By Professor Krassimir Petrov, who has taught economics and finance in the U.S., Ireland, Bulgaria, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Taiwan, and Macau
The current credit-ratings system is a complete farce that has caused damage in the trillions. It needs to be completely reformed into a more transparent, competitive system. An open-source approach presents a perfect solution.
You have to give a fund manager points for admitting to having a “history of contentious posturing.” Hugh You have to give a fund manager points for admitting to having a “history of contentious posturing.” Hugh Hendry’s also a reformed gold bug, which shows an unusual flexibility of thinking (once people join the gold cult, they seldom leave). Even if you don’t necessarily agree, his talk will serve as a useful grist for thought (hat tip Ian Fraser). Hendry discusses the end of an broadly adopted national strategy, mercantilism, and what he sees as the implications.
Roughly eight years ago, I had lunch with an ex-McKinsey colleague who had started a venture capital firm. His partners were raising a second fund. He was leaving. I wish I had taken notes, but his message was that the industry did not work.
Proponents of Dodd-Frank have an incentive to argue the law is a tough crack-down on Wall Street. It’s a core part of Barack Obama’s narrative, that he bailed out the banks, but then did what FDR did in the 1930s with a series of tight regulations. Of course, it was immediately obvious that Dodd-Frank was an afterthought of the Bush/Obama administrations, that the real policy framework involved three key fights – the Fannie/Freddie bailouts under the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (the so-called bazooka law), TARP, and the reappointment of Ben Bernanke. These fights were supplemented by Eric Holder’s decision to give legal forbearance to Wall Street executives, to not prosecute for rigging the CDO market or any number of illegalities in the foreclosure space.
After this radical consolidation of banking power in the hands of bailed out Too Big To Fail institutions, the Obama administration went to work on Dodd-Frank, which was essentially a 2000 page mash note to regulators saying “please don’t let that crisis happen again, it was awkward’. And now the evidence is beginning to trickle out that Dodd-Frank is a nothingburger.
Yves here. Readers are likely to assume that the “broken market” of the headline is US housing related, say the private mortgage securitization market, but the subject is what once was the gold standard of trading markets, equities.
Index Universe has cited a study by the Tabb Group that finds that investor confidence in stock markets is even lower than in the period immediately following the flash crash of 2010. Back then, 53% of respondents had high or very high confidence in the markets, and only 15% weak or very weak confidence. As of its August 2012 survey, the number with positive views and negative views were equal, at 34%. This interview with Chris Sparrow, an expert on high frequency trading, describes why he thinks the market is now fundamentally flawed and what can be done to reform it.
If you merely looked at the SEC’s record on enforcement, you’d conclude that it suffered from a Keystone Kops-like inability to get out of its own way. The question remains whether that outcome is the result of unmotivated leadership (ex in the safe realm of insider trading cases) and long-term budget starvation leading to serious skills atrophy, or whether the SEC really, truly, is so deeply intellectually captured by the financial services industry that it thinks industry members don’t engage in fraud, they only make “mistakes”?
Yves here. While this post by Rajiv Sethi contains some important observations about valuation, I’d like to quibble with the notion that there is such a thing as a correct price for as vague a promise as a stock (by contrast, for derivatives, it is possible to determine a theoretical price in relationship to an actively traded underlying instrument, so even though the underlying may be misvalued, the derivative’s proper value given the current price and other parameters can be ascertained).
Goldman seems to be making a renewed effort at PR in the wake of the letter by derivatives staffer Greg Smith accusing the firm of caring only about profits and treating customers as stuffees (“muppets” was revealed to be the new term of art). That observation probably came as no surprise to anyone save Goldman staffers, most of whom probably thought they had conned their clients into believing otherwise, and a few like Smith who believed the party line.
The Goldman CEO, Lloyd Blankfein, had an interview today with a very friendly outlet, Bloomberg News. The chat served to remind viewers of how inward looking and self referential the financial services industry has become.