Thursday, January 10, 2008

the meltdown

Kevin Drum at The Washington Monthly summarizes the end-of-year economic news, and the news is bad. Really bad. Xmas sales were down 2% and credit card debt was up, 11.3%!!!

I, personally, still don't think this recession will be particularly "bad", but it will be painful, if only because this recession will expose just how hollow the American economy has become and how fragile our prosperity is.

For a rundown on the state of (formerly) American Banking, nothing compares to I won't cite a particular post, but there are several there right now that will sober anyone up. BofA in Fed-sponsored negotiations to acquire bankrupt Countrywide is a good rumor as I write this -- that BofA is negotiating is confirmed fact, but the Federal Reserve sweetening the deal with guarantees is the rumor. If we are that desperate, we are desperate.

The list of leading American banks going abroad for major ($5 and $10 billion) equity investments is also scary news. The American banking system is being sold off. The impetus is pending end-of-quarter and end-of-year financial statements. Without the additional capital in place, some (maybe) all of these banks would have "illegal" balance sheets, unable to meet the requirements of regulatory agencies and underwriters.

This is a very big deal. And, of course, perfect storm material, if there ever was any.

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