Category Archives: Summer rerun

Summer Rerun: Geithner and Summers as Obama’s Cheney and Rumsfeld

Readers new to this site may be unfamiliar with Yves’ summer rerun series, in which she reprises vintage NC posts that have stood the test of time. I would like to add a post of mine from Credit Writedowns to the lot. The recent New York Times piece from Joe Nocera on Sheila Bair is […]

Read more...

“Summer” Rerun: Why You Should Hate the Treasury Bailout Proposal

This post first ran September 21, 2008 A mere two weeks ago, the Fannie/Freddie rescue was called “the mother of all bailouts” by some commentators. If the plans of the Administration come to fruition, it will shortly be surpassed by the $700 billion mortgage rescue plan proposed by Hank Paulson late last week. The increase […]

Read more...

“Summer” Rerun: Brace for the Tsunami: Fitch, S&P Downgrade AIG (Updated Again)

This post first appeared on September 15, 2008 I have no idea what the morrow will bring, but if it is only as bad as Monday’s trading, we should all consider ourselves lucky. Ftich dowgraded AIG to A with a negative watch (hat tip reader Steve) S&P downgraded AIG to A-2 with a negative outlook […]

Read more...

‘Summer’ Rerun: Buiter Provokes Wrath at Jackson Hole, Says Fed Too Close to Wall Street

This post first appeared on August 24, 2008

Go Willem Buiter! The London School of Economics prof and former Bank of England and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development official has been saying for some time that the Fed suffers from “cognitive regulatory capture” and has been far too responsive to the needs of Wall Street. It’s been puzzling to watch his detailed, well argued criticisms go unnoticed, particularly when they have been offered at forums where one would think they’d be impossible to ignore (for instance, a conference co-hosted by the New York Fed where Buiter presented a pretty harsh paper on what he called the North Atlantic Financial Crisis).

Well, he finally seems to have gotten through, perhaps because he is forward enough to criticize Fed officials to their face at an event they are hosting. Or maybe it’s because the pattern of conduct he decries is so patently obvious that the key actors can no longer fool themselves.

Read more...

“Summer” Rerun: Welcome Willem Buiter and Mohamed El-Erian to the Banana Republic Club!

The time has come to announce the formation of the Banana Republic Club. Membership is open, with the sole requirement being that nominees correctly discern behaviors in advanced economies that resemble those of corrupt developing countries, which for sake of convenience are referred to as banana republics. Members are eligible to receive a Carmen Miranda hat, although they are not required to wear it.

Brad DeLong has his Ancient and Hermetic Order of the Shrill. Why should he have all the fun?

Read more...

“Summer” Rerun: CNBC Publicizes This Blog

This post first appeared on June 8, 2008

I suppose I should be pleased, since readers wrote to inform me that Charles Gasparino of CNBC made mention of us on Friday (this clip, starting at 1:30) for our coverage of Lehman. However, I would have been happier if the statements made were correct. It’s remarkable that a seasoned journalist would assert that a critic of a company was short its stock, which implies an intent to manipulate its price, with no factual basis for that view, and no effort made to verify that statement. And indeed it is untrue, for I have never been short Lehman or indeed, any stock.

It’s even more remarkable that that same journalist called me a couple of hours later to threaten litigation over the accuracy of my reporting.

Read more...

“Summer” Rerun: MBIA Lies in Attack on New York Times

This post first appeared on June 19, 2008

Let’s start with some admissions: Gretchen Morgenson, one of two authors (the other is Vikas Bajaj) of a takedown piece on MBIA yesterday, has some detractors in the blogsphere because, frankly, her understanding of credit instruments leaves something to be desired. Her critics overlook her solid work on executive comp and corporate malfeasance. When she has access to court documents and SEC filings. she is specific and accurate.

Based on watching months of the slugfest between MBIA and Bill Ackman, where MBIA would make vitriolic charges against Ackman which (aside from the obvious fact that he was short) often deliberately misconsrued what he had written (written, mind you, so it was possible to track things back), I’d take Morgenson over MBIA in general, and in particular, since the first two items (the most important ones by far) in its salvo against the piece are a bald-faced lie followed by an attempt at obfuscation that actually confirms the NYT’s position.

Read more...

“Summer” Rerun: Should the Fed Be Independent?

This post was first published on June 6, 2008

An article in today’s Wall Street Journal, “Insider Joins Critics of the Fed, Faulting Credit-Crisis Programs,” discusses at some length a recent speech by Richmond Fed president Jeffrey Lacker in which he took issue with some of the Fed’s recent financial services industry rescue efforts. The article itself failed to do justice to his speech, which was more nuanced than the usual “bailing out banks creates moral hazard” argument.

In fact, as we’ll discuss, the expanded charter of the Fed calls into question the appropriateness of its independence. It is increasingly making resource allocation decisions which are political in nature and should arguably be debated and determined in that realm.

Read more...

“Summer” Rerun: Is the Commodities Boom Driven by Speculation?

This post first appeared on May 9, 2008 The question above may seem foolish. Oil has just passed $124 a barrel despite improvement in the dollar. Commodities prices are moving less in lockstep than before (gold and wheat in particular have backed off significantly from their highs) suggesting that buying is not the result of […]

Read more...

“Summer” Rerun: Is Liquidity All That It’s Cracked Up to Be?

This post first appeared on May 6, 2008 Steve Waldman at Interfludity did me the high compliment of picking up on an issue that is important to me and running with it: Yves Smith packs a powerful insight into an unassuming sentence: Liquidity is not a virtue in and of itself unless it produces a […]

Read more...

“Summer” Rerun: The Treasury Doth Speak With Forked Tongue (Housing Bailout Edition)

This post first appeared on February 22, 2008 Man, not only does the Administration tell whoppers, but it is completely shameless about them. The latest sighting comes from Reuters: Treasury Undersecretary Robert Steel told the Reuters Housing Summit it is proper for homeownership to hold a special status…. “If I default on my credit card […]

Read more...

Summer Rerun: Ban “No One Could Have Foreseen the Crisis”

This post first appeared on April 10, 2008 Floyd Norris of the New York Times, in an otherwise fine piece, “It’s a Crisis, And Ideas Are Scarce” has a paragraph that set my teeth on edge. But let’s deal with the parts that have merit first, and hold the rant in abeyance. Norris uses the […]

Read more...

Summer Rerun: Bear/JP Morgan: The Rashomon Defense

This post first appeared on April 8, 2008 While there have been dark mutterings about how Bear shareholders were cheated in the sale of the firm to JP Morgan, I don’t have much sympathy for that view. Plenty of businesses fail every day; equity investors usually lose their entire stake and employees are fired. While […]

Read more...

Summer Rerun: Why the Happy Talk About the Credit Crisis?

This post first appeared on April 17, 2008 I am frequently mystified at what goes on in the markets. I am even more mystified when people who ought to know better make pronouncements that appear to be profoundly counter-factual. Even if they are talking their own book, the high odds of being revealed as bald-faced […]

Read more...