Coming to terms with the global financial crisis…

Is there an exit strategy? A year into the global financial crisis, several key central banks remain extraordinarily exposed to their countries’ shaky private financial sectors. So far, the strategy of maintaining banking systems on feeding tubes of taxpayer-guaranteed short-term credit has made sense. But eventually central banks must pull the plug. Otherwise they will end up in intensive care themselves as credit losses overwhelm their balance sheets. — The Guardian

Weekend at Henry’s. In the 1989 movie “Weekend at Bernie’s,” a pair of young executives create the illusion that their dead boss is still alive to keep a party going. That’s not too far from the premise of this weekend’s Treasury bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage giants that have become financial zombies. — Wall Street Journal

How Wall Street lied to its computers. Most Wall Street computer models radically underestimated the risk of the complex mortgage securities… That is partly because the level of financial distress is “the equivalent of the 100-year flood,” in the words of Leslie Rahl, the president of Capital Market Risk Advisors, a consulting firm. But she and others say there is more to it: The people who ran the financial firms chose to program their risk-management systems with overly optimistic assumptions and to feed them oversimplified data. This kept them from sounding the alarm early enough. — New York Times blog

When sharemarkets and the real world collide.  With words like crisis, panic and financial contagion bombarding us via newspapers, websites and nightly news broadcasts it is no surprise that consumer and investor confidence has taken a battering. For the first time in 20 years bank term deposits top the rankings in consumer surveys as the wisest place to invest. So a critical issue is whether you believe the financial market gyrations are a portent of bad things to come in the real world economy or that over time as confidence returns in company earnings that the sharemarket will return to realistic valuations based on the long-term growth in both our economy and the global economy. — Eureka Street

Apologies to anyone who was hanging out for the Fabulous Friday trashwrap – it will be back next week in all its tawdry glory.

 

Peter Fray

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