Market based solutions to the financial crisis

If you want to nationalise a bank then you are putting it into the hands of the state, therefore the taxpayer, so how can you be fair to the people of a country when you nationalise a bank while also giving the shareholders and bondholders some opportunity at redeeming at least a portion of their money, and most importantly, how do you do this with a market based solution? Is there a market based solution?

Currently the answer has been to take the good, the bad, and the ugly onto the national balance sheet. Is this really what the taxpayer wants? Instead would it be better if they only took the good assets – thus protecting the tax payer, and left all of the toxic debt to the bond and shareholders and let them see what they can get out of the remaining assets?

They may not be getting protected (shareholders/preference shareholders/bond holders) but when was it a taxpayers responsibility to protect investors of any firm? It certainly is not in …

Read More

Short selling, what is it? What does short selling do?

Most of us are familiar with the idea of being able to buy and then sell a share, normally this is referred to as going ‘long’ in other words you feel it is a good share and you want to hold on to it. The opposite of this is where you sell and then buy which is going ‘short’, in other words you don’t think the stock is good and you don’t want to hold on to it so you borrow it and sell it today, buy it tomorrow (and dispose again to the original owner) and your position is set by the difference.

In a short sale a drop in the price makes you money because (for instance) if you sold today at $3.00 and bought back at $2.80 then you made 20c per share. If however, the price goes up to say $3.20 then you have to make up the difference. This is before we get into other areas like options or any derivatives. An easy …

Read More

Irish Government bonds, what is happening?

Governments often have to raise money to achieve their objectives over the short and medium term, in Ireland we do this by raising bonds which is basically where a buyer (private or institutional) acts as the ‘bank’ for the state. The creditworthiness of our nation is currently the lowest in the Eurozone, below that of countries like Greece and Portugal. This means that we have to pay more interest to attract a buyer.

Today Moody’s (a rating agency) has put Ireland on watch for a debt rating downgrade (it means our debt will be considered less secure), and that means that we will have to pay even more in order to attract new investors for bonds. How this trickles down to the person on the street is simple, we’ll have to foot the bill eventually because the ultimate guarantor of state borrowing are the people in that country. The tools to achieve this with are higher taxes and less public spending, both equally unpopular.

For now we …

Read More