Posted by Larry Doyle on March 25th, 2009 9:46 AM |
Like it or not, Goldman Sachs is widely considered to be the preeminent risk manager in the world. I would never blanketly endorse Goldman Sachs nor every one of their transactions or employees. Anything but. I am sure Goldman, like every institution in every industry, has some bad apples who will and have made some bad, if not outright illegal, moves. If so, the proper regulatory authorities should address, investigate, and if need be prosecute. I am here to write on a different topic. Goldman Sachs does not want Uncle Sam as a business partner. Whether Goldman wanted government money last Fall via the TARP (Troubled Asset Recovery Program) or not, the firm very clearly wants to return those funds soon.
Goldman Sachs is currently working with government officials to return $10 billion in TARP funds by late April. The firm will look to make this return after the U.S. Treasury completes its first round of bank stress tests. Other smaller banking institutions are looking to do the same. (more…)
Posted by Larry Doyle on March 22nd, 2009 12:26 PM |
I am a proud graduate of the College of the Holy Cross, a Jesuit institution in Worcester, MA. The strength of a Jesuit education lies in the principles of Logic and Morality. While I fully appreciated my classes in Economics, German, Philosophy, and others, my classes in Logic and Morality made the greatest impact on me. Those classes forced me to think, not make rash judgments, take positions, and defend them.
Fast forward to 2009 and a banking industry facing hundreds of billions, if not trillions, of unrealized losses. How do we most effectively, efficiently, and expeditiously address the health of this banking system so that our economy and population can regain its footing and prosper? Let me revert back to the late ’70s and early ’80s and the principles instilled in me by those Jesuits.
My Logic class utilized “decision trees.” My Morality class was based on the principle of “the greatest good for the greatest number.”
What have we learned over the last 6 months, as well as the last 16 years, to help us chart our way forward? (more…)
Posted by Larry Doyle on March 20th, 2009 9:02 PM |
The pressure on Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is increasing from within the Democratic Party, across the aisle, and the media. Will Tim be fed to the lions? Well, the standard procedures of implementing change seem to be occurring. What are those steps?
1. A vote of confidence by the Administration. Always a kiss of death!
2. Leak the name of a strong prospective secretary.
Who might that be? JP Morgan Chairman and CEO, Jamie Dimon.
Dimon is enormously well respected in Washington and Wall Street. He can quickly build a team. He has run very large organizations. He has been a longtime Democratic supporter and publicly promoted President Obama and his plans.
I find it interesting that Dimon’s name was bandied about last October as a prospective leader of Treasury. Market Watch highlighted this fact in reporting The Next Treasury Secretary Is…
As the firestorm over the prospective legislation to restrict Wall Street bonuses grows, do not be surprised to see Dimon ride in on the white horse to broker peace between Washington, the financial community, and the public at large.
Posted by Larry Doyle on March 20th, 2009 3:12 PM |
I questioned a Wall Street friend of mine this morning whether Washington in general and the Obama administration and Democratic Congress specifically could be so myopic or actually are so calculating in attempting to enact legislation that would impose tax rates of 70-90% on certain Wall Street employees. My friend quickly responded that the Washington crowd is not that smart.
Make no mistake, the proposed legislation of taxing certain Wall Street employees at 70-90% rates is targeted at addressing public outrage over improperly allocated compensation. However, Washington is utilizing a bazooka when in fact they need a laser.
In so doing, the politicians pushing this legislation are showing themselves to be misinformed and misaligned in understanding the basic tenets of capitalism and free market principles. (more…)
Posted by Larry Doyle on March 16th, 2009 4:17 PM |
A loyal reader shared with me a recent posting from former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich. Earlier today I cross posted a piece from No Quarter in which Reich was less than complimentary of Secretary Geithner. Well, let’s see what Mr. Reich has to say about President Obama’s economic program: Is Obamanomics Conservative or Revolutionary?
Prior to delving into my thoughts and commentary on Reich (or anybody), I always find it useful to consider the perspective of the writer. In regard to Mr. Reich, let us not forget that Robert Reich Excludes White Male Construction Workers from Obama Stimulus Plan. Utilizing that perspective, Mr. Reich would be considered to be more than slightly left of center. Additionally, in considering the Obama economic plans, I think it is critically important to incorporate the economic plans and agenda of the Democrats in Congress. These Congressional leaders have a major influence in this process. These Democrats, including David Obey (D-WI), Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Harry Reid (D-NV), Barney Frank (D-MA), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Chris Dodd (D-CT), and Steny Hoyer (D-MD) amongst others are major players in the stimulus, budget, and Omnibus bill that have come down from Congress. It is not totally clear where the lines are drawn between the White House and Congress on all the economic issues. That said, let’s see what Mr. Reich has to say and then critique his assessments of Obamanomics. (more…)
Posted by Larry Doyle on March 9th, 2009 3:35 PM |
A great American and loyal reader (thanks FL) shared a report recently produced by not-for-profits Essential Information and The Consumer Education Foundation. This report, Sold Out: How Wall Street and Washington Betrayed America, has gotten little to no attention in the general media. What a shame. I find of particular interest the fact that a number of the currently discussed regulatory changes are directly addressing the points highlighted in this report. I personally view these proposed regulatory changes as substantiating this report and adding credibility to its effort. For the naysayers in the audience, I would ask you to review the report and reconsider your assessment.
I was struck a month ago by the incriminating statements put forth by Senator Chuck Hagel and CIA head Leon Panetta, which I highlighted on February 16th in Legalized Bribery. Those statements bluntly indict our massive system of lobbying, political fundraising, and the quality of those running for elected office! In light of that article, I am more and more convinced that our elected officials have turned their offices into massive for profit machines at the expense of our public well being.
I commend the authors of this report, Roger Weissman and James Donahue, for taking the time and making the extensive effort to expose the truth. The full report, 231 pages in length, spares no detail. In studying it, I found the information and analysis riveting. Let me try to summarize it for you. (more…)
Posted by Larry Doyle on February 28th, 2009 10:13 AM |
Posted by Larry Doyle on February 26th, 2009 2:01 PM |
Economic and budgetary analysis by their very nature often employ a “ceteris paribus” approach or similarly base line assumptions. Ceteris paribus, translated as “all other things being equal,” or base line assumptions are necessary given the fact that economic analysis has so many variables. Well, let me share with you that ceteris are NEVER paribus and base line assumptions are almost always skewed to bias the results in a desired direction.
***UPDATE: I was not aware at the time of my writing but it is reported that the Obama administration is projecting the economy will grow at a 3.2% GDP in 2010. That assumption is wildly optimistic. No respected economist would project that figure. Consensus has it in the 1.5-2% range. What does this mean? Well, lower growth means lower revenues, means higher deficits, means greater funding needs, means more borrowing, means higher government interest rates, means more “crowding out”, means slower growth for the economy going forward!!
There was little doubt about President Obama’s social agenda and economic platform during his campaign. While markets will somewhat discount campaign rhetoric, they do not discount economic reality. The markets are sending a strong signal that Obama’s economic proposals and proposed budget are anything but pro-growth. Obama Delivers $3.6 Trillion Budget Blueprint runs the risk of raising taxes at a time of economic distress. Raising taxes was a prime factor that increased the economic malaise in the 1930s. Obama is willing to take that risk as he sticks to his campaign plan and is pressured by the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. (more…)
Posted by Larry Doyle on February 18th, 2009 11:07 AM |
It is often difficult, if not near impossible, for an individual, company, institution, or even a government to provide a measured, honest, and unbiased perspective of a difficult situation. Given one’s proximity and emotional attachment to the situation, human nature clouds one’s viewpoint and, in turn, one’s reactions and responses.
How great it is when we can receive the sage wisdom of a neighbor, a retired executive, a former coach, or on the international level a true statesman. While we may find it difficult to hear and deal with a tough message, ultimately the greatest form of “tough love” is simple truth and honesty.
A good friend of mine was gracious enough to share some video clips of a recent interview with Paul Keating, former Prime Minister and Treasurer of Australia. Mr. Keating speaks from experience and does not sugar coat the current economic turmoil. While the three video clips (listed below) run approximately 20 minutes in total length, please allow me to provide a bullet point overview of some of the highlights. When you do have some spare time, I strongly encourage you to view these clips and gain the benefits of his wisdom. I do not think you will be disappointed, although you may be a bit dismayed as to his blunt honesty. In the meantime, here’s a brief overview: (more…)
Posted by Larry Doyle on February 7th, 2009 4:40 PM |
The American populace knows that the primary architects in the formulation of the Stimulus Plan working its way through Congress are Rahm Emanuel, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid. This contingent, along with President Obama, have not been bashful in stating they view the November election results as effectively a mandate to change policies emanating from Washington. Against that backdrop, the initially proposed Stimulus Plan was so loaded with pork that the Republicans and the American population at large slammed it as more a promotion of the Democratic agenda than a true stimulus plan.
I will give President Obama credit for formulating a Panel to Advise Obama on Economy. This panel will be known as the White House Economic Recovery Advisory Board. The Board will be headed by former Fed chair Paul Volcker. He will be joined by Jeff Immelt of GE, James Owens of Caterpillar, William Donaldson, former SEC chair, Roger Ferguson Jr. of TIAA-CREF, Richard Trumka of AFL-CIO, Anna Burger of SEIU, and Martin Feldstein, renowned Harvard economist. The group will be guided by Austan Goolsbee, an economic adviser to the White House.
Do you think President Obama and his economic team would listen to Mr. Feldstein or is that a “mere courtesy” having him on the board. Let’s review what Mr. Feldstein said about the Stimulus Plan just last week.