Rolfe Winkler

Shock and awe the TBTF

November 23, 2009

For all the fear that bankers have expressed about Representative Paul Kanjorski’s amendment to end “too big to fail,” the final text shows that they don’t have much to fear. While the amendment gives regulators new power, it’s unlikely they’d actually use it.

Lunchtime Links 11-22

November 22, 2009

The talented Mr. Pang (Maremont, WSJ) Maremont uncovered the long and sordid history of Mr. Pang. The Journal also broke the Norman Hsu story. Both were high-flying con-artists before the Journal got on their case. Great stories.

Could England be headed for a “sudden stop?”

November 21, 2009

From Landon Thomas at NYT: In Britain, visions of Japan’s decade of stagnation

Britain may finally be emerging from recession, but many analysts warn that it is a false dawn. In fact, they argue, the economy here is so ravaged by growing debts and ruined banks that it could well be following in the steps of Japan’s lost decade of the 1990s.

Bank failure Friday

November 21, 2009

It was a slow night. One small bank failed.


    Failed bank: Commerce Bank of SW FL, Fort Myers FL Acquiring bank: Central Bank, Stillwater MN Vitals: at 8/28, assets of $79.7m, deposits of $76.7m DIF damage: $23.6m

Central has been busy. They also acquired the assets of Riverview Community Bank and Jennings State Bank in October, as well as Mainstreet Bank in August.

Dodd on Bernanke: “not necessarily”

November 20, 2009

From Shahien Nasiripour at HuffPo.

One wonders where news and approval ratings will be when Bernanke’s confirmation comes up for a vote….

CRE cliff-diving continues

November 20, 2009

Moody’s/REAL released September data for their commercial real estate price index. Month over month drops have been fast and furious this year.

Morning Links 11-20

November 20, 2009

Bill Gross says chase risk! (PIMCO) In his December letter, Gross laments the ultra low yields available to investors. Holding cash is a terrible idea he argues. (Luckily he’s not saying to go far out on the risk curve.) Still, I disagree. While I believe there’s an outside chance of a dollar crisis (highly inflationary…hence the reason many investors have a 5-10% position in gold for insurance), the more likely scenario over the next few years is the one laid out by the SocGen guys: debt deflation. In that case the purchasing power of cash goes up. Looking at the .01% nominal yield on cash equivalents is therefore unfair. The deflation-adjusted yield would be much higher. This is not a reason to try to “inflate away” debt however as that’s not actually a solution. It just gets us closer to the dollar crisis scenario. 90% cash + 10% gold has done very well over the past two years (especially on a risk-adjusted basis!) I guess you can jump back into risky assets if you feel you “need” yield. Of course that’s the mistake so many people made in response to Alan Greenspan’s low rates. How well did that strategy work?

Krugman on the invisible bond vigilantes

November 20, 2009

Paul Krugman is complaining of deficit hysteria over on his blog again. Where are the bond vigilantes? he wonders. Since we’re still able to sell debt so cheaply, why is anyone worried about more deficit spending?

Midnight Links 11-18(19?)

November 19, 2009

Rep. DeFazio calls for Geithner and Summers to be fired (YouTube) Geithner has done many other things wrong besides paying out 100% to AIG’s counterparties. Slamming banks together to avoid resolving their balance sheets was another big one. As for Summers, I still don’t understand why he’s so revered at the top of Democratic policy circles. His prior support of the CFMA and Gramm, Leach, Bliley — two of the biggest regulatory blunders of our time — should be enough to disqualify him from his current post.

The Fed is sending gold higher

November 18, 2009

Is gold going to $6,300? Dylan Grice, an analyst with Societe Generale, says it’s possible, given the decline in central bank credibility. But investors need to keep one thing in mind: Gold is merely a vehicle to protect the purchasing power of money.

Steve Keen on Minksy

November 18, 2009

One of my favorite economists talking about one of my favorite economists (ht Yves). Liberal use of the “pause” button to read his slides is recommended. He also goes into great detail about his “roving cavaliers of credit” thesis, which, in a nutshell, argues that money isn’t created by the Fed, it’s created by banks.

GMAC shouldn’t have a government ally

November 17, 2009

Al de Molina’s tenure as CEO of GMAC was short and rocky, punctuated by bailouts and controversy over the morally hazardous tactics of subsidiary Ally Bank.

Whitney: “I haven’t been this bearish in a year”

November 16, 2009

Bartiromo asks some good questions, including “are banks adequately capitalized today?”