The Great Debate

from The Great Debate UK:

The EU and Hedge Funds: silencing the dog that didn’t bark

Laurence Copeland

- Laurence Copeland is a professor of finance at Cardiff University Business School and a co-author of "Verdict on the Crash" published by the Institute of Economic Affairs. The opinions expressed are his own. -

We could see it coming, couldn't we? Those gigantic over-leveraged hedge funds were bound to come crashing down, as their massive bets turned sour, forcing them to default on their bank loans and bringing the banking system to its knees.

Except that it never happened. Instead, the system was destroyed by the greed and incompetence of the insiders, including some of the most blue-blooded investment and commercial banks in the world. Highly regulated as they were said to be, they were allowed in every country except Spain simply to move their riskiest investments off balance sheet, where they were free to bet the bank on investments in the notoriously toxic mortgage-backed securities.

Note the absence of hedge funds and private equity - Alternative Investment Funds or AIF’s - from this story.

Nonetheless, with proposals to impose new reporting requirements and controls on management, the EU is concentrating its regulatory fire on the dog that didn’t bark, with the clear intention of reducing the competitiveness of AIF’s and tying the hands of their managers (with a side swipe at the offshore financial centres where many are legally domiciled).

Here comes another set of dodgy U.S. loans

jimsaftcolumn1– James Saft is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

Banks in the U.S. face a new source of write-downs and failures in the coming year as loans made to developers to finance residential and commercial property development rapidly go bad.

And as these loans are old-fashioned and concentrated in smaller banks, their fate is particularly interesting as it indicates that issues with the banking system go far deeper than the so-called “toxic assets” belonging to the largest lenders that have thus far gotten most of the attention and government aid.