Home > Economics, Stuff > >Thoughts and observations over the last week

>Thoughts and observations over the last week

>I haven’t posted for a week in a JF Beck inspired burst of apathy or equally reasonable reason…so sue me…

Here are some observations I have made in the last week, as well as some other factoids that will make your head do the Linda Blair thing in The Exorcist, if it has any ability to flip out any further.

The financial meltdown – why didn’t we see it coming?

Remember Nick Leeson?

He’s the guy who managed to kill Her Majesty the Queen’s personal bankers, Barings Bank (founded 1762, unfounded 1995), in a series of unauthorised derivatives transactions totalling $1.4 billion.

That was 13 years ago. You’d assume that financial institutions around the world took notice and changed their oversight policies?

And you’d be wrong.

In 2004, the National Australia Bank uncovered unauthorised transactions amounting to $360 million, claiming the scalps of the Chairman and CEO along the way.

That was in Australia; a country with rules supposedly much stronger than most of the rest of the world.

Remember Jerome Kerviel?

He was the garlic eating, rarely washing, typical Frenchman trader with Societe Generale that managed to make Nick Leeson look like a piker by running up losses of $7 billion.

People whispered about Madoff and his too good to be true returns but nobody bothered to undertake a proper audit. Too many high profile customers, no doubt, dulled the authorities’ collective will.

These people all acted illegally but their actions were a pointer to a future collapse of financial markets, as they signaled that oversight took a very, very back seat to profits in a market awash with money pumped in by irresponsible central banks.

Is the Obama administration already the most incompetent in living memory?

It’s a fair question to ask.

When Obama supporters in the mainstream media like Jim Cramer and a host of others along with such luminaries as Warren Buffett are already jumping off the bus after only six weeks in office then you know that something has gone seriously wrong.

When Obama said he was going to change things he apparently meant it.

Why this comes as a shock to middle of the road liberals has got me beat.

The stock market has taken a pummeling off the back of Obama’s insane, economy destroying non-stimulus package.

His staff is also concerned that he’s very tired due to all the work he’s had to do to deal with the financial crisis. In light of the performance of the markets every time he opens his mouth perhaps he should take a break from matters economic for a while.

That he’s charging forward with socialised health care while the means for paying for it go down the gurgler seems to be lost on him.

And what the hell was the 25 DVD of classic American movies given as a gift to British PM Gordon Brown all about?

In the same week he announces a $900 million gift to Hamas he can’t come up with anything better than a $49.95 ‘gift’ from the White House tourist shop for America’s closest ally???

Or is there something Obama has not told Brown about the status of their relationship?

Europe seems really stuffed

The total commitment of Gordon Brown’s bailout currently stands at 1.3 trillion pounds.

“How much is that?”, I hear you ask.

The UK’s GDP is 1.4 trillion pounds.

That would be like the US stimulus package reaching $12 trillion – which it may well do – or Australia’s rising from its current $42 billion to $800 billion.

How many generations of Britons will be required to pay that back?

Here’s another great fact from Europe…

…Austrian banks are heavily exposed to flimsy loans to Eastern European countries who now show no inclination to pay it back on the not unreasonable grounds that they can’t.

How much did Austrian banks loan?

70% of Austria’s GDP.

So they’re pretty stuffed.

Clearly, Austria is not run by actual Austrian School economists.

The big question is will the EU hold together through the first major crisis it’s had to deal with?

The irony is that countries who have promoted the benefits of the EU the hardest – Germany and France – now find themselves in the position of potentially having to bail out their European partners. I’m not too sure that taxpayers in those two countries will be too thrilled about that…

I reckon the thing will hold together by a thread. I hope so. Maybe it’ll knock some sense into them.


The Climate

A pretty unremarkable week overall.

A protest by some of the Climate Taliban held in Washington DC endured near blizzard conditions.

The world failed to come to an agreement that would bind all nations to reducing CO2 emissions.

No animal species went extinct.

No islands sunk.

No coastal cities were inundated with water.

The Artic ice cover was pretty much normal.

As was the Antarctic.

And the Climate Taliban continued their society wrecking advocy.

As I said, a pretty normal week.

(Nothing Follows)
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Categories: Economics, Stuff
  1. March 11, 2009 at 12:43 am

    >Just wait until Obama invites the Australian PM over: Crocodile Dundee and Mad Max movies on DVD with a side of Foster’s beer for everyone. He’ll probably meet him while standing on his head to make the PM feel more at home.

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