Top 10 links; Dow collapsing; Greenspan says nationalise them; Financial nationalism; Harvard's woes

Top 10 links; Dow collapsing; Greenspan says nationalise them; Financial nationalism; Harvard's woes

Here's my top 10 links from around the Internet for the last day or so. We welcome your additions in the comments below. Dow collapsing The Dow closed down 250 points at a 12 year low of 7,115 on fears a longer and deeper recession would hit technology stocks. Tech stocks are the last of the 'safe' stocks to be pummelled. For technicians out there, I'm told the recent break through a key support at 7,450 and the October 2002 low of 7,286 means the next (only minor) is at 6,978. After that there is no support until between 4,000 and 5,000.  Here's the Bloomberg story. Lessons from Japan's lost decade? Renowned FT commentator Martin Wolf asks what lessons can be learned from Japan's lost decade and its inability to euthanise zombie banks, given it appears something similar confronts much of the rest of the world now.  Here's a taste

"...we confront a balance-sheet deflation that, albeit far shallower than that in Japan in the 1990s, has a far wider reach. It is, for this reason, fanciful to imagine a swift and strong return to global growth. Where is the demand to come from? From over-indebted western consumers? Hardly. From emerging country consumers? Unlikely. From fiscal expansion? Up to a point. But this still looks too weak and too unbalanced, with much coming from the US. China is helping, but the eurozone and Japan seem paralysed, while most emerging economies cannot now risk aggressive action. Last year marked the end of a hopeful era. Today, it is impossible to rule out a lost decade for the world economy. This has to be prevented. Posterity will not forgive leaders who fail to rise to this great challenge.

 

Now people are beginning to believe it Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan is still a hero to many, although not to me. He was at least partially responsible for the credit fuelled housing bubble by keeping interest rates obscenely low through 2001-2005 and repeatedly bailing out the market with rate cuts. This became known as the 'Greenspan Put.' Whatever your views, he is still closely watched. Now even he is saying temporary nationalisation of America's biggest banks may be necessary. This in the FT.com. We're on the list This isn't necessarily about finance and economics, but it is an interesting collection of inventions. This is the Top 30 Innovations of the last 30 years, as judged by PBS and the Wharton school. Number 1 on the list is the Internet, Number 20 is Social Networking (in which I include blogging), Number 11 is open source software (which we're using to create this blog (Hurrah for WordPress!!). Interestingly, genetically modified plants are number 24. The Americans are not so squeamish on that stuff. Worth a read. Ai Carumba (Spanish for Oh Excrement) Mark Stucklin at Spanish Property Insight reports the 14 biggest property developers in Spain started just 135 properties in the December quarter and none in the month of December. Spain is an economy in freefall that would desperately like its own currency and interest rates. Property prices there fell 20% in the last year. Most of the biggest developers are bankrupt or in administration, although they are still forecasting 150,000 housing starts in 2009. Fat chance. Hat-tips to Matt Nolan at TVHE and Calculated Risk   Slumdog Gazillionaire The amazing success of Slumdog Millionaire has disproved the idea that America's entertainment industry would create a "McWorld", says John Taplin. Interesting and uplifting thoughts on multiculturalism.  The machinations at NAB NAB's 'change agent' Ahmed Fahour has jumped ship to run the 'Rudd Bank'. This was after he lost out to BNZ CEO Cameron Clyne in the battle to succeed John Stewart (not the Daily Show guy...) as CEO of NAB. Clyne shunted him into a special projects type strategy job, which appears to have been a place to park him until he jumped. Fair enough. Stephen Bartholomeuz at Business Spectator has a nice wrap up of the politics at NAB. Made me reaslise I'm glad to be out of a big corporate. The rise of financial nationalism The implications of the nationalisations of the British and American banks are only now being thought about. It will mean the end of multi-national banking and the easy streams of capital and lending between countries. Robert Gottliebsen from Business Spectator has a very interesting thinkpiece on the issue of financial nationalism.

If most of the big global banks are nationalised then we are looking at a totally different world banking environment. There are already plans in Europe for an increase in regulation, including clamps on hedge funds and salaries which means that banking will no longer be a world of excitement filled with imaginative financial products. But widespread nationalisation will take the process even further and it will be back to national or even regional traditional banking. The world capital community will be fundamentally changed and it is highly likely that the nationalised banks will look inward and concentrate on the funding needs of their own countries.

This is ominous for New Zealand because we depend on these international money flows for 40% of our bank funding. More than half of that is due to be rolled over in the next year. Luckily a huge chunk of that funding is from Australia and our banks are Australian owned so we are somewhat protected. But there's still an awful lot that has to be refinanced with US and UK based investors.  Watch for the rumbling in Europe Apparently the Germans are thinking of bailing out the profligate southern Europeans and the Irish through a sort of pan-Euro bond issue. Arch euro-sceptic Ambrose Evans-Pritchard at the Torygraph points out that German voters will get very grumpy because they have never approved the idea of a proper Eurozone where a single authority issues government bonds. Instead Spain, Greece and Ireland issued their own bonds madly in Euros and now have to repay these debts (and can't). Here's a taste.

The vast imbalances that have been allowed to build up under the seductive protection of EMU leave German taxpayers facing bail-out liabilities that exceed the cost of reparations after the First World War, in proportional terms. The political ground has not been prepared for this. EMU was foisted on the German people without a referendum, in the face of deep public scepticism and scathing criticisms by the professoriat. This failure to secure a mandate for such a revolutionary undertaking is coming back to haunt them.

Not so happy Harvard The always excellent Felix Salmon at portfolio.com points out that the massive Harvard University endowment fund is in some deep trouble.

The picture one gets of the Harvard endowment right now is that it's suffering from a major liquidity crunch: it just doesn't have the cash on hand that it needs.

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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