Category Archives: Finance
15/5/15: New Financial Regulation: Part 8: An Overconfidence Bias Awaits
My latest blog post on European Union innovations in financial regulation, continuing coverage of the European Banking Union is now available here: http://blog.learnsignal.com/?p=181
8/5/15: BIS on Build Up of Financial Imbalances
There is a scary, fully frightening presentation out there. Titled "The international monetary and financial system: Its Achilles heel and what to do about it" and authored by Claudio Borio of the Bank for International Settlements, it was delivered at the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) “2015 Annual Conference: Liberté, Égalité, Fragilité” Paris, on 8-11 April 2015.
Per Borio, the Achilles heel of the global economy is the fact that international monetary and financial system (IMFS) "amplifies weakness of domestic monetary and financial regimes" via:
- "Excess (financial) elasticity”: inability to prevent the build-up of financial imbalances (FIs)
- FIs= unsustainable credit and asset price booms that overstretch balance sheets leading to serious financial crises and macroeconomic dislocations
- Failure to tame the procyclicality of the financial system
- Failure to tame the financial cycle (FC)
The manifestations of this are:
- Simultaneous build-up of FIs across countries, often financed across borders... watch out below - this is still happening... and
- Overly accommodative aggregate monetary conditions for global economy. Easing bias: expansionary in short term, contractionary longer-term. Now, what can possibly suggest that this might be the case today... other than all the massive QE programmes and unconventional 'lending' supports deployed everywhere with abandon...
So Borio's view (and I agree with him 100%) is that policymakers' "focus should be more on FIs than current account imbalances". Problem is, European policymakers and analysts have a strong penchant for ignoring the former and focusing exclusively on the latter.
Wonder why Borio is right? Because real imbalances (actual recessions) are much shallower than financial crises. And the latter are getting worse. Here's the US evidence:
Note: Bank loans include cross-border and locally extended loans to non-banks outside the United States.
Get the point? Take 2008 crisis peak when USD swap lines were feeding all foreign banks operations in the U.S. and USD credit was around USD6 trillion. Since 'repairs' were completed across the European and other Western banking and financial systems, the pile of debt denominated in the USD has… increased. By mid-2014 it reached above USD9 trillion. That is 50% growth in under 6 years.
However, the above is USD stuff... the Really Really Scary Chart should up the ante on the one above and show the same happening broader, outside just the USD loans.
So behold the real Dracula popping his head from the darkness of the Monetary Stability graveyards:
Yep. Now we have it: debt (already in an overhang) is rising, systemically, unhindered, as cost of debt falls. Like a drug addict faced with a flood of cheap crack on the market, the global economy continues to go back to the needle. Over and over and over again.
Anyone up for a reversal of the yields? Jump straight to the first chart… and hold onto your seats, for the next upswing in the blue line is already well underway. And this time it will be again different... to the upside...
7/5/15: Hedgies v Buffett Debate: It’s Superficial on Both Ends
A heated, if perhaps somewhat esoteric debate has been launched by Dan Loeb of the Third Point hedge fund and Warren Buffett. The debate as to whether or not hedge funds are capable of outperforming the market and whether or not Warren Buffett is a hypocrite.
You can read on this here: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-05-07/dan-loeb-slams-buffett-being-habitual-hypocrite
But what you won't read in the post above is that the debate is superficial at best. The problem is:
- Warren Buffett's investment style… setting aside his claims about it being Grahamian (aka fundamentals-driven)… is very much hedge fund-like. To see this read my post about what defines Buffett's exceptional returns here: http://trueeconomics.blogspot.ie/2014/10/28102014-buffetts-magic-cheap-leverage.html. Like a hedgie, he takes leverage. Like a hedgie (in very broad sense) he takes activist positions, often outside or beyond the secondary markets and in alternative asset classes, such as PE as well as across undefined time horizons; and like a hedgie, he has 'black box' management style; but unlike a hedgie, he has access to cheap, very cheap funding that is insensitive to time horizon of investments he takes. Finally, like a hedgie of the old, he manages risk well.
- And the concept of a hedge fund return is, shall we say… too complex to be useful for Buffett's bet/comparative. To see this, follow the thread of links from this, back, across four posts on the topic: http://trueeconomics.blogspot.ie/2015/03/hedge-funds-returns-part-4-to-higher.html