner's world, things are getting better and the banks are becoming better citizens:
I don't think the financial system is reverting to past practice, and we won't let that happen. The big banks are running with much less leverage now, much more conservative liquidity cushions. There has been a significant shrinking of their balance sheets, getting rid of bad assets and cleaning up. And the weakest parts of the system don't exist anymore.
from The Great Debate:
Rising pay in the finance sector in the wake of the global financial crisis is no surprise and is driven partly by the government's bailout itself and the underwriting of banks that are too big to fail.
News that some financial firms benefitting from government largesse actually increased the share of revenue they pay their employees sparked a lot of outrage but more heat than light.
- Peter Dixon is a guest columnist, the views expressed are his own. He is global financial economist at Commerzbank -
In the course of this week, we have received a mixed bag of first half results from all the big UK banks. On balance, earnings were slightly ahead of expectations, even for those banks which still registered big losses.
Banks and insurers are looking for ways to bolster their capital, while having the flexibility to strike if there are acquisitions to be had on the cheap. To achieve these twin goals, Spain's Santander and now British insurer Aviva intend to float minority stakes in subsidiaries.
Aviva's chief executive Andrew Moss, who cut the insurer's dividend with its first-half result on Thursday, argued that it must be ready to take advantage of acquisition opportunities. Moss plans to float 25-30 percent of Delta Lloyd so that Aviva's 92 percent owned Dutch insurance unit can take part in the restructuring of the Benelux insurance market.
- Bob McDowall is research director, Europe, at TowerGroup, a research and advisory services firm focused exclusively on the global financial services industry. The opinions expressed are his own. -
The banking results being published this week are inseparable from the catastrophic financial events of the last two years. It is time to glance back to where we have been and determine where we are now.
- Brendan Wood is Chairman of Brendan Wood International, a global intelligence advisory firm. Recently, BWI published the World’s TopGun CEOs as ranked by 2500 institutional investors, which provides insight into the executives in whom shareholders feel the greatest confidence. The opinions expressed are his own. -
Brendan Wood International tracks the competitive position of investment bankers in global and regional markets. It also compiles the confidence rankings of hundreds of global shareholders in corporate investments, including those in the world’s leading banks. As of mid-2009, the Brendan Wood Investor Panel found a mixture of sharp criticism, but also some occasional strong praise for these “newly refurbished” financial behemoths.
-David Kuo is director at the Motley Fool. The opinions expressed are his own.-
Banks insist on the right to charge customers who go overdrawn on their current accounts. They also say they have a right to set the amount charged.
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT), on the other hand, claims that the fees banks levy on customers who exceed agreed overdraft limits are unfair. This is according to their interpretation of the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contract Regulations.
They’re at it again. No sooner has the financial system begun to stabilise than Big Finance is reverting to its old ways — aggressive hiring, remuneration on steroids, wriggling out of regulation or threatening to decamp to evade tougher supervision.
Three months is a long time in the markets, and particularly for banks. Alongside the rally in bank shares, investors have also bid up bank bonds, especially so-called tier 1 bonds which rank just above the equity in the list of creditors.
When the going got tough, banks were quick to bring down the shutters and cut off loans to European companies, forcing them to seek other sources of funding. The result — a dramatic shift to the bond markets, where corporates borrow directly from investors.
This failure of the banks to be there when borrowers needed them most could spell the end of the European syndicated loan market as the powerhouse of corporate finance activity in the region, marking a longer-term shift in the funding mix for European companies from loans to bonds.