Here's my Top 10 links from around the Internet at 10 am. I welcome your additions in the comments below or please send suggestions for tomorrow's Top 10 at 10 to email@example.com I don't get yelled at in executive meetings anymore, because there aren't any more executive meetings... 1. Brian Gaynor made some interesting connections between PGG Wrightson and PGC (Marac) in his column in the NZ Herald on Saturday. He compared the manoeuvrings and related party dealings of PGG's Craig Norgate and PGC's George Kerry to the corporate raiders from the 1980s and linked their moves together. He also made the point that Kerr is closely aligned to John Darby, the property developer behind Jacks Point in Queenstown.
The two South Island companies have come under the influence of two ambitious and aggressive businessmen, Craig Norgate and George Kerr, with Norgate stepping down as chairman of PGG Wrightson just two days after Kerr gained the ascendancy at Pyne Gould in controversial circumstances. The two events are probably related. Coinciding with their stewardship, and pending stewardship, has been the spinoff of a poorly performing IPO, unpaid related party obligations, a major uncompleted deal, the sale of a related party company to a listed entity, the shuffling of assets from one subsidiary to another, unfulfilled expectations and, last but not least, poor sharemarket performances.
2. Rob Stock at the Sunday Star Times wrote about a survey the newspaper did, where it asked readers to rate how much they trusted banks, financial advisors, fund managers and insurance advisers. Fund managers rated worse than financial advisors, who rated worse than bankers.
We asked readers to rate financial advisers, sharebrokers, fund managers, mortgage brokers and insurance advisers on a scale of one to five, where five represented a high level of trust and one, that they trusted them "not at all". Out of 1200 people who completed the survey, fewer than 1 percent of readers gave them a five. For financial advisers, 71 percent chose an untrustworthy score of one or two. Fund managers were trusted even less with three-quarters (75 percent) of readers scoring them a one or two. Banks were more trusted but did not escape the backlash. Just 6 percent readers said they trusted their bank a lot, 10 percent trusted them not at all and a further 24 percent scored them a two.
3. Kieran Trass believes there is further house price falls to come, the Sunday Star Times reported.
"If it's not urgent to buy now, keep accumulating more deposit. Cash is king and next year it will have a lot more power than it does right now." Trass believes that even though average property prices have been climbing, the increase is a "false start". He believes the property slump will last until at least 2011. "We'll be lucky if it's over in the next couple of years." A regular property commentator and author, Trass says while there could be exceptions in some segments of the market, property prices needed to fall 10% before they returned to "fundamental" rather than speculative values.
4. Here's my blog at NZHerald in which I comment on the back taxes unpaid by the banks. I think they should pay up now.
The banks are taking a big risk if they insist on appealing this decision to the Supreme Court and dragging it out. First is the financial risk. Every year this drags on is another $200 million and growing in interest owed on the unpaid taxes. Compound interest works a treat for the IRD. Second is the huge reputational risk. Banks are already being accused by the Reserve Bank of overcharging for floating mortgage rates. Businesses are accusing them of withdrawing lending and charging high rates just when businesses can least afford it, forcing them to sack workers. Public anger is growing. They also have no excuses. Standard and Poor's and Moody's have said their credit ratings are not in danger if they have to pay their back taxes. ANZ and BNZ's parent NAB has raised more than A$4 billion ($4.96 billion) from its shareholders in the past couple of weeks. The Australian banks can afford it. It's time ASB, ANZ, BNZ, National and Westpac paid their taxes. Just like the rest of us.
5. The markets are getting jittery that the bailouts might be ending and they'll have to survive on their own. British bond traders were furious on Friday night after a member of the Bank of England's monetary policy setting committee said the bank might stop printing money through bond buy-backs. Quelle horreur. The comments came moments after a 5 billion pound bond offering, FT.com reported.
Scott Thiel, head of European fixed income at BlackRock, said: "This is one of the biggest single gilts transactions of all time, and the Bank jolts the market with significant market-moving information only minutes after the deal has been sealed." Mr Sentance's comments irked government officials. One said: "The problem with the external members of the Bank of England is that they live in this cocooned, separate world and do not consider how they might move the markets." Benchmark 10-year gilt yields, which have an inverse relationship to the price of bonds, jumped 0.12 percentage points to 3.96 per cent on investor nervousness that quantitative easing could be nearing its end.
6. Tyler Durden at ZeroHedge points out that that Securities and Exchange Commission have started an investigation into Goldman "Vampire Squid" Sachs' trading practices. 7. Chinese state-controlled chemicals giant Sinochem is in talks to buy former NZ herbicides group Nufarm for as much as A$4 billion, the SMH reported. Nufarm used to be based in New Zealand before skipping over to Australia a few years ago. This is all about China looking to diversify its foreign reserves out of US Treasuries and into anything else that produces something useful to the Chinese economy. This will be our future. Chinese companies will be looking to buy our commodity producing assets as soon as they can. Who will be first?
Sinochem is China's biggest integrated agricultural company with fertiliser, pesticide and seed products, and is also a large player in high-end commercial real estate and non-banking finance.
8. British GDP fell 5.6% in the 12 months to the end of June, meaning the economic collapse of the mother country is as bad as it was early in the Great Depression of the 1930s, The Daily Telegraph reported.
According to calculations by Martin Weale of the National Institute for Economic and Social Research the profile of the current recession is now almost identical to the decline in Britain's output between 1929 and 1931. The 5.6pc contraction over the past year almost matches the 5.8pc fall in the year preceding the second quarter of 1931, during which Credit Anstalt in Austria collapsed, triggering a second wave of economic seizure across Europe. The recession is far deeper and more severe than those of the early 1980s and 1990s, Mr Weale added. "Gordon Brown is now competing with Ramsay MacDonald "“ not a comparison he would much like," he said. "It looks as if we are pretty much tracking the 1930s.
9. Commercial real estate in America is collapsing and could be the next bomb to destroy banks, Fortune reported. HT Andrew Patterson at Radio Live.
Regional banks can no longer ignore the elephant in the room -- their exposure to the commercial real estate bust. Though housing markets remain weak, analysts expect credit problems over the next year to center on commercial real estate -- mortgages on office and apartment buildings and shopping malls, as well as construction, development and industrial loans. U.S. banks hold some $1.8 trillion worth of commercial loans, according to Federal Reserve data. Big regional banks, including PNC (PNC, Fortune 500) of Pittsburgh, KeyCorp (KEY, Fortune 500) of Cleveland and BB&T (BBT, Fortune 500) of Richmond, Va., have more than half their loan books in commercial loans.
10. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress last week that there are about 25 bank holding companies that are too big to fail. Here's the list from the Fed itself. It is a morally hazardous list. HT Rolfe Winkler at Reuters