Tired of waiting for IMF and World Bank recognition of its financial muscle, China stepped aside to lead the creation of an Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) inviting the rest of BRIC to join as cofounders. Unexpectedly, there's been a bit of a global stampede to get in an application as founding member. Here's a helpful infographic. And here are some widely divergent points of view pontificating on the geopolitics of finance.
The End of Banking: Money, Credit, and the Digital Revolution - "Unregulated banking with access to government guarantees is an enticing business model. It offers the profits of excessive risk-taking in good times, and allows passing on the inevitable losses to taxpayers in bad times." [more inside]
Banks usually reserve the right to change the rules or rates for credit cards they issue at any time, and the only notice given is buried in a long legal document. Russian Dmitry Argarkov turned this on its head: After he received a junk-mail credit card offer, he modified the document to include terms ridiculously in his favor and sent it back. The bank signed and certified it without looking at it, and sent him a credit card. [more inside]
Wall Street begins playing again with the same matches that burned the economy in 2008 From the New York Times: "The banks that created risky amalgams of mortgages and loans during the boom — the kind that went so wrong during the bust — are busily reviving the same types of investments that many thought were gone for good. Once more, arcane-sounding financial products like collateralized debt obligations are being minted on Wall Street. " (View article on a single page) [more inside]
"Of the top 100 Swiss companies, 49 give shareholders a consulting vote on the pay of executives. A few other countries, including the United States and Germany, have introduced advisory "say on pay" votes in response to the anger over inequality and corporate excess that drove the Occupy Wall Street movement. Britain is also planning to implement rules in late 2013 that will give shareholders a binding vote on pay and "exit payments" at least every three years. Minder's initiative goes further, forcing all listed companies to have binding votes on compensation for company managers and directors, and ban golden handshakes and parachutes. It would also ban bonus payments to managers if their companies are taken over, and impose severe penalties — including possible jail sentences and fines — for breaches of these new rules."
"We decided to go on an adventure through the financial statements of one bank [Wells Fargo], to explore exactly what they do and do not show, and to gauge whether it is possible to make informed judgments about the risks the bank may be carrying. We chose a bank that is thought to be a conservative financial institution, and an exemplar of what a large modern bank should be."
What's Going On In Japan? "Really Japan is quite a remarkable case, since neither fiscal nor monetary policy seems to be working to achieve the anticipated results. This year Japan will have a fiscal deficit of around 10% of GDP and gross government debt will hit 235% of GDP, yet the country is still struggling to find growth. Instead of reiterating old dogmas (whether they come from Keynes or from Hayek) more people should be asking themselves what is happening here. This is not a simple repetition of something which was first time tragedy and is now second time tragedy, it is something new, and could well be a harbinger for more that is to come, elsewhere. Oh, why oh why are economists not more curious?" [more inside]
Mother Jones: The 10 'Occupy' candidates vying for seats in the US House Of Representatives and Senate and their prospects.
Economics blog VoxEU debates Why do we need a financial sector? Serious, important and very dull articles discuss the trade-offs and myths of innovation, and whether the sector is overrated, critical or a contributor to the wider economy.
Chext is a site that enables the user to enter transactions and track their bank balance via SMS. People sharing a bank account can also get updates when money is spent from the account by the other person. [more inside]
Interview with Gary Gorton (pdf) - Fascinating look at private institutional bank money creation (really) and subsequent run on the shadow banking system that hearkens back to the late-19th century banking crises with securitization playing the role of checking before the advent of deposit insurance. "Gorton is a lucid narrator of a complex tale." (via via)
The Irish Banking Crisis: A Parable - What happened when the Irish stood up to the bankers in the 1970s? cf. Why Wall Street won't get shrunk & The Inequality That Matters [more inside]
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. In a few hours, I will destroy the Greek economy. Unless, that is, you give me the sum of...one trillion dollars! (SLNYT, but with this much money I can afford to look frumpy)
A blow-by-blow analysis of Wachovia's demise, as told by the bank's local paper, The Charlotte Observer.
Bringing Down Bear Stearns, from Vanity Fair's August issue.
Worse Than the World Bank? Export Credit Agencies--The Secret Engine of Globalization The amount of investment that export credit agencies (ECA) support worldwide is significantly greater than the total amount of lending from the World Bank, IMF and all other multilateral institutions combined. ECA's account for the single biggest component of developing country debt and half of all new greenhouse gas-emitting industrial projects in developing countries have some sort of ECA support. Investments in places like Guatemala, South Africa, Pakistan, Chile [PDF], have had unacceptable social, environmental and economic consequences. Administered or backed by a government, an ECA uses taxpayer money to make it cheaper and less risky for domestic corporations to export or invest overseas. ECAs privatize the profit and socialize the risk while negatively impacting indigenous cultures and enironments, all with little or no governmental oversight or public awareness of the matter. So what can we do about it? [PDF]