Press Digest for Wednesday

As the days goes on, a few interesting stories have found their way to my reading list.

  • Story: Try as they might, no one is winning the game of “Whack-a-Mole” as more creatures pop up out of distant holes in China, in London, and now, in Singapore. All the while, German banks remain besieged.
    Reaction: The swamp is still draining…
  • Story: Why banks should stick to market making, as BMO licks its wounds after “bad bets on natural-gas have cut earnings by C$424 million this fiscal year in the biggest trading debacle for a Canadian bank, and the toll may rise as the company unwinds the remaining C$11.5 billion of investments. Toronto-based Bank of Montreal said in a statement today that it has been contacted by law-enforcement authorities and securities regulators in connection with the trading losses.”
    Reaction: Don’t worry. Canadians will pay for this, one ATM transaction fee at a time.
  • Story: As much as I like economists, sometimes they forget about real life. Noted economist Nouriel Roubini said, “There is now a growing realization that the turmoil in financial markets in the last few weeks is not just due to a liquidity crunch but it is more importantly related to serious credit problems: bankrupt and/or distressed homeowners, bankrupt mortgage lenders, distressed homebuilders, some distressed highly leveraged financial institutions and even some over-leveraged parts of the corporate sector.”
    Reaction: I think this is the part where we might find Barry Rithholtz doing his WTF? “No shit, Sherlock” bitch slap. I mean, come on. First came the defaults; then came the meltdown. There should be no chicken and egg debate here.
  • Story: China sold 600 billion yuan ($79 billion) of bonds in the nation’s biggest debt sale to fund a new company that will invest foreign-exchange reserves.
    Reaction: Doesn’t China already hold $405 billion of Treasuries? Isn’t that enough to deploy without borrowing more for investment purposes? Geez. But perhaps there is a dark force at work on our behalf. U.S. firms are eyeing the so-called sovereign wealth funds and sovereign pension funds as the next gravy train, I mean, clients. It will be interesting to see how Wall Street will bury a few trillion dollars.
  • Story: S&P says business conditions are worse now than it was in the second half of 1998 while the Eurozone banks are tight as hell.
    Reaction: Is that fresh smoking rising in thar yonder?