Bank of England
Mervyn King is leaving the Bank of England in a couple of months, and he’s got nothing to lose. So he’s spitting in George Osborne’s eye, blaming RBS for bollocking up the British economy and calling for a Solomonic solution to the problem. Read more »
When your economy has ground to a standstill and stayed there for a period of years, it would make sense to cast about for a new central banker whose approach was somewhat different. And by different we mean more successful. Read more »
Aaahhh I love the Bank of England’s latest Financial Stability Report. I mean: I haven’t read it, per se. But it follows the wonderful official-sector-report layout of blandly apocalyptic text running down the right side and lovely charts running down the left, so you can close one eye and it’s a delight. The charts are a nice mix of (1) visually displaying quantitative information and (2) not:
The gist of the report is, as the Journal puts it:
U.K. banks may be misleading investors over the true state of their financial health, the Bank of England said Thursday, in its starkest warning yet to banks to restore investor confidence and get credit flowing.
“One factor which may make stated levels of capital misleading is under-recognition of expected future losses on loans,” the committee said in the BOE’s twice-yearly Financial Stability Report.Banks may be further overstating their health by making “aggressive” use of risk weights used to determine how much capital different categories of loan require, officials added.
And here’s the bottom-line recommendation: Read more »
Ben Bernanke gave another Augustinian give-us-QEn-but-not-yet* speech at Jackson Hole today and you could go read it but honestly why would you, you know what it says, which is “everything is bad, but not as bad as it could be, and we want to make it a bit better, but only once it’s gotten a bit worse.” Moving right along.
To Andrew Haldane’s speech, which is a treat! It is here and its title is “The dog and the frisbee,” so obviously he had Dealbreaker on his side right there. Haldane, the Bank of England’s financial-stability guy, basically argues that while the financial system is complex, it should be regulated simply – “As you do not fight fire with fire, you do not fight complexity with complexity” – just as a dog uses only elementary trigonometry and differential calculus to solve the complex and multivariate problem of catching a frisbee.**
Haldane’s main example of overcomplexity in regulation is risk-based capital regulation, in which the Basel accords have moved from simple leverage tests – common equity divided by total assets – to complicated tests where the numerator is made up of different tiers of capital and the denominator uses risk-weights that are largely driven by the bank’s own models of riskiness. One thing you could do is compare the performance of those measures in the recent crisis, so he did. Here is how Basel risk-based capital did:
That looks bad and also is bad, with no statistically significant difference between banks that blew up and banks that did not. This is just boring leverage: Read more »
Post LiborGate, Area Investment Advisor Doesn’t Think He’s Being Extreme In Suggesting We Relaunch The Revolutionary WarBy Bess Levin
As long ago as June 2008, New York Federal Reserve President Timothy F. Geithner was warning the Bank of England that letting bankers set the benchmark interest rate for global finance was open to abuse. Governor Mervyn King’s failure then to take greater responsibility for Libor now poses a new threat to London’s drive to rival New York in the battle for a larger share of a shrinking international financial industry. “As a company, we now avoid London,” said David Kotok, who manages about $2 billion as chief investment officer at Cumberland Advisors Inc. in Sarasota, Florida. “It’s tarnished. Passing the buck to others, shirking responsibility and avoiding accountability characterizes the people at work there.” [Bloomberg via Heidi Moore]
When You’ve Got A Global Financial Crisis To Worry About, A Few Trillion Dollars Of Fraud Don’t Seem Like That Big A DealBy Matt Levine
The Libor scandal presents a whole range of questions from the very micro “how much did I lose on my mortgage”* through the micro yet fantastically large “what kind of total damages are floating around in lawsuits” past the pseudo-philosophical “how can I ever trust the financial system again”** all the way up to the metaphysical “what is a price?” Somewhere in the middle realm there is a good set of questions of “what did regulators know and when did they know it and what did they do and why didn’t they do it?” The Times and Reuters get to those questions today and they’re unsurprisingly awkward.
The awkwardness starts with word choice. The verb “fix” is in market usage a bit of a contranym, in that “fixing” something, when that something is a price, can either solve or create a problem with it. No doubt the Fed regrets this meeting title:
In early 2008, questions about whether Libor reflected banks’ true borrowing costs became more public. The Bank for International Settlements published a paper raising the issue in March of that year, and an April 16 story in the Wall Street Journal cast doubts on whether banks were reporting accurate rates. Barclays said it met with Fed officials twice in March-April 2008 to discuss Libor.
According to the calendar of then New York Fed President, Timothy Geithner, who is now U.S. Treasury Secretary, it even held a “Fixing LIBOR” meeting between 2:30-3:00 pm on April 28, 2008. At least eight senior Fed staffers were invited.