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Showing posts from February, 2009

Half of bankers would quit UK if bonuses capped: poll

LONDON (Reuters) - Half of British bankers would consider leaving the country if a cap were put on their cash bonuses, a survey showed on Friday.

The poll by jobs website eFinancialCareers.com found that 49 percent of British-based bankers would consider voting with their feet such a limit to their income were introduced. That figure rose to 71 percent among financiers with six to ten years experience.

"Were bonuses to be capped unilaterally in the UK, the country would run the risk of an exodus of top financial talent," said John Benson, chief executive of eFinancialCareers.

However, the number of alternative locations in which to work has shrunk dramatically as the credit crisis has hit hiring and pay around the world.

"(That) 71 percent (of people with six to 10 years experience) would move abroad I don't doubt, given the opportunity. That last word is the operative word," said Shaun Springer, who heads recruitment firm Napier Scott.

"If you could tell me of…

More pain to come for Big 3 banks

Net interest income will not race ahead: Analysts
By Gabriel Chen

ANYONE holding bank shares would have been jittery these past months, and with the three big guns having reported their fourth-quarter results it is clear investors had good reason to be nervous. DBS Group Holdings, OCBC Bank and United Overseas Bank all posted net earnings that fell below market expectations.

UOB was the last to report, announcing yesterday that profit for the three months to Dec 31, 2008, had fallen 34 per cent to $332 million.

Its two rivals did not fare much better.

DBS saw a 40 per cent drop in quarterly profit to $295 million, its worst result in three years. The fall was 30 per cent at OCBC, with profits at $301 million.

Much of their weakness was down to steep falls in the cash-generating, non-interest-based portion of earnings, like trading and capital-market activities.

The three banks also made sharply higher bad debt provisions, which took the shine off their earnings.

While net interest income (NII…

Are You Taking Too Much (or Too Little) Risk?

by Christine Benz

Assessing a client's risk tolerance--an individual's own assessment of his or her ability to withstand investment losses--is standard practice in the financial-planning world. The Web is full of tools to help investors gauge how they would respond if the market dropped 10%, 20%, or even 50%, and I often hear from readers who tell me that their risk tolerance is "high" or "low."

The basic premise behind getting investors to identify their pain thresholds makes sense. After all, reams of data, including Morningstar Investor Returns, show that investors often buy high and sell low. By identifying their ability to handle losses and avoiding those investments that will cause them to sell at the wrong time, investors should be able to improve their overall return records.

Yet relying disproportionately on your risk tolerance to shape your investments carries its own big risk: namely, that you'll end up with a portfolio that doesn't help you…

You've Sold Your Stocks. Now What?

provided by
The New York Times

Back in the summer of 2007, Ben Mickus, a New York architect, had a bad feeling. He and his wife, Taryn, had invested in the stock market and had done well, but now that they had reached their goal of about $200,000 for a down payment on a house, Mr. Mickus was unsettled. “Things had been very erratic, and there had been a lot of press about the market becoming more chaotic,” he said.

In October of that year they sat down for a serious talk. Ms. Mickus had once lost a lot of money in the tech bubble, and the prospect of losing their down payment made Mr. Mickus nervous. “I wanted to pull everything out then; Taryn wanted to keep it all in,” he said. They compromised, cashing in 60 percent of their stocks that fall — just before the Dow began its slide.

A couple of months later, with the market still falling, Ms. Mickus was convinced that her husband was right, and they sold the remainder of their stocks. Their down payment was almost completely preserved. Ms…

Brace for 'recession crimes'

SINGAPORE courts are preparing to cope with more criminal and civil cases during this downturn.

In 1999 and 2002, when the country was battling recessions, the courts' workload hit record levels.

Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong expects the numbers to spike again. 'Recession brings many social and other difficulties and problems for people in their daily lives,' he noted yesterday, as he rolled out the workplan for the Subordinate Courts at a seminar.

'We must therefore brace ourselves again for an expected influx of cases this year and while the recession lasts.'

Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng had warned last month about a possible rise in crimes such as theft, vice and loan-sharking; separately, Police Commissioner Khoo Boon Hui expressed worry about white-collar crime.

Senior Counsel Cavinder Bull said he has already noticed a 'very significant increase' in cases on the civil front, in the form of companies landing in court for winding-up proceedings and in…

Europe's Crisis: Much Bigger Than Subprime, Worse Than U.S.

John Mauldin, president of Millennium Wave Advisors, was among the few analysts whose forecasts for 2008 proved accurate. Mauldin, author of the popular "Thoughts from the Frontline" e-letter, joined us to discuss the economic situation in Eastern Europe.

Scroll down to read highlights from Mauldin's analysis, and click "more" to embed the video.

From The Business Insider:

If you think things are bad here, take a quick peek at what's going on across the pond:

The Telegraph: Stephen Jen, currency chief at Morgan Stanley, said Eastern Europe has borrowed $1.7 trillion abroad, much on short-term maturities. It must repay – or roll over – $400bn this year, equal to a third of the region's GDP. Good luck. The credit window has slammed shut.

Not even Russia can easily cover the $500bn dollar debts of its oligarchs while oil remains near $33 a barrel. The budget is based on Urals crude at $95. Russia has bled 36pc of its foreign reserves since August defending the …

Banks discuss tough times in recruitment

Simon Mortlock

Security and stability are replacing pay and bonuses as the key career factors for bankers, according to a seven-strong panel of senior HR professionals from leading global banks in Hong Kong.

Delegates on the recent roundtable, which was organised by eFinancialCareers, agreed that uncertainly about the future prospects of financial institutions is prompting interviewees to probe more deeply into firms’ strengths and strategies.

One panelist commented: “Junior candidates are especially scared of being last in, first out. They want to join a prudently run organisation. The monetary aspects of a job are less important than getting some degree of security.”

Flexibility to the fore

If HK bankers are becoming less money-obsessed, many of them are also getting more flexible with their careers. Since the financial crisis escalated in October last year, some banks have relocated a few front-office staff into mid-office positions rather than make them redundant. “We try to ensur…

Commentary by Kathy Lien: Dollar Rallies Despite Bernanke's Pessimistic Comments and Weak US Data

The US dollar continues to rally against the Japanese Yen (USD/JPY) despite pessimistic comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and weaker US economic data. The bleaker outlook for the US economy is sending investors flocking into the safety of US dollars. In his prepared comments, Bernanke warned that a recovery could take more than 2 to 3 years. A turnaround in 2010 is only possible if the the markets and banks stabilize. This is why Bernanke has been a big supporter of focusing relief efforts on the financial sector. He believes that there are still significant stresses in many markets and a sharp contraction in economic activity is expected in the first quarter. Therefore US interest rates will remain at an exceptionally low level for some time. His pessimistic sentiment was shared by US consumers. According to the Conference Board's report, consumer confidence hit a record low in the month of February. In addition, house prices and manufacturing activity hav…

5 Childhood Lies That Are Costing You Money

Mom and Dad were right a lot of the time: Scratching only makes it worse; high school's not the end of the world; and that style (whatever "that style" was in your day) isn't flattering, even if all the popular girls are wearing it.

But they got a few things wrong, too -- your face didn't stick permanently in that expression, and your eyebrows did grow back. Eventually.

Still, some false kernels of wisdom passed down the family tree could be stunting your financial growth to this day. So settle in for some regression therapy, as we identify the little white lies from your tender years that you need to relinquish.

"Don't cry at the checkout counter." Actually, go ahead and unleash the tears. When you let yourself feel the physical loss of spending money (actually taking cash from your wallet and handing it over to the clerk), you're more likely to make better decisions about what you buy. Credit cards -- like Vegas gambling chips -- on the other han…

Tracking the bear: How bad could it get?

Major indexes have tumbled to 12-year lows, only to rally right back. Experts weigh in on what to expect next.
By Eugenia Levenson, writer-reporter

NEW YORK (Fortune) -- Don't let Tuesday's rally fool you. While the Dow roared back more than 236 points and the S&P 500 gained 4%, Monday's 12-year lows showed that this bear market may still grow bigger and meaner.

To start the week, both the S&P 500 (SPX) and the Dow Jones industrial average (DJIA) slipped past their November troughs to close at their worst levels since 1997. The Dow's 49.8% drop from its October 2007 peak marked the index's second-sharpest decline since 1901, according to Ned Davis Research. The only steeper drop occurred in the 1930s, during the 813-day free fall that ended with an 86% loss.

Now comes the question: Have we hit the bottom, or will we resume our downward slide?

To make sense of this bear, we sought out some of the smartest market watchers we know and asked them to interpret the si…

1/4 of the deposit in Switzerland banks were withdrawed last year!

瑞士银行业去年损失 四分之一存款
(2009-02-25)
(日内瓦美联电)瑞士各家银行的存户去年提取出了1万4100亿瑞士法郎(约1万8500亿新元)的存款,这超出了该国银行存款总数的25%。对原已面对严重财经危机、两家主要银行严重亏损,以及面对美国官司的瑞士银行业而言,简直是雪上加霜。
  瑞士国家银行一份月度报告显示,瑞士各家银行的存款额下跌27%,现在只有3万8200亿法郎,是自2005年8月以来的新低。

  据报道,外国存户去年所提取的款项,比他们存入户口的多出8820亿法郎,而瑞士存户的净提款额也高达5310亿法郎。

  现在,外国存户在瑞士的存款剩1万3860亿法郎,减少了23%;而瑞士存户剩下的存款数额为4170亿法郎,减少了28%。

  该份报告没有注明个别银行的提款额,但瑞士两家主要银行都表示,他们的存户去年提出了数千亿法郎。

  瑞士银行(UBS AG)透露,该银行去年的净提款达到2260亿法郎。本月初,瑞士银行公布业绩,全年亏损高达197亿法郎,是瑞士企业史上最巨额损失。

  与此同时,美国指控瑞士银行妨碍美国国内税务局办公的案件,也让瑞士银行的形象受损,并导致该银行的股价下跌9.1%至每股10法郎的新低。

  另外,瑞士信贷的提款额也多达数百法郎,该银行去年的全年净亏损为82亿法郎。

Economist Warns Switzerland Could Go Broke

By: Julie Crawshaw Article Font Size

Economist Artur Schmidt says Switzerland could go broke because Swiss banks extended billions in credit to Eastern European countries which now can't pay back the money.

“Switzerland, like Iceland, is threatened with a potential national bankruptcy,” Schmidt told the Swiss daily Tagesanzeige.

Loans made in Swiss francs stimulated rapid economic growth in many Eastern European countries, Schmidt says, making Swiss currency very important.

Swiss banks lent francs to local banks, which in turn lent them to their customers. Such loans were especially attractive because interest rates were much lower than required for loans in local currency.

The system worked as long as exchange rates between Swiss and Eastern European currencies remained reasonably stable.

Now Eastern European currencies are falling and more borrowers are having problems repaying their loans.

“Because of the devaluations of the national currencies, the debt to Switzerland has increased b…

ECB faces mutiny from national bank governors as recession deepens The European Central Bank is capitulating.

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
Last Updated: 8:04PM GMT 23 Feb 2009

For months the ECB held sternly to the high ground of orthodoxy as the US, Japanese, British, Canadian, Swiss and Swedish central banks slashed rates towards zero and embraced quantitative easing, but a confluence of fast-moving events is now forcing it to move.

The credit default swaps that measure bankruptcy risk on the debts of Ireland, Austria and a clutch of Latin Bloc states have vaulted to dangerous levels. In the case of Ireland, the slump is spilling on to the streets. Some 120,000 marched through Dublin over the weekend to protest austerity measures.

The slow fuse on Eastern Europe's banking crisis has detonated, leaving Austrian, Belgian, Italian and other West European banks with $1.5 trillion (£1 trillion) in exposure.
It is happening just as industrial output collapses in the eurozone's core states. Germany's economy contracted at 8.4pc annualised in the fourth quarter. ECB president Jean-Claude Trich…

Another currency crisis that will lead to worldwide meltdown

Another currency crisis similar to 97 Asian currencies crisis is in the making..This time in Europe and potentially 100 times more explosive.


By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
Last Updated: 2:05AM GMT 15 Feb 2009

Failure to save East Europe will lead to worldwide meltdown
The unfolding debt drama in Russia, Ukraine, and the EU states of Eastern Europe has reached acute danger point.

If mishandled by the world policy establishment, this debacle is big enough to shatter the fragile banking systems of Western Europe and set off round two of our financial Götterdämmerung.

Austria's finance minister Josef Pröll made frantic efforts last week to put together a €150bn rescue for the ex-Soviet bloc. Well he might. His banks have lent €230bn to the region, equal to 70pc of Austria's GDP.
"A failure rate of 10pc would lead to the collapse of the Austrian financial sector," reported Der Standard in Vienna. Unfortunately, that is about to happen.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Develo…

Not All Certificates of Deposit Are Plain Vanilla -- or Safe

by Ron Lieber

It was bad enough when big banks started going under. Then, money market funds became suspect. But now, even the humble certificate of deposit has become mired in scandal.

Last week, the Securities and Exchange Commission accused a Texas financier named Robert Allen Stanford of fraud. Investigators allege that the scheme revolved in large part around the sale of about $8 billion of suspiciously high-yielding C.D.’s through Stanford International Bank.

These C.D.’s were not insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. So once again, we’re faced with images of forlorn people trying and failing to extract their life savings.

There’s some question as to whether Stanford ought to have been using the phrase “certificate of deposit.” Most investors who hear “C.D.” immediately assume that it’s safe.

Faulty terminology or not, it’s a bad time for C.D.’s to get a black eye, given that growing numbers of people are looking for secure investments as stocks approach their bear ma…

Four Simple Steps to Resolve the Financial Crisis and Boost the Stock Market

President Obama, Fed Chairman Bernanke, Treasury Secretary Geithner, politicians, economists, strategists and pundits everywhere are doing back-flips trying to find a solution to the banking crisis and resulting stock market meltdown.

But Jon Najarian, president of OptionMonster.com, says there are some simple steps policymakers can take to at least alleviate the crisis and give the stock market a big boost:

* Cut taxes by 10% across the board for corporations and individuals alike: Najarian is a big believer in the healing power of tax cuts but admits it's highly unlikely any tax cuts will be enacted beyond what's in the stimulus bill.

* Raise the FDIC insurance limit to $1 million per account: FDIC insurance was temporarily raised to $250,000 per depositor in October. Najarian says raising it further will bring more capital into the banks - and out from under mattresses - both helping shore up the banks and providing them a base in which to lend. He also advocates for S…

The 'buy and hold' strategy

Goh Eng Yeow on the wisdom of having your money professionally managed.

LIFE goes on as usual for fund managers even though the sky seems to be crashing down around them, as assets of all classes plunge in value.

Last night, they gathered at a posh hotel to celebrate the achievements of their peers and dished out awards to the outstanding performers.

But as my colleague, Gabriel Chen, pointed out in his article this morning, about $1.5 billion has walked out of Singapore unit trusts in the fourth quarter alone.

Indeed, these investors who have made their exit, might have been the smart ones. Stock prices have fallen further since the start of the year and there does not seem to be an end to the stock market carnage in sight.

For the "experts", it has been a trying time, even though some have put on a brave front, waxing lyrical about the need to stay invested.

But investors, who parked their money in unit trusts have discovered that they are doing as badly, if not worse, than thos…

Commentary by Kathy Lien: Race to Zero Interest Rates

With no US economic data released this morning, we take this opportunity to discuss the Race to Zero Interest Rates. Of the eight major central banks, three have already taken interest rates as low as they can. These are the Federal Reserve, the Bank of Japan and the Swiss National Bank. Further interest rate cuts are expected from the other central banks but the question is who will win the race. In this competition, getting to the finish line quickly is not as important as getting there eventually. Not every central bank is expected to take interest rates to zero but at bare minimum it is interesting to talk about how many more rate cuts are expected.

The Federal Reserve – Onto Credit Easing


Growth: There is no question that from a growth perspective, the outlook is the US economy is bleak. More than 6.5 million Americans are claiming unemployment benefits and the unemployment rate is expected to rise to anywhere between 8.2 and 8.8 percent. Consumer spending has been weak a…

99,000 jobs may go (Singapore)

Feb 25, 2009, The Straits Times Breaking News
Job losses in Singapore
99,000 jobs may go

SINGAPROE may lose 99,000 jobs amid the nation's worst economic slump, pushing the jobless rate to 5 per cent by mid-2010, said DBS Bank in a report on Wednesday. DBS also said the economy may contract 4.8 per cent this year, down from its earlier forecast of 3.3 per cent.

'Singapore is likely to experience its worst ever growth this year with a GDP contraction of 4.8 per cent. Labour markets are expected to deteriorate further, it said.

'The unemployment rate will likely hit 5 per cent with cumulative job losses expected to reach 99,000 by 2010. Policy measures that have been put forth so far will help to cushion the blows but the worst of the labour market cycle is yet to come.'

The Singapore economy shrank by 3.7 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2008, compared to a year ago. Singapore's non-oil domestic exports plunged by 17.7 per cent in the same quarter, down significantl…

It will be totally impossible for this crisis to end fast

The author of “The Black Swan,” Nassim Nicholas Taleb, predicts that the global financial crisis will be harder to end than the Great Depression and it may force the United States government to nationalize some banks.

The world has a much more complex financial system than in the 1930s, Mr. Taleb told Bloomberg Television, and that makes the current problems worse. Bonuses paid on Wall Street encouraged risk-taking with no regard for losses, he added.

Rare and unforeseen events are known as “black swans,” after Mr. Taleb’s 2007 book, “The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable.” Mr. Taleb said the current financial crisis isn’t one.

“The black swan for me would be for us to emerge out of this unscathed and return to normalcy,” Mr. Taleb told Bloomberg. Compared to the Great Depression, he said, this crisis is “very different, and it requires much more drastic action.”

Taleb’s book was published in May 2007, about three months before the credit crisis exploded.

Mr. Taleb’s severe p…

More missing debt payment

By Francis Chan

MORE consumers here are missing their credit card and personal loan payments but the numbers still fall below the highs recorded during the Sars outbreak in 2003.

According to the latest figures from Credit Bureau Singapore (CBS), the percentage of consumers, who missed at least one credit card payment rose slightly from 1.48 per cent in December 2007, to 1.67 per cent last December.

Similarly, the percentage of delinquent personal loans that were 30 or more days past due also increased from 3.73 per cent in December 2007 to 5.34 per cent in December last year.

The figures were compiled by CBS on a monthly basis from a data pool of over 1.1 million credit card accounts and more than 65,000 personal loan customers.

'The worsening economy, the rising unemployment level, and the need to ramp up their year-end spending have all taken a toll on consumers' ability to manage their credit card and personal loan payments in the fourth quarter of 2008,' said CBS executiv…

Laid Off? No New Job? How Bad Can It Get?

by Anna Prior

Yes, times are tough. The big banks are on life support. Home prices are in the pits. The stock market's tanked. Unemployment's way, way up.

And...uh-oh. How are you doing? What about your home? Your investments? Your job?

How safe is it? What's the worst that can happen to you?

We put that question to the expert -- Joshua Piven, author of the best-selling "Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook" series. His tongue-in-cheek answer is not pretty: "You lose your job, you run out of savings or a safety net, have to sell [your] home, it's a down market and you can't sell your house, you move, pull the kids out of school, it's not easy to get another job and your whole lifestyle has to change.

"Then there's homelessness, maybe spiraling alcoholism, and then living on the side of the train tracks."

Ugh. More people are facing an extended period of joblessness and the potential financial difficulties that go along with it.

Unemployme…