Posts Tagged ‘banking’

A couple of months ago, Nassim Taleb spoke out in Bloomberg about the “reforms” taking place in the financial system under the Obama and Geithner plans. He expressed his disgust and disappointment that not only are governments bailing out failed institutions but the new accounting standards being proposed after the crisis allow for even less transparency in reporting of gains and losses.

Towards the latter part of his interview Taleb briefly touched on a two-tier concept for the financial system: one side solely for utilitarian purposes but very low risk (banks), the other side solely for risk taking (hedge funds). The key to making this system work is that governments will be very protective of the banks for as long as they are not allowed to freely take risk, whilst the hedge funds can take on as much speculation as they wish, but are not subject to bailout. This would reduce moral hazard and would provide a more robust financial system. In a speaking engagement in Germany, Taleb specifically describes this two-tiered idea.

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Former derivatives trader turned skeptical philosopher, Nassim Taleb, vents his frustration at the world financial system for allowing hindsight bias to fool them into a false sense of security which has now led to the worldwide financial crisis and recession.

Taleb criticizes economists for relying on theoretical models that have little bearing on the real-world appreciation of risk, and blames banks for throwing large amounts of capital on academics and PhDs whose economic theories were widely off the mark in anticipating the global crash.

(It’s just too bad the journalist couldn’t formulate better questions to appreciate the thinking of this guy. (Next to economists and academics, Taleb despises journalists too.)

We discussed some of Taleb’s ideas here before, notably the Platonic fallacy and fallacy of history, which are dangerous human tendencies that can lead to a grave misunderstanding of events which is exactly how he describes the current financial crisis.

Taleb is a skeptical empiricist: or one who considers historical evidence only as a PARTIAL indicator of probabilities, as opposed to naive empiricists who consider historical evidence as the complete basis for predicting future events. Skeptical empiricists like Taleb never admit to knowing the truth fully, and only fully consider evidence that DISPUTES a claim, while evidence that SUPPORTS a claim can never be fully accepted.

He was inspired by skeptical thinkers like Karl Popper whose theory of falsification we feature in this website. Popper also inspired the investment styles of other investors such as George Soros and Jim Rogers.

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Aurelio “Gigi” Montinola III is the president of the Bank of the Philippine Islands, and one of the most respected bankers in the Philippines. He wrote the following messages, which I find as the most sober and forthright thoughts in this financial crisis.

Fellow Unibankers,

Attached please find a piece that I was supposed to write for an outside publication – unfortunately, I cannot submit it as the ending is perpetually changing.

What I thought to be a gathering storm to hit in the first quarter of 2009 has hit our beaches yesterday – the Philippine Stock Exchange had its highest (12. 27 %) drop in history a single day, and the Peso Dollar exchange rate is creeping back from around P 41: $ 1 to almost P 50 : $1. Like other markets in the region, the PSEI has dropped 50% ytd, and people are getting nervous.

It has now become a Fundamentals versus Emotion issue – Philippine economic fundamentals relative to the world and even Asia are good, and the banking system is stable, but Bloomberg 24×7 Television, local media reports, and cocktail party talk make people fear the worst, and then expect the worst.

We know however from experience that Filipinos are resilient and have survived the economic crises of the foreign debt moratorium in the 1980s and the Asian Crisis in the 1990s.

BPI remains well capitalized, strong, and prudent – and both our customers and the market analysts appreciate this. 2008 will show lower earnings than our banner year in 2007, and we must now worry about what 2009 will bring.

As in the past, this negative cycle will eventually pass, but in the meantime, we will have to prepare for the typhoon.

Let us all work together to take care of our customers, and in the process, keep BPI strong and our employees safe and secure in their jobs.

All the best,

Gigi Montinola

His message follows:


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In a similar vein as films we have featured here before such as Money as Debt, Money Masters, and criticism posed by Zeitgeist Addendum, here is a documentary featuring personalities from the Mises Institute about the nature and flaws of the present monetary system. This is Money, Banking, and the Federal Reserve.

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Latest news is that the US government has unveiled its intention to buy about USD250B worth of bank equity–to recapitalize their banking system. This in effect, nationalizes the US banking system, and after its absorption of Federal institutions Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Indymac, and recently AIG, puts the once proudly capitalistic country closer to its European counterparts: socialist.


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I am not a Finance man, but the article below seems quite bad. Just fixing this seems to be a big problem, and other bankruptcies can occur anytime.


Sept. 29 (Bloomberg) — The Federal Reserve will pump an additional $630 billion into the global financial system, flooding banks with cash to alleviate the worst banking crisis since the Great Depression.

The Fed increased its existing currency swaps with foreign central banks by $330 billion to $620 billion to make more dollars available worldwide. The Term Auction Facility, the Fed’s emergency loan program, will expand by $300 billion to $450 billion. The European Central Bank, the Bank of England and the Bank of Japan are among the participating authorities.

The Fed’s expansion of liquidity, the biggest since credit markets seized up last year, came hours before the U.S. House of Representatives rejected a $700 billion bailout for the financial industry. The crisis is reverberating through the global economy, causing stocks to plunge and forcing European governments to rescue four banks over the past two days alone.


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