"People are abandoning equities as an asset class," says Scott Minerd, who helps oversee about $30 billion as chief investment officer at Guggenheim Partners Asset Management in Santa Monica, California. "The market is trying to cope with the idea of lower earnings prospects and that the economy won't turn around in the near term."Crank it up The Bank of England cut its official cash rate by 50 basis points to 0.5% overnight and announced a plan to buy back up to 150 billion pounds worth of government and corporate bonds in a quantitative easing often described as 'money printing'. Here's more in FT.com.
Your thoughts? I wonder what this does for economic confidence overall. It's a sign of desperation and I don't think Britain has a deflation problem yet. Should New Zealand do the same? Our current poll results (top right) suggest most people think not.
The European Central Bank cut its official rate by 50 basis points to a record low 1.5% and forecast a 2.7% fall in Eurozone GDP output this year, which was worse than its December forecast for a 0.5% contraction. Here's more in WSJ.com.
The European banking system and the Euro itself are wobbly. I reckon the main global grief we're going to see in the next month or two is going to emanate from the European continent (and Ireland).
Meanwhile in China, Premier Wen Jiabao disappointed Western investors by not increasing the Chinese government's stimulus package in his set piece address to the Chinese version of parliament. Here's more in FT.com.
I worry about the Chinese stimulus plan. It's mostly about stimulating exports. Who will buy them? Won't this just drive down prices, cause deflation and we all know the rest. Some have compared this stimulus plan to a modern version of Smoot Hawley.
Moody's cut JP Morgan's ratings outlook to negative overnight and has put the ratings for Bank of America and Wells Fargo on review as the ratings agency is worried high credit costs and the deepening recession will increase bad loans. See more here at Bloomberg. Citigroup's shares fell briefly below US$1 to become a penny dreadful. How embarrassing.
The Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) extended the ban on short selling stocks for almost 3 months to give banks, in particular, more breathing space against rumoured hedge fund attacks ready to go. More here in the Australian. Regular readers may remember me pointing to this Sydney Morning Herald article from earlier this week that said hedge funds were ready to "sell the buggery" out of stocks in banks that "stuck out like dog's bollocks". There. I used the words "buggery" and "bollocks" for the fourth time on this website. Huzzah!
General Motors' annual report notes its auditors don't believe it is a 'going conern'. What a debacle. It will ask for more money. Obama will give it, saying he has no choice. The paralysis will go on. Let the bad fail and get on with life. The bondholders in GM don't think the current plan is viable. They may be talking their books so as to get a bigger discount when their debt is converted to equity, but still, it's a mess. Here's this on Bloomberg.Inflation is coming U.S. government plans to spend more than $11.6 trillion to revive the economy are going to accelerate the pace of inflation and send raw-material prices surging, says Michael Pento, the chief economist at Delta Global Advisors, who correctly predicted last year's commodity collapse. Here's the excellent piece on Bloomberg. Click on the 'graphic' tag to see the chart. Britain swallowed a python Martin Wolf and the FT.com makes some interesting points about the scale of the bank assets now being insured by the UK taxpayer and speculates, quite fairly I think, about whether Britain will be bankrupted by these guarantees. Here's a taste.
The UK government looks increasingly like a python that has swallowed a hippopotamus. In acting as insurer of last resort to the British-based banking system, it is taking on huge risks on behalf of taxpayers. If this turned out to be a global depression, with huge losses for British-based banks, fiscal solvency might even come into question. Can this make sense? I doubt it.The end of the tax haven and the shadow banking system Stephen Bartholomeuz at Business Spectator has an interesting piece on how the mess around UBS' fine and disclosure of secret tax records is ballooning into full scale crackdown on tax havens and shadow banks by both the US and UK. Here's a taste.
What started as a distracting, and costly, sideshow from the main event of sub-prime losses for Switzerland's biggest bank, UBS, is threatening to turn into a full-scale assault on tax havens that threatens the Swiss banking system, among others. It could also envelop even the "shadow banking system" that operates largely out of tax havens and which has been held responsible for contributing to the global financial crisis.It couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of people. And one rant: Can you believe our elected representatives? At a time like this, I find it stunning that the city council is prepared to spend NZ$13.5 million of it's (and other government's) money on creating a herd of elephants at the Auckland Zoo. We need to reduce our spending. Not increase it on useless, pointless things that do nothing to generate wealth in the long run. Here's the story in the NZ Herald.