23 October 2008

Buyer beware (2)

Given the way the present financial crisis seems to have caught even the brightest economic minds in the world by surprise, perhaps we are looking too deeply for the tell-tale signs that would have warned us of impending meltdown. Certainly the development of increasingly complex financial instruments, from Options to CDS'es, that separated the price of the risk from the asset it backed didn't help.

But following the Icelandic banks whose assets are now frozen, there seems to be more nominative determinism at work, as Goldman Sachs laid off 10% of its workforce today, giving lazy headline writers perhaps the easiest day's work this year. Certainly the credit ratings given to banks by Standard & Poor must feel uncomfortably close to the truth. And I am not sure I would trust my savings to the New Zealand-based company called Blackhole Investments. As for the Fuxin Bank in China - let's hope that one stays nationalised.

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