Category Archives: Banking industry

Nomi Prins: The Volatility/Quantitative Easing Dance of Doom

The battle between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ of global financial policy is escalating to the point where the ‘haves’ might start to sweat – a tiny little. This phase of heightened volatility in the markets is a harbinger of the inevitable meltdown that will follow the grand plastering-over of a systemically fraudulent global financial system.

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Did Ireland’s 12.5 Percent Corporate Tax Rate Create the Celtic Tiger?

Offshore banking and tax haven expert Nicholas Shaxson has launched a new blog, Fools’ Gold, to look at issues of ‘competitiveness’ and so-called ‘competition’ between nations. We’ve often taken issue with that policy goal, since it gives precedence to crushing labor as a way of lowering product prices to stoke exports. This approach is dubious for anything other than small economies, since all countries cannot be net exporters. Undue focus on exports as a driver of growth results in increasing international friction, such as the currency wars that are underway now. Moreover, as we have discussed separately, trade liberalization has gone hand in hand with liberalization of capital flows, in no small measure due to US efforts to make the world safe for what were then US investment banks. Yet Carmen Reinhardt and Ken Rogoff pointed out in their study of financial crises, higher levels of international capital flows are associated with more frequent and severe financial crises.

In addition, lowering wage rates reduces domestic demand. In countries like the US, where the domestic economy is much larger than the export sector, lowering internal demand to stoke exports is misguided.

Here we look at a first case study, the real reasons behind the growth and meltdown of the famed Celtic tiger, Ireland.

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In Rebuke to Cronyistic New York Fed, TBTF Bank Supervision Shifted to Fed Board of Governors

The Wall Street Journal has published an important account of a behind-the-scenes power struggle at the Federal Reserve over authority for regulation. The result that the New York Fed has had significant amounts of its authority shifted to the Board of Governors in Washington, DC. This is a major win for Fed governor Dan Tarullo, who has emerged as one of the toughest critics of big financial firms at the Fed in the wake of the crisis. It is also a loss for the banks, since the New York Fed is widely recognized as close to Wall Street. Moreover, the Board of Governors is more accountable to citizens (its governors are Federal employees, the Board of Governors is subject to FOIA, although confidential supervisory of all financial regulators is exempt), while the regional Feds can best be thought of as public/private partnerships with weak governance structures,* so this move in theory is also a gain in terms of accountability to the public. However, since Greenspan holdover, deregulation enthusiast and Dodd Frank opponent Scott Alvarez remains as the general counsel of the Board of Governors, it’s unlikely that any newfound serious intent by the Board of Governors will go all that far in practice, given the powerful role that Alvarez exerts over matters regulatory.

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Do Greece, the Troika, and the Eurogroup Actually Have a Deal?

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard has a new article on Greece’s scramble to find the funds to meet it March IMF payments, which are €1.5b in total, with €300 due on Friday. Note that IMF payment dates aren’t as hard and fast as credit card due dates; the agency allows borrowers some leeway if they have a clear intent to pay.

Nevertheless, Evans-Pritchard’s most important observation may be the one at the close of his article:

Whatever piece of paper they signed in Brussels 10 days ago, the two sides are still talking past each other.

In other words, the two sides disagree profoundly as to what the memo means. And that may mean that in reality, there is no deal at all.

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ECB and IMF to Greece: No Escaping the Austerity Hairshirt

We warned readers who are still keen to take the Syriza “Hope is coming” slogan as something more promising that a subconscious echo of the Obama 2008 “Hope and change” campaign, that the memo that Greece signed with the Eurogroup last week did not represent a victory or a lessening of austerity. The comments by the ECB and the IMF on the reform list from Greece submitted Monday confirmed our earlier readings, that austerity is still very much on in Greece.

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Bill Black: HSBC CEO – My Pay Was so Outrageous I Had to Use Tax Havens to Hide it from My Peers

This tidbit from HSBC reveals a new low in the standards of banking, which given how low those already are, amounts to an accomplishment of sorts. Perhaps we should create a Stuart Gulliver Award for other instances of creative extreme seaminess. Nominees?

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