Top 10 at 10: IMF's sobering forecast; Agreeing with Tony Alexander; Geithner skewered

Top 10 at 10: IMF's sobering forecast; Agreeing with Tony Alexander; Geithner skewered
Here's my top 10 Internet links at 10 am. I welcome your suggestions in the comments below. Also, here's my explanation of why I appear almost obsessed with the US banking crisis. 1. I reckon this is a must-read for anyone following the global economy. This is the IMF's release on its revised forecasts for the global economy. The table reproduced here below is particularly useful. The IMF sees global output falling 1.3% in 2009, whereas it had forecast 0.5% growth previously. 2. May 4 is shaping up as D-Day for the US banking system. That's when the US Treasury will release the results of its stress tests. Markets are already worried, Bloomberg reports. 3. UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling revealed the depth of the British economic crisis in his budget overnight, which included an increase in the top tax rate to 50% from 40%. Edmund Conway at The Telegraph cuts through the noise in this piece. Here's a taste.
The only reason the UK has been able to rescue its banks, and to pump extra cash into the economy in the form of unemployment benefits and the small and temporary Budget giveaway this year, is because we have been able to sell gilts at a low interest rate. Those days are surely over. Either the interest rate on those bonds will have to rise, meaning higher borrowing costs for everyone in the UK in the coming decades, or Britain must either default or be bailed out by the International Monetary Fund. Simple as that. When this is combined with the Budget's extraordinary assault on the savings and earnings of Britain's most prosperous, it means Labour has laid itself open both to a full-on Conservative assault for harpooning Britain's most successful workers, and to economic derision as it spells out the full horror of its fiscal legacy. When this is combined with the Budget's extraordinary assault on the savings and earnings of Britain's most prosperous, it means Labour has laid itself open both to a full-on Conservative assault for harpooning Britain's most successful workers, and to economic derision as it spells out the full horror of its fiscal legacy.
4. Here another leak of the US stress tests, this time from the Associated Press. This one suggests the US Treasury will treat loans of regional banks more harshly than the big banks. It feels like something white and washed. 5. I agree with BNZ's Tony Alexander here in the Waikato Times that breaking out of a long and high fixed rate mortgage may not be the best idea. 6. A must read from the New York Times on how the housing market is still imploding in the United States. 7. An excellent piece at The Economist on home ownership. Here's a taste.
Housing suffers from two further weaknesses as an investment. It sucks up disproportionately large amounts of money, falling foul of the idea that investors should diversify: in America the equity tied up in houses accounts for 45% of the net worth of the average householder. And it is illiquid. If you need to raise money, you cannot sell a room or two, whereas you can always sell a few shares. It is hard to argue houses are the best asset for building wealth.
8. The enoughism movement explained on a great AussieUbank Youtube video. Your view? 9. Here's an unorthodox idea to kick start spending in America. The US Treasury could put an expiry date on dollar bills. If they're not spent after a certain date they are declared worthless, says Felix Salmon, with his tongue firmly in cheek. It worked in Zimbabwe right?
If Tim Geithner started putting expiry dates on the bills he signed, that would do wonders for the velocity of cash in the economy, I'm sure. And it would help reduce Treasury liabilities, too. What's not to love?
In New Zealand we would put the idea on a Tui billboard and cheer "Yeah Right" in chorus. 10. This is an excellent profile of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner in Portfolio by Gary Weiss. HT Felix Salmon A taste here.
When criticism was at a fever pitch, though, the constant undertone was one of surprise, even betrayal. It was unnerving that the most powerful domestic policy official in the Obama administration did not have anything approaching charisma, sometimes seemed to lack a sufficient grasp of finance, and at times came across as a soulless, unimaginative technocrat who seemed to be in thrall to the big banks. The whispers continue: Is Tim Geithner nothing more than Henry Paulson Lite, a creature of Wall Street but without the Goldman-Sachs-CEO financial chops?

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