The Great Debate UK

from MacroScope:

Bernanke Who?

When it comes to investing in a turbulent market, is ignorance bliss? According to a new survey by IBM, around half of U.S. investors have never heard of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. This, despite the fact that 67 percent say the global financial crisis has prompted them to pay greater attention to financial news. More than one-third could not identify the current unemployment rate. In case you missed it, the jobless rate eased to 10 percent in November after hitting a 26-1/2-year high of 10.2 percent in October.

When firms “Too Big to Fail” fall

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Amid the turmoil of the 2008 financial crisis a myriad of events unfolded that the general public knew nothing about, writes New York Times reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin in a new book titled “Too Big to Fail.”

Wall Street fell from the dizzying heights of good fortune to calamity in a matter of months. To a large degree it’s still to early to tell whether financiers and politicians involved made the right choices.

Narrow banking: reforms for the future

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British economist and author John Kay argues in “Narrow Banking: the reform of banking legislation” that the financial services industry should be restructured to ensure that regulation serves the interests of the public.

“A competitive marketplace is one in which well run businesses earn profits through domestic and international competition, and badly run businesses go to the wall,” he says.

from The Great Debate:

Time for a shareholder revolt

jamessaft1(James Saft is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own)

There are encouraging signs that shareholders are becoming more assertive in defending their interests.

The Financial Times reported on Monday that some of Britain's largest institutional shareholders - including Standard Life, Legal & General and M&G - are working on a plan to bypass investment banks by creating a club to underwrite new issues of equity by small and medium-sized British companies, a move that could save hugely on fees.

Glossy or matte? Women in the recession

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Glenda Stone- Glenda Stone is chief executive and founder of Aurora, a recruitment advertising and market intelligence company, and co-chairs the UK Women’s Enterprise Taskforce established by Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The opinions expressed are her own.-

A theory once proposed by Estée Lauder Companies chairman, Leonard Lauder, was that in times of economic downfall women purchase more lipstick.

from UK News:

Roger Bootle throws capitalism a life preserver

Problems sparked by the financial crisis have not gone away, but have been transferred to the public sector, economist Roger Bootle posits in his new book.In "The Trouble With Markets: Saving Capitalism from Itself" Bootle argues that in large measure, the underlying cause of the financial crisis was the result of an idea that markets work, and that governments do not."Despite the trillions of dollars lost, and despite the worries of millions of people, more than this -- much, much more -- is at stake," Bootle writes. "For this crisis has delivered the killer blow to an idea that has underpinned the structure of society, framed the political debate, and moulded international relations for decades."Bootle, director of Capital Economics and an economic advisor to business accountancy firm Deloitte, reflects on the pitfalls of the corporate system and puts forth his ideas on the future of capitalism.He discussed his book and his economic predictions with Reuters at his London office.

Economic outlook remains fragile

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John Monks-John Monks is general secretary at the European Trade Union Confederation. The opinions expressed are his own.-

One year on from the collapse of Lehman Brothers, we can see that that wreckage was the first of many.

from Commentaries:

“Tobin tax” gaining ground in Europe

No longer just a hopeless cause for anti-capitalist activists, the idea of a global tax on financial transactions is gaining ground in Europe.

European Union leaders could not agree to put it on the agenda of this week's G20 summit on reforming the financial system in Pittsburgh, but the leaders of France, Germany and the European Commission endorsed the concept.

More strikingly, the head of Britain's Financial Services Authority, which regulates the world's second biggest banking centre, said last month that such a levy could help shrink a swollen financial sector.

How significant was the Lehman collapse to the UK economy?

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geoffrey-wood- Geoffrey Wood is professor of economics at Cass Business School in London. The opinions expressed are his own -

The collapse of Lehman Brothers on September 15, 2008, was the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history, sparking a crisis that paralysed the global financial system. But how significant was the bank’s collapse to the UK economy? What about other events such as Northern Rock? Professor Wood argues that the fall of Lehman was just one of many symptoms of the recession in this country.

from Commentaries:

Stones and glass houses, offshore tax haven edition

One of the week's more amusing stories takes us to the sun-kissed shores of the Cayman Islands, scuba diver's paradise, magnet for hedge funds and - until very recently - world-beating tax haven.

The financial crisis has not been kind to the Caymans. Hundreds of hedge funds have collapsed and global banks have slashed jobs. As if this was not enough, President Barack Obama in the spring launched a crackdown on tax havens that forced a number of Caribbean islands, including the Caymans, to embrace greater transparency - after a fashion.

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