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.
BBC News asks independent trader Alessio Rastani "what would keep investors happy, make them feel more confident?" and gets a surprisingly honest answer: "Personally, it doesn't matter. See, I'm a trader. I don't really care about that kind of stuff. If I see an opportunity to make money, I go with that. So, for most traders, we don't really care that much about how they're going to fix the economy, about how they're going to fix the whole situation; our job is to make money from it. And, personally, I've been dreaming of this moment for three years. I have a confession which is I go to bed every night and dream of another recession, I dream of another moment like this." [SLYT]
"It is this failure of political will both in the EU and US which is starting to make the contemporary economic scene resemble that of the 1930s. " The Eurozone and the US are heading into a bad economic decade, argues John Lanchester (wiki). [more inside]
Roubini warns of global recession risk. In a video interview with the Wall Street Journal, Economist Nouriel Roubini of Roubini Global Economics warns that the risk of a global recession is higher than 50%, suggests investing in cash, blames George Bush for the United States' economic predicament, advocates higher taxes, warns of a possible break-up of the European monetary union and states that "Karl Marx was right". [more inside]
In an investment manager's view on the top 1% - referring to the richest Americans by wealth and income - we learn that one needs $1.2 million in net worth to barely slip in the door of the top 1%. But that's just a start: the real power and influence in the U.S., the author argues, resides in the top 0.1%. You can guess who you'll find there: bankers and large-cap CEOs. Relevant quotes include... [more inside]
Standard & Poor’s changed the UK's credit outlook from stable to negative a few days ago, and warned that there is a chance the UK could lose its AAA rating. Meanwhile, Moodys, another of the big 3 rating agencies, has warned that the US might also eventually lose its AAA rating. The UK announcement caused sterling to drop by 1% and the FTSE by 2%. However, many blame the same rating agencies for their part in triggering the subprime crisis. The irony of this is not lost on the Wall Street Journal, who note that "After all, those governments are jacking up spending, in part, to bail out the financial firms who gobbled up those 'AAA' asset backed securities duly blessed by the credit ratings firms." [more inside]
They are known as “quants” because they do quantitative finance. Seduced by a vision of mathematical elegance underlying some of the messiest of human activities, they apply skills they once hoped to use to untangle string theory or the nervous system to making money. "They Tried to Outsmart Wall Street." [spoiler inside] [more inside]
"Iceland is no longer a country. It is a hedge fund." Also: exploding Range Rovers and the environmental impacts on elves. (Pre-vi-ous-ly.)
The Dalai Lama blames the financial crisis on a decline in spirituality. Hindus blame it on greed. Saudi Grand Mufti, Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh, blames the crisis on ignoring God's rules. Jewish scholars say we could have avoided a crisis by following Talmudic traditions. Pope Benedict sees the global financial system as "self-centred, short-sighted and lacking in concern for the destitute." Is it right to pray for the economy? (a Christian perspective). A Malaysian conference brings together Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Taoists, and Sikhs to discuss the crisis.
Another economic post. With the debt and equity markets in a comparative calm, a lot of people are asking what next? One area little examined is the idea of sovereign risk. Basically, those with the armies make to rules, and you don't want to be invested there when they change the rules,. The USA has been the power behind globalisation for over half a century, enforcing the rules of the marketplace we have grown to accept. Some are questioning whether it can maintain this position. [more inside]
On Tuesday, the Federal Reserve cut interest rates by 0.5%. Wall Street aggressively demanded the cut to stop the sub-prime mortgage contagion from triggering a credit crisis among large US and foreign investment banks and the collapse of their over-leveraged hedge funds, which ultimately threatened to drag the US economy into recession. The market rallied this week in response to the Fed's move. But there is no free lunch. [more inside]