A lotta great stuff in the papers this morning, so let’s begin:
- An important side story to the financial meltdown has been the way British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has used it to narrow the gap between him and his Tory opponent, David Cameron; until recently, Cameron had been up by double-digit points and the British commentariat has largely written Brown off. But early on, Brown, the former chancellor of the exchequer, said that a crisis of this magnitude meant the UK couldn’t afford to let a newbie (Cameron is just 42) take over. He has since underlined that point by launching a series of aggressive interventions into the British banking system, including the probable nationalization of the Royal Bank of Scotland. Now he’s pressing another, even bigger proposal, a reconstructed International Monetary Fund that could act as a “global early warning system” for the financial system. European Union leaders are expected to put forward a similar position soon. So at least someone is profiting from all this mess.
- In an interview with the Wall Street Journal (which, contrary to my post yesterday, apparently not longer puts the bulk of its content behind paywalls), FDIC head Sheila Bair wraps Washington for not providing more help to homeowners. Until now she’s been a steady soldier in the Bush response squad, allowing Paulson and Bernanke to set the pace. But she has also seen her agency gain enormous new powers and take a central role in the unfolding government response--and apparently she’s not going to sit quietly. (Oh, and for those who really don’t get what’s going on in the economy, she’s even written a children’s book about the magic of compound interest.)
- It’s from yesterday, but an article in the Washington Post does a good job of explaining the emergence of credit derivatives and Washington’s failure to grasp their importance and risk. The piece goes too far by implying that Clinton-era SEC Chair Arthur Levitt was a key obstacle--Levitt is the standard-bearer for better accounting and stricter regulation of complex financial instruments--but it is a good read anyway.
- Also, two stories unrelated to finance, but still interesting to me, at least: Turns out J