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  • The Law of Unintended Consequences

    Rules have consequences. And sometimes they have unintended consequences. If I told you that the US government was going to give multiple tens of billions of taxpayer dollars to hedge funds and private investors, you would justifiably not be happy. I think the word angry would come to mind. But that is exactly what is happening, as a result of rules that were written for a time and place seemingly long ago and far, far away. Further, we are looking at potentially much larger sums being lost in the bank bailout (can we say hundreds of billions?), a reduced lending capacity at banks and, in general, a worsening of the very problems at the core of the crisis. The good news is that it can be fixed, but the authorities need to get a sense of urgency. As Steve Forbes writes today in the Wall Street Journal, Obama is continuing with the worst of Bush's policies, making the crisis far worse than it should be. It is as if we are giving all 13-year-old kids a 'F' in math because one kid failed....
  • Betting on Financial Armageddon

    My Dad used to tell me there is no accounting for standards when looking at something that seemed odd. Today, we have faulty standards for accounting that are ripping apart the fabric of the world's economy. How can a security that has a high probability of full repayment be downgraded from AA to junk levels? What we will explore today tell us a lot about why we are in the crisis state of affairs. Since I wrote you last Friday, the financial landscape of the world has changed even more. And what will happen this weekend will change it even more. And our kids will be paying for it for a long, long time. At the end I offer a few thoughts on the events, and if there is time my thoughts on the new short covering rules. All in all, it should make for an instructive and interesting letter. We'll jump right in....