Opinion

The Great Debate

from Commentaries:

Wall Street’s $4 trillion kitty

matthewgoldstein.jpgThe Obama administration's plan for reining in derivatives leaves unchecked one of Wall Street's dirty little secrets: the ability of a derivatives dealer to redeploy cash collateral that gets posted by one of its trading partners.

On Wall Street, this practice of taking collateral and reusing it is called rehypothecation. In essence, it's a form of free money for derivatives dealers to use as they please -- even to repost it as collateral to finance their parent company's own borrowings.

And we're talking big bucks. The International Swaps and Derivatives Association recently reported that derivatives dealers have taken in $4 trillion in collateral from their trading partners. That's an 86 percent increase over the $2.1 trillion in cash collateral those same dealers reported having on their books in early 2008.

Now it's not surprising that investment firms took in more collateral from their trading partners over the last year, when the financial markets were in turmoil. Cash collateral is one way for derivatives dealers to protect themselves against the risk of a trading partner defaulting on one of these sophisticated financial contracts.

There's nothing wrong with a dealer taking legitimate steps to insure an orderly unwind of a busted trade.

from From Reuters.com:

How has the credit crisis affected you?

The demise of Lehman Brothers a year ago sparked a collapse in financial market confidence and set of a series of reactions that have spread hardship into the four corners of the globe.

Reuters News has charted the key events and their impact in "Times of Crisis" -- a major new multimedia production on Reuters.com. (See it here.)

We'd like to add the experiences of Reuters readers. So, if you or your family have been affected by the events of the past year then use the comments section below to share your story.

Two cheers for the walking wounded

ws2– Mark Hannam is a guest columnist, the views expressed are his own. He formerly worked at the Bank of England and Barclays. He is currently chairman of Fair Finance, a microfinance company –

Some banks have come out of the financial crisis in better shape than others. We should encourage them rather than lump them together with the failures.

Public anger at the recent failings of many of our leading banks, while justified, is not a sound basis for future policy. The temptation facing policy makers — that of failing to distinguish between better capitalized, better managed banks and under-capitalized, poorly managed banks — should be avoided.

G20: Vows to act but few specifics

g20– Kenichi Kawasaki is managing director and senior analyst at Nomura Securities’ Financial and Economic Research Center. The views expressed are his own –

The G20 leaders failed to come up with any concrete policy steps to pull the global economy out of recession at the London summit. The leaders vowed to restore growth and jobs, but lacked specifics about fiscal measures by each country and there were no binding promises.

There were expectations that the summit would tackle the issue of rising protectionism, but the summit is not an appropriate place to discuss international trade and investment. We saw a measure of results in expanding assistance to emerging economies, but it made the summit look as if it were a mere international conference on aid to emerging economies.

from MediaFile:

Presidential candidates: Love ‘em and Lehman

Media coverage of the U.S. presidential race has not so much cast Democratic candidate Barack Obama in a favorable light as it has portrayed Republican opponent John McCain in a negative one.

That' s the verbatim conclusion of a new report from the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism that analyzes the way the press has covered the campaign.

The report shows that negative stories about Arizona Sen. McCain has been decidedly unfavorable and has worsened over time, with negative stories about him outnumbering favorable Obama stories by more than three to one.

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