Friday, January 16, 2009

Barclays (BCS) Crushed

Sometimes it is a wonder the S&P is not trading at 400 instead of 800. Barclays (BCS) - for American readers - is one of the largest UK banks. The UK as you know, decided to follow the US model of light regulation and massive "financial innovation" - you can see it's gotten them in the same pickle we are. It looks like every major bank in the two most "innovative" (i.e. thinking of ways guys with MBAs can act like the snake oil salesmen they are) countries is going to be in the hands of the government.
  • Britain's Barclays PLC was the worst hit stock.... as dismal fourth quarter earnings from Bank of America and Citigroup Inc. and the nationalization of Anglo Irish Bank PLC (AIB) fueled speculation other banks will post bigger than anticipated losses that may eventually require government assistance.
  • "It's become abundantly clear by the results and the AIB news that the world's banking sector needs more capital and the market is speculating that Barclays will need more capital," said David Buik of BGC Partners in London.
  • Barclays opted not to take government cash during last October's 37 billion pound bailout ($55 billion) of the banks and instead raised 7 billion pounds from private investors in the Middle East. Earlier this week, the company announced plans to axe 4,200 jobs to cut costs, further stoking fears that the bank was short of cash.
  • Other British banks suffered late selling, with Royal Bank of Scotland, nearly 60 percent owned by the government, down 13 percent and Lloyds TSB down about 5 percent. The losses came on the day that a ban on short-selling of shares was lifted in Britain.
We're literally going to have armies of zombie banks in the two countries that drive Western finance. (but we're not Japan, mind you so don't you dare imply it)

The laughable thing about all this is as the banks lobbyied for less and less regulation, they pointed to each other (New York would point at London, and London at New York) and say "if you give us regulation, we'll lose business to the other city!" There is almost sweet justice to this - if it wasn't costing us our economies. I just am sickened that so many executives and top honchos (the used car salesmen) made so much money that they get to keep, while 2 countries financial systems implode.

More importantly to me, who is going to sponsor the English Premier League??

These truly are times I hope future politicians remember when the next generation of bankers whisper sweet nothings about how regulation is destroying their profit potential and in fact the entire potential of the national economy. The realist in me, knows sometime 5+ years from now whatever regulation is now enforced will be loosened with the same sorry excuses they used the past decade... regulation is stifling our ability to innovate. Money talks - that's all that matters in the long run. You pay - you shape the rules. Cramerica.

A sorry state of affairs. One day, I hope someone writes the book on the sordid dealings between these financiers and their lobbyists and the politicos. Maybe Americans would get mad... or protest... or... nah, nevermind. Football is on this weekend; we have priorities.

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