Friday, March 21, 2008

Rumours and innuendo

Last week the word was put out about the state of a major bank with the intention of impacting its share price. Yet one week on there has been no announcement of any investigation into improper conduct by those spreading the rumours.

The bank I'm referring to isn't HBOS or Anglo-Irish Bank, it is Bear Stearns. Bear Stearns was telling everyone who would listen that it was fine, just dandy, nothing at all to see here and there was no reason for anyone to worry their silly little heads about when it came to its ability to continue to do business in the future. Yet in the matter of a few days, it has been subsumed in JP Morgan Chase. So I guess the lesson is when the institution itself tells fibs that's ok, if someone else does it that is wrong.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke - RIP

One of the giants of science fiction has passed on. His writing was always somewhat dry in my view and to be honest he didn't really do characters but God some of the ideas. Harks back to when the bulk of science fiction came from the pens of actually science grounded people, like scientists and engineers, like Asimov, Heinlein and Clarke . I think his short stories are today somewhat under appreciated though that is where 2001 came from.

While his idea or promote of geo stationary satellites will doubtless get lots of attention over the coming days I think the his use of the idea of the space elevator may end up being the more significant in terms of the exploration of space by humans.

Unemployed black man or employed white graduate - who is to blame for the credit crunch?

The two Johns have tackled the issue of the sub prime market already (see the clip below) but I believe the real problem isn't the unemployed black man in a vest sitting outside a house he can no longer afford, it's the college educated white 20 and 30 somethings who is up to their eyes in credit card and college loan debt.

At the heart of the credit problem is a significant percentage of people mostly white college educated folks who had large sums of money made available to them which they gladly borrowed and spent it on pure frippery, and of course spring break! Average credit debt in the US for those graduates in the 20s is nearly $6,000. And that is just credit card debt, most US graduates have college loans into the 10s of thousands. Now the solution being offered by the Fed is yet more cheap credit which will lead to more spending on frippery (most of it coming from Asian economies rather than the US).

Is there some hope that those being lent to would act to re-finance their credit card debt into loans and take the time to pay down their debts? The problem is that the servicing of the credit card debt is much more profitable to the banks and they are disinclined to alter the terms to medium term loans. This is the time to turn into the tidal wave of financial mismanagement but I suspect most will take the short term option and just spend again.

The Jack Russell - champion sheep worrier

So the topic of worrying sheep came up recently and the theory was put forward that Jack Russell's being a more intelligent breed of beast have their own style of worrying the wooliers. Apparently, they sidle up to the fuzzy ones under cover of dark and start telling them that inflation is up again, that the stock market is screwed and that the building industry is laying folks off left right and centre. That has them worried in no time at all.