Dirigisme

Dirigisme is an economic term designating an economy where the government exerts strong directive influence.

While the term has occasionally been applied to centrally planned economies, where the government effectively controls production and allocation of resources (in particular, to certain socialist economies where the national government owns the means of production), it originally had neither of these meanings when applied to France, and generally designates a mainly capitalist economy with strong economic participation by government. Most modern economies can be characterized as dirigisme to some degree – for instance, governmental action may be exercised through subsidizing research and developing new technologies, or through government procurement, especially military (i.e. a form of mixed economy).

Theory of Reflexivity

“I must state at the outset that I am in fundamental disagreement with the prevailing wisdom. The generally accepted theory is that financial markets tend towards equilibrium, and on the whole, discount the future correctly. I operate using a different theory, according to which financial markets cannot possibly discount the future correctly because they do not merely discount the future; they help to shape it. In certain circumstances, financial markets can affect the so-called fundamentals which they are supposed to reflect. When that happens, markets enter into a state of dynamic disequilibrium and behave quite differently from what would be considered normal by the theory of efficient markets. Such boom/bust sequences do not arise very often, but when they do, they can be very disruptive, exactly because they affect the fundamentals of the economy.”

– George Soros, 1994

Singapore devalues after shock GDP drop

Apr 15, 2009
Singapore devalued its currency yesterday after its economy shrank far more than expected.

The city state’s gross domestic product shrank an annualised 19.7 per cent in the first three months of the year – more than twice the 9.6 per cent drop analysts had forecast and worse than the 16.4 per cent rate at which it contracted between October and December. The fall was the biggest since at least 1975.

Singapore-based banks DBS and UOB adjusted their GDP forecasts, predicting the economy would shrink at least 7.5 per cent this year.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore shifted the centre of the secret trade-weighted band for the Singapore dollar down to the market level of the exchange rate basket, effectively a devaluation.

“The re-centring translates to roughly a 1.7 per cent devaluation of the Singapore dollar on a trade-weighted basis,” said Wai Ho Leong, a regional economist at Barclays Capital in Singapore. It was the first effective lowering of the currency band since July 2003, he said.

“The situation is really dire and the central bank’s policy will improve sentiment and help the economy,” said Vishnu Varathan, an economist at Forecast Singapore. The move “gives them the flexibility to weaken the currency now and steer it to strengthen when things get better”.

Reuters, Bloomberg

Thriving bear sees many more US bank failures

Thriving bear sees many more US bank failures
Reuters in New York
Apr 04, 2009

John Jacquemin, a hedge fund manager of Mooring Financial Corp, who predicted the credit crisis and tripled his investors’ money over the past two years, warned that hundreds of United States banks were doomed to fail and that an economic recovery was far away.

Mooring Financial has posted 10 consecutive years of gains snapping up loans at distressed prices, while his two-year-old Intrepid Opportunities Fund generated 222 per cent returns betting against corporate debt and financial stocks.

Beyond a housing glut and slower consumer spending, Mr Jacquemin said he remained bearish because banks and regulators had not confronted the mountains of bad loans still on banks’ books.

While banks needed to mark down bonds to prevailing market prices, “with whole loans, they don’t have to and they haven’t”, he said.

“If they did, there would be literally hundreds and hundreds of insolvent banks,” he said.

Eighteen years ago, Mr Jacquemin was a commercial lender who snapped up loans sold by Resolution Trust and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp in the wake of the savings and loans crisis.

Mr Jacquemin said government agencies were aggressive in closing failed banks, selling branches and deposits to the highest bidders. Today, he contends, officials have been more tentative, allowing weak banks to hobble along.

“If the banks sold these loans for what they could get, they would be insolvent,” Mr Jacquemin said. “The difference between now and the 1990s is the government today is not closing banks down.”

This approach would only prolong the crisis.

“They’re not being aggressive because it would scare the hell out of us,” Mr Jacquemin said. “But we can’t get rid of the problem the way they’re approaching it now … [The government] ought to be closing the weak banks and helping recapitalise the stronger ones.”

Little-known Mooring Financial has generated returns on par with renowned credit market bear John Paulson and his hedge fund firm Paulson.

Mr Jacquemin’s Mooring Capital Fund has never had a losing year and returned 12 per cent a year, on average, for 10 years buying distressed loans and debt.

The excesses of the credit bubble – reckless leverage and frothy property markets – prompted him to launch Intrepid Opportunities in February 2007.

The fund shorted indices that tracked bond and mortgage markets, as well as bet against banks, credit card lenders and other financial companies.

The new fund soared 56 per cent last year, when equities fell 40 per cent and the average hedge fund dropped 18 per cent.

Mr Jacquemin said the firm, which manages US$400 million, was seeking new investors.

While bank shares have rallied in recent weeks, Mr Jacquemin has maintained his negative views on corporate bonds and finance stocks.

He predicts rising commercial property defaults and worries that consumer spending will never rebound to pre-crisis levels.

Mr Jacquemin said housing prices would not improve until the glut of empty units was absorbed – a process that will take at least 18 months and as long as 2-1/2 years.

Sudha Feat Zoe Johnston – Leche (Thomas Schwartz and Fausto Fanizza Radio Edit)

Featuring the vocals of Zoe Johnston, Sudha (the percussionist from Faithless and no stranger to dance floors the world over) has a hit on her hands! A very nice progressive house track, complemented by Thomas Schwartz and Fausto Fanizza on remix duties.

For all of eternity
I will be loving you.
Can you hear me?
If longing was power then I could set you free.

I wanna sing louder than I’ve ever done before
Oh, my joy and anger.
How can this be? You’ve taken from me.
Take freedom from somebody kind.

For all of eternity
I will be your girl.
Can you hear me?
Oh, if I could set you free.

I wanna sing louder than I’ve ever done before
Oh, my joy and anger.
How can this be? You’ve taken from me.
Take freedom from somebody kind.

From somebody I love.