Thursday, September 18, 2008

54% of LabourHome Readers Want Gordon to Go

A survey of Labour supporters by LabourHome for the Indy tomorrow finds 54% want Gordon to go before the next General Election with 46% wanting him to stay. 57% believe there should be a leadership vote at party conference and 43% think there should not.

Miliband is the favoured successor of nearly a quarter (24.6%) of those polled…

+++ FSA Bans Short Selling +++

First they came for the capitalists…

(Guido is short FTSE Futures. What are you going to do Gordon?)

Miliband : Brown is in "Bizarre… Denial of Reality"

This morning the Guardian’s political editor Patrick Wintour quoted an anonymous cabinet minister off-the-record.
Gordon Brown’s authority was further undermined last night after it emerged several ministers sharply criticised the decision to use this week’s political cabinet to discuss Tory weaknesses rather than Labour’s own unpopularity. One member said the tenor of the meeting was bizarre and a denial of reality as we sat listening to how deep down David Cameron is not really popular”.

That cabinet minister was David Miliband. Guido knows this because David Miliband is always using the word “bizarre”, it is his favourite word in television interviews, in print and in speeches.

Usage of the word “bizarre” by Miliband:

Indy
Tuesday, 9 September 2008
We badly need a treaty to control the arms trade
It is
bizarre that we’ve treaties to stop nuclear arms, but not to stop weapons flooding into conflict zones

David Miliband interview on Radio 5 Live
February 2, 2008
“Well I think it’s a very bizarre comparison to compare Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe with China.

Sunday Business Post
June 22, 2008
…The other member states see themselves as perfectly entitled to decide on the basis of their own national interests – just as Ireland has – whether to ratify or not. British foreign secretary David Miliband described the idea that Britain should not take its own view of treaty ratification as ”bizarre’‘.

Daily Mail
May 12, 2008
Disease ‘could push Burma toll to 1.5m’
…Mr Miliband said the decision to go ahead with the poll, despite the crisis was ‘bizarre’.

Daily Mail
March 26, 2008
Our troops deserve full inquiry on Iraq, say Tories
..But Foreign Secretary David Miliband said: ‘There is agreement that an inquiry into the Iraq war will be necessary.’ He added: ‘Given reports from Basra today, most people would see that as a bizarre choice of priority now. We say the right time to look at these issues and review the lessons learned is when our troops have finished their work in Iraq.’

Trust Guido on this, it will be denied, but Miliband was the cabinet minister…

"Hello is That the FSA?"

If Lloyds Bank’s Victor Blank was talking to Gordon Brown about take-over plans for HBOS at a cocktail party wasn’t he breaking the takeover code’s strict rules on secrecy? Shouldn’t somebody report them?
Yesterday the headlines said “Gordon Brown orders Lloyds takeover of HBOS”. Does Brown think he can order Lloyds shareholders to vote for the deal? This is a Class 1 transaction, shareholders will decide, not Gordon.

The FT agrees with Guido, is it now official government policy to have the regulators lie to the markets via the media? If the FSA itself is now lying and breaking the laws it is supposed to enforce, is there any point reporting law breakers?

+++ Despite Central Banks FTSE Closes at New Low +++

Despite a $180 billion coordinated global liquidity flood by central banks the FTSE still closed lower at 4,880. Huge blue chip U.S. investment bank Morgan Stanley is rumoured to be in trouble and is losing clients worried about the security of their deposits. A Chinese investment fund is a rumoured buyer…

Perils of Tripartite Regulation

A co-conspirator points out just how brilliantly the tripartite authorities (HM Treasury, Bank of England and the Financial Services Authority) are doing joint up regulation.
Commenting on the soundness of HBOS the FSA yesterday morning said it was:

“a well-capitalised bank that continues to fund its business in a satisfactory way”

Alistair Darling this morning:

Alistair Darling added that without the deal the outlook was “very bleak indeed…We were onto their (HBOS’s) problem for several weeks. It didn’t just suddenly happen…”

So who was lying?

The architecture of City regulation is a mess. The FSA is despised and nobody in the City respects it. The Bank of England has been undermined deliberately by Gordon because it was a threat to his authority. The FSA should change remit and look after exclusively retail customer’s interests and the Bank should keep an eye on the City and re-take control of the Debt Management Office. The Treasury and the Bank should swap staff regularly and be on friendly terms, with the Treasury executing political influence through the Bank. The Bank is closer to the markets than the Treasury and so it should be to inspire confidence in the City…

Newsnight Messed Up the Market Report Yet Again

Are they just doing this to wind Guido up? The Dow closed up some 1700% yesterday according to Newsnight. Do they use a monkey or a random number generator for their market reports? Every other night they screw up this simple report. They should just give up because wrong information is worse than no information. The Dow actually closed at 10,609.66 according to Sky News – a credible, reliable news source.

Cable Shows His Ignorance Again

The over-rated Vince Cable said yesterday that hedge fund managers have made money out of shorting bank shares because taxpayers and governments underwrite the banks. John Redwood (who incidentally is the only politician worth reading on financial matters) calls him on this piece of populist idiocy:

Could someone explain to Mr Cable that the last thing someone short of bank shares wants to happen is an announcement of official support for that bank. That puts the price of the shares up which means the Hedge Fund Managers shorting the shares lose money.

Doh!

The Greatest Capitalist versus the Geeks of Capitalism

As the enemies of capitalism declare the death of the greatest and most productive form of organisation that humanity has ever achieved, it seems appropriate to quote what Warren Buffet, the greatest capitalist of our age, warned about mortgage derivatives in his annual Berkshire Hathaway letter of 2002:
… derivatives severely curtail the ability of regulators to curb leverage and generally get their arms around the risk profiles of banks, insurers and other financial institutions. Similarly, even experienced investors and analysts encounter major problems in analyzing the financial condition of firms that are heavily involved with derivatives contracts. When Charlie and I finish reading the long footnotes detailing the derivatives activities of major banks, the only thing we understand is that we don’t understand how much risk the institution is running.

The derivatives genie is now well out of the bottle, and these instruments will almost certainly multiply in variety and number until some event makes their toxicity clear. Knowledge of how dangerous they are has already permeated the electricity and gas businesses, in which the eruption of major troubles caused the use of derivatives to diminish dramatically. Elsewhere, however, the derivatives business continues to expand unchecked. Central banks and governments have so far found no effective way to control, or even monitor, the risks posed by these contracts.

Charlie and I believe Berkshire should be a fortress of financial strength – for the sake of our owners, creditors, policyholders and employees. We try to be alert to any sort of megacatastrophe risk, and that posture may make us unduly apprehensive about the burgeoning quantities of long-term derivatives contracts and the massive amount of uncollateralized receivables that are growing alongside. In our view, however, derivatives are financial weapons of mass destruction, carrying dangers that, while now latent, are potentially lethal.

Six years after his warning those financial weapons of mass destruction have exploded. AIG, Bear Stearns and Lehmans were full of financial geeks, the highest paid mathematicians on the planet, completely lacking in sense. The pre-cursor Long Term Capital collapse showed that even nobel laureates can be idiots.

Derivatives have their place in the financial markets. They are great tools for hedging and re-distributing risk. However when the PhD wielding geeks started designing derivatives that even the Sage of Omaha could not understand, the boards of the investment banks should have asked what was happening down in the dealing rooms. That they didn’t is why they have now collapsed.

When the investment banks were owned by partners who had all their capital in the firm, the partners were keenly incentivised to control risk. When the investment banks became shareholder-owned global behomeths managed by annual bonus incentivised executives, that risk control was lost. Being fired is not as feared as being totally wiped out financially. That is a crucial difference.

Capitalism doesn’t need to be regulated for risk, it needs more capitalists like Warren Buffet who keenly feel the risk and reap the profits and losses that flow from that risk taking.


Seen Elsewhere

Bercow ‘Wounded’ | Speccie
This Goes Further Than Rotherham | Simon Danczuk
Bercow Mocked | Times
Indy Deletes ‘Jewish Lobby’ Headline | MediaGuido
Cracknell v Boris | Sun
British Muslims are Failing to Integrate | Dan Hodges
Dear Sarah Wollaston… | ASI
Treatment of Ashya King’s Family Authoritarian | Brendan O'Neill
Stop the War Should Disband | Rob Marchant
State Should Not Act as Parent | Kathy Gyngell
Guido’s Column | Sun


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Douglas Carswell…

“I stab people in the front, not the back.”



Owen Jones says:

We also need Zil lanes.


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