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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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.