Some highlights from Monday’s FTfm.
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Much hilarity on the Jim Rogers front.
The man organising the Trading Day Seminar in London next month at which Jim Rogers is was due to speak has issued a retraction of the press release issued on Thursday, where he put words into the mouth of the globe-trotting investment guru. Read more
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Those Molotov cocktail-wielding protesters who took to the streets of Athens on Wednesday are not going to like this.
On Friday, the Wall Street Journal — citing an unnamed “senior government official” — reported the European Union is “pushing Greece to urgently adopt new austerity measures amounting to an extra €4 billion”. Read more
One of the central suggestions of the presentation was that lenders would no longer be able to start foreclosing on a delinquent borrower until they’d been screened and judged ineligible for the Hamp. Read more
AIG, the insurer that has gobbled up around $180bn in taxpayer cash, on Friday reported its results for the fourth quarter and full-year 2009.
Depending on your perspective, the results were either a significant improvement compared with the same period a year ago or quite irksome indeed, given the $100m in bonuses paid to 200 AIG staff. Read more
Live markets commentary from FT.com
Recent developments in both China and the US have boosted speculation that the People’s Republic is preparing to let its currency appreciate. And judging by the tone emanating from western politicians and pundits, if a revaluation is not forthcoming, you can expect a whole lot more anti-China rhetoric.
On Thursday in Washington, a bipartisan group of 15 US senators lashed out at China’s currency practices — including massive dollar buying to hold down the renminbi — describing them as effective subsidies and urging the Obama administration to consider taking action against Chinese imports. Read more
Sterling up to and after the release of Friday’s upward revision to fourth quarter GDP.
Bank of England, Bank of England
How does your QE grow?
By silver debasement and reserve placement,
And uncertainty set out below.*
Monetary Policy Committee member David Miles gave a speech on Thursday about the Bank of England’s asset-purchasing programme; quantitative easing (QE). Read more
Comment, analysis and other offerings from Friday’s FT,
Martin Wolf: How unruly economists can agree
If all the economists in the world were laid end to end, they would not reach a conclusion, says the FT’s Wolf. The “battle of the letters” – two letters in the FT, from Lord Skidelsky and other and Lord Layard and others, replying to a letter in the Sunday Times from Professor Tim Besley and others – brings this hoary joke to mind. Read more
The US Federal Reserve is examining the role of Goldman Sachs and other banks in arranging contentious derivatives trades for Greece, Fed chairman Ben Bernanke revealed on Thursday. Testifying before Congress, Bernanke also acknowledged concerns that instability in markets for Greek debt has been heightened by trading in credit default swaps, which insure investors against default. Separately, an SEC spokesman said the regulator is examining “potential abuses and destabilising effects” related to CDS and other “opaque” products and practices.
The commission set up by the US Congress to examine causes of the 2008 financial crisis will interview foreign regulators and question top bank executives. Phil Angelides, chairman of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, said he planned to question overseas regulators to understand the differences with US oversight. Before the FCIC’s second public hearing on Friday, Angelides, a former California state treasurer, said he had been struck by how Goldman Sachs had been “creating and selling securities and then fully betting against them”.
Sterling dropped to a nine-month low against the US dollar on Thursday and even lost ground against the battered euro amid growing concerns about UK economi prospects. After figures showed that business investment had fallen far more than expected in the final quarter of 2009, the pound fell to $1.5213 against the dollar, its weakest since May. Not only did business investment fall for a sixth successive quarter but the decline worsened in the fourth quarter, falling 5.8% compared with a fall of 1.8% in Q3.
Lehman Brothers Holdings has agreed to pay JPMorgan Chase $557m in cash and let it keep $7.1bn in collateral to settle claims related to Lehman’s 2008 bankruptcy filing, according to court documents. As part of the settlement, JPMorgan Chase will also transfer back to Lehman illiquid securities with a “face value in the billions of dollars”. JPMorgan served as the primary clearing bank for Lehman’s brokerage division.
Royal Bank of Scotland admitted on Thursday that more than 100 of its investment bankers will receive bonuses of at least £1m for 2009, a year in which the largely state-owned bank posted a net loss of £3.6bn. The disclosure followed the offer by CEO Stephen Hester to waive his own bonus and cut the amount of revenue paid out in compensation to staff. RBS made an operating loss of £6.2bn last year, compared with £6.9bn in 2008; its £1.3bn bonus pool meanwhile averages at about £76,500 for each of its 17,000 investment-banking staff.
JPMorgan Chase executives outlined plans on Thursday to double net income from last year’s $11.7bn once credit markets improve and the bank reaps returns from recent acquisitions and investments. The executives, including CEO Jamie Dimon, speaking at the bank’s annual investor conference at its Manhattan headquarters, did not specify when they would reach the target for annual profits of $22-$24bn.
Talks have collapsed between the UK, the Netherlands and Iceland about repayment of £3.4bn lost by depositors in the failed online bank Icesave, raising fears that the country will fail to meet its obligations. Iceland on Monday rejected an offer to soften repayment terms, British officials said, dashing hopes of avoiding a March 6 referendum in which Icelanders are expected to reject the original repayment plan. A ‘no’ vote would plunge Iceland into fresh turmoil.