Good Morning Shareholders

How is that Lloyds, a seemingly well run and conservatively managed bank, has in the space of few weeks gone from being solid and unexposed to the U.S. mortgage market to being nationalised by the government? One wonders if the chairman now regrets meeting Jonah Brown at that party…

Trevor Kavanagh this morning points out that the collapse of Britain’s banks was not inevitable, “it hasn’t happened in Canada, Australia or Sweden”. So much for Britain being uniquely placed to weather the financial storm. Gordon designed the regulatory system, Gordon allowed the property bubble to inflate. Gordon’s bubble has now popped.

Gordon is spinning that he is leading the world, either he is delusional or deliberately lying, in Europe they are calling the EU-wide rescue plan the “Sarkozy solution”. If any country can honestly claim leadership, it is actually Sweden, the EU plan being based on a nineties solution to a Swedish banking crisis. Gordon, for some reason, needs us to believe he is saving the world.

Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View

Hutton & Polly v Mises & Milton

Listening to Will Hutton and Polly Toynbee you would think they were actually monetary economists when in reality they are just soundbite savvy talking heads spouting the latest fashions of the metropolitan media elite. Both property millionaires in their own right, three-houses-Polly and Hutton have substantial family stakes in the property market. If they had such great economic foresight would they have got so badly caught out? Rumours circulate as to the viability of Mrs Hutton’s extensive property portfolio.

Toynbee has now realised that Gordon is staying and that her flirtation with David Miliband was just a passing fancy. Her tune has changed, now saying (once again) that Brown is the man for our times when only weeks ago she was telling the cabinet they were spineless not to get rid of him. Laughable.

Polly’s advice and economic genius is as suspect and as reliable as her loyalty to whichever politician she is championing this month. At the beginning of the year she was still loyal to Gordon and chiding Cameron for his new year message which she claimed

smacks of callow point-scoring, with his five repetitions of “Labour’s hopeless” – and it will look even thinner in retrospect in a year’s time if Brown has steered through economic rapids without most voters feeling any adverse effect.

She was confidently predicting

A minor slowdown with neither inflation* nor unemployment rising will see Brown’s old “no boom or bust” boasts triumph this time next year.

Guido suggests we leave Polly and Will to their studio soundbites and ignore their siren voices – they have been advocating their brand of redistributive social democracy as the solution to everything for decades. If policy makers are looking for guidance on avoiding a depression (alas a recession is upon us already) they should dust off the works of Ludwig von Mises and Milton Friedman – Mises wrote the seminalThe Theory of Money and Credit. If this book had been read by more central bankers outside the Bundesbank we would not be in this mess. Guido once listened to an LSE lecture by a Bundesbank board member speaking in reverential tones about Mises’ thinking. He is the high priest of monetary theory.

If history is not to repeat itself then reading Friedman’sThe Great Contraction, 1929-1933should be a priority. If you think this is irrelevant to the state we are in you should note that the current Federal Reserve chairman, Ben Bernanke, pays tribute to this work and is quoted in the introduction to the current edition. Whereas Mises is heavy going, Friedman and Schwartz are essential reading.

Guido can summarise the primary policy response to the situation we are in succintly : cut interest rates, to lessen the pain of the inevitable reckoning.

Is Brillo Hitting the Bottle?

Guido is a close observer of BBC2’s the Daily Politics and The Week, both fronted by Andrew Neil. Recently it has been noticeable that Brillo’s hair seems to have undergone a renaissance. Could be a trick of the light, Mrs Fawkes agrees that is more likely a dark bottle of dye that has done the trick.
Judge for yourself from these photos. Like a before and after advert?

Daily Politics’ Psychologist : "Brown Insecure", "Self Harming"

So Guido is not the only one who thinks Brown is the Prime Mentalist. The meme is mainstream now.

On the BBC’s Daily Politics show this morning a mental health professional went public on national television.

Friday Caption Contest (Bust Banks, Gordon Giggles Edition)

Gordon’s "Falklands Moment"

Best comment of the day from Talwin:
“I notice over the past day or two some commentators wondering if by chance the current economic disasters might not turn out to be Brown’s Falklands moment.

D’you know I think they’re right. With Brown as Galtieri.”
He is telling the people of Swindon that he has brought down oil prices “We’ve had some success in getting it down.” Nothing to do with global recession reducing demand.

He has invoked Anti-Terror laws against Icelandic Fundamentalists banks rather than normal bankruptcy procedures. He threatened to freeze the assets of other Icelandic owned companies, without any legal basis. Is he going to arrest Father Christmas at Hamley’s if Iceland doesn’t pay local councils for their losses?

Last night in a BBC interview, during which he smiled randomly like an over-medicated hypermaniac, he told Nick Robinson that “everything was being done” and that “I have to restore confidence in the banking system”. Bonkers – bank stocks collapsed on the open this morning. “I” is the Prime Mentalist…

Judgement Day : Lehman’s CDS Auction Today

If you think it is bad now, imagine what it will be like if the reckoning for Lehman’s Credit Default Swaps goes bad today. Many market players think this is the reason banks are hoarding cash, because no one really knows if these derivatives will settle without serious mishap.

Lehman’s bonds are trading at 13c on the dollar – and there is $128 billion in bonds outstanding. The banking system is looking at booking a $100 billion hit today. There are an estimated 350 counterparties and nearly 2000 related securities.

Guido thinks that Greenspan could have been right on this, the risk has been distributed, it will hurt, hopefully only just wounds rather than causing major fatalities. If it goes smoothly we could be looking at a monster relief rally… but it is still a bear market…

+++ NO BUYERS FOR BANK STOCKS +++

HBOS DOWN 25% BARCLAYS DOWN 15%
RBS NO QUOTE LLOYDS TSB DOWN 13%

[…]

+ READ MORE +

+++ FTSE CRASHES 10% ON OPEN +++ +++ 4000 LEVEL SMASHED +++

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Dow Breaks 9000, General Motors Downgraded

Back in 1955, Charlie Wilson, then chairman of General Motors famously said “What is good for General Motors is good for America”.

53 years later and the stock is at a 58 year low after GM was downgraded. Mattel, the

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Bankrupt Banks? Gordon Giggles

[…]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Jean-Claude Juncker:

“We will never let the Greek people down. And we know the Greek people don’t want to let down the European Union.”

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