Meaning “High Frequency Blogging.” Some quick takes on things that caught my eye.
- Echoing my looking back, looking forward point (made in July) re Libor, lawyers are very nervous that changes in the rate setting mechanism will call existing contracts-with outstanding amounts in the mere hundreds of trillions-into question. Yeah, it’s broken, but be damned careful how you fix it-especially if you expect those “fixes” to be retroactive, and affect existing contracts. Unless you want to subsidize corporate litigators and wreak widespread economic havoc.
- OTC derivatives rules may be delayed due to “squabbling” among international regulators. What a shock. I mean, Carnac the Magnificent couldn’t have seen that coming.
- The White House is backing off on its claims that the Mohammed video is the sole cause of the assaults on US diplomatic facilities throughout the Middle East. On 9/11/12. Jay Carney has a new explanation: an absence of gun control. Seriously. When asked about the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi in which US ambassador Stevens was killed, Carney said: There is an abundance of weapons, including heavy weapons, and there are certainly groups that carry those weapons and look to take advantage of those circumstances—as there are around the region and the world.” So, on 9/11, some heavily armed dudes were just walking around and decided: “Hey. Let’s attack something. Eenie, meenie, meiny, mo [NOT referring to Mohammed, mind you]-The American Consulate!” Totally random. Totally. Not anti-US. Not at all.
- The Taliban attack on a US airbase in Afghanistan that destroyed six USMC AV-6 Harriers was a total clusterf*ck. But O didn’t let that interrupt Jay-Z, Letterman, etc. Priorities. Have to have priorities, dontcha know.
- This piece on China’s Solyndra Economy echoes several points I made in my earlier post recommending that we lose any competition with China on green energy technology.
- The very excellent Michael Pettis rightly points out dangers for commodities emanating from China’s fraught economic condition. Like me, Michael is somewhat amazed that people who would decry central planning and heavy handed government efforts to direct the allocation of capital in the US or Europe are in awe of Chinese genius in using central planning and heavy handed government efforts to direct the allocation of capital in China. This will not end well. Yeah, I’ve been saying that for a while, but I am convinced that in a few years (if not sooner) China will wish to have Japan’s problems.
- Finally, to that point, consider the fact that large quantities of inventories of steel in China-allegedly in China, I should say-don’t exist. And if it happens in steel, it can happen in copper or soybeans or whatever, and likely does. Phony warehouse receipts have been used to collateralize billions of loans-or the same warehouse receipts have been used to collateralize billions in loans. Either way, China’s shadow banking system-which depends heavily on loans collateralized by commodities inventory-arguably is far more shadow than bank. Remember that even modest slowdowns in economic activity can unravel fraud schemes in a hurry. Such a slowdown is happening in China right now, and it is extremely likely that numerous such frauds will be revealed. Given the dependence of China on shadow banking, the consequences of this could be seismic. What say you, Tooltime Tom Friedman?
And on that happy note, I am pulling the kill switch on this HFB experiment.