US and Global Financial Crisis – Views & Updates

Like most of you, we have been watching the developments for the last few weeks, as MyOrbit spans worldwide with a link into the global markets. This post puts our thoughts and updates for you.

Background:

Financial institutions have been struggling to meet the mandates of bad loans, and the global markets have been showing the effects.

Banks are allowed to lend about 10 times the capital they have on deposit (called CAR: capital adequacy ratio), but multiple banks seem to have not-confirmed to this requirement, and in effect lending much more than their safe limits. Losses on mortgage-related securities have depleted bank capital. Those securities had collapsed with falling home prices, along with increasing defaults and foreclosures.

Now the common annual-deadline-abiding taxpayer of the US will be paying for the lack of accountability by Wall Street Banks, and to an extent the Financial Heads in the US government.

While the US legislation passed a bailout package of $700 bn with good intentions (following great effort by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke)…but the what, when, where, how- are still not clear.

If so much of US tax payer’s money has to be used to rescue poor performing banks…and there’s a reason why they are poor performing …because they gave $500k to $1 million mortagages to almost everyone who asked in 2005-2007 without much due diligence (we heard about NYC road-side pirated DVD sellers getting $500k mortgages!)

And the tax contribution from the people who received those bumper mortagages probably don’t add up more than a few billion dollars, which leaves the majority of common tax payers holding the $700 bn bill….for a lunch they never had!

Initially, the plan was to buy distressed securities of the banks to help clean-up the Balance sheets of the Banks– but that did not sound good. Why should the Govt buy toxic securities which will only cause loss and give nothing much in return?

Updates:

Henry Paulson’s earlier life as an investment banker is now playing a key role in how the bailout solution is shaping up.

Most Republicans and Democrats in the US legislation agree on taking equity stakes in financial institutions, because if government money is going to be used, taxpayers should at least get the chance eventually to profit from the investment.

So the US legislation is now following the approach used by European govts — and will fund the recapitalization. Thankfully, the focus of Paulson’s initial plan — of buying distressed mortgage-related securities to improve banks’ balance sheets and make it easier for them to lend again — is not being shifted to buying equity/holding position in the distressed banks and FIs.

The latest approach of buying equity stake in distressed banks and FIs is a much better option for the taxpayer funds. At least there is an upside if/when some of the distressed banks and FIs do well, the Govt would gain from appreciation of its equity stake. In that sense, the Govt is taking the role of a mega-investment-banker by underwrtiting the securities of these banks and FIs.

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