Sunday, January 31, 2010

This is not progress: Move Your Politician’s Money?

 From The Baseline Scenario:

what happens when the location of political candidates'own money starts to matter. As early as this fall's primaries, expect to hear people ask politicians in debates and through various kinds of interactions: (1) where do you, personally, keep and borrow money, and (2), in all relevant cases, where did you put public money when it was up to you?

Make them put the money where their mouth is? Seems plausible for demand deposits, notes and revolvers; however, who you gonna call when you need to place $3B of callable notes in the muni mkt? Hopefully not your friendly neighborhood credit union. Investment Banking: somebody gotta do it.

Don't government agencies have to use the service provider of least-cost that meets all of the stated deliverables? What happens when Mayor Joe Corrupto decides to do all the town banking through the local Bank that his biggest campaign donor is heading?

Don't get me wrong, I think the idea makes a tiny bit of sense. But only if local banks can provide the same or better service for equal or lesser cost than TBTF banks. Any other way is just begging for favoritism and corruption.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Chinese Money Supply

When China announced on January 12, 2010 that they were going to raise reserve requirements by 50 basis points everyone broke out in a panic about it. People speculated there would be crashes, that that there was a crazy China bubble or that the Chinese banks were driving asset-price bubbles through insane leverage. While the Chines Money Supply has indeed been growing faster than before as of late, that makes sense. Last year assets were depressed, leaving room for upside, and credit was hard to get. The Chinese central bank dropped reserve requirements by 50 basis points, which encouraged lending. As things settled down people resumed lending and borrowing. Nothing really crazy is going on. If you are part of the Minsky club, like I am, you consider a significant credit boom an essential part of a bubble. So, let's see if there really is some crazy Chinese bubble or if the Central Bank was just returning things to normal.
Please also note how high their reserves are. American banks keep only 10% of reserves on their transaction deposits (checking accounts). Savings accounts, and CDs are time deposits and have no mandated reserve requirement. Do your homework people. It's not that hard.
People's Bank of China
Reserve Requirements (NY Fed)