Top 10 at 10: The Stress starts tonight; GM shuts plants for 9 weeks; Negative interest rates?
24th Apr 09, 10:01am
Here's my top 10 links from around the Internet at 10 am. I welcome your suggestions in the comments below. 1. The US Treasury will start privately briefing the big US banks on the results of its widely anticipated 'Stress Test' later tonight. The results will be made public on Monday May 4, WSJ.com reports. This means the next week or two could see 'pre-announcements' by stressed backs trying to get ahead of the game. The fact it's all announced on a Monday is interesting too. Usually the collapses and rescue deals are done on weekends to avoid markets complicating negotiations. The next couple of weekends could be very interesting. 2. America's Federal Deposit Insurance Corp (FDIC) is woefully underfunded, Michael Shedlock argues at Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis. He points to the FDIC's Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) reserve ratio dropping by 75% inside a year. Here's the chart. Here's a taste of what it might mean.
Reserves have plunged, no doubt on their way to negative territory as the number of problem institutions soars. Expect to see requests for more taxpayer bailouts as the FDIC well runs dry.3. Chrysler is likely to be put into bankruptcy protection next week, the New York Times is reporting. 4. General Motors will close most of its plants for 9 weeks this (Northern Hemisphere) summer to clear unsold inventory, the AP reports. 5. The always excellent Tyler Durden at ZeroHedge points out that the US Federal Reserve has reported a loss of 28% on a bunch of commercial loans it took over from Bear Stearns and a loss of 36% from a bunch of residential loans from Bear Stearns. 6. Paul Krugman at the New York Times points out the absurdities of an accounting system that judges Citigroup's profits healthier because it was seen by the markets as more likely to fail, while Morgan Stanley's profits fell because it was seen as healthier. 7. Here's the Onion's immediate recall of all US dollars. Don't worry. It's not true... Treasury Department Issues Emergency Recall Of All US Dollars 8. Matt Nolan at TVHE has some interesting musings about issue of negative interest rates. He concludes it's not easy and points out this a question of whether it can be done, rather than whether it should be done. 9. US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is failing to lift his game in appearances before Congress, says Andrew Leonard at Salon.com. Here's a taste. HT Felix Salmon
I've watched or pored over the transcripts of almost all of Geithner's testimony before Congress, and it's getting harder and harder to make a case in defense of his brief tenure. Tuesday's hearing, before the Congressional Oversight Panel empowered by Congress to watch over the TARP program, ranks as one of his least satisfying performances so far. Results of the stress tests are due soon, his Public-Private Investment Program is getting assailed from all sides, the banks are releasing profit numbers that are clearly the result of dodgy accounting techniques, and still, Geithner refuses to defend his actions with any argument more compelling than that, in the administration's judgment, their chosen strategy is the least costly way to ensure the stability and health of the overall financial system. It's a shtick that is wearing thin.10. Nouriel Roubini at RGE Monitor releases his forecast for the global economy for 2009. He sees a 1.9% contraction in 2009, which is worse than the 1.3% forecast by the IMF earlier this week. Here's a taste.
Many analysts and commentators are pointing out that the second derivative of economic activity is turning positive (i.e. economies are still contracting but a slower rather than accelerated rate) and that green shoots of an economic recovery are blossoming. RGE Monitor's analysis of the data suggests that the global economic contraction is still in full swing with a very severe, a deep and protracted U-shaped recession. Last year's economic consensus forecast of a V-shaped short and shallow recession has vanished. While the rate of economic contraction is slowing compared to the free fall rates of Q4 of 2008 and Q1 of 2009, we are still a long way away from the economic bottom and from a sustained recovery of growth. In particular, in Europe and Japan there is little evidence of a positive second derivative of economic activity.And, finally, I couldn't resist this as the last video for the weekend. For all those heavy watchers of financial television. It made me laugh. Prison Economy Spirals As Price Of Pack Of Cigarettes Exceeds Two Hand Jobs