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Marketplace Scratch Pad

Morning Reading

Scott Jagow May 20, 2009

If you’re looking for people with banking experience, you might want to avoid bank boardrooms. Bloomberg has an analysis of banks’ board of directors. It finds that less than 15% of directors at the country’s 10 biggest banks have actually worked in banking. In hindsight, that doesn’t seem surprising. Other interesting reads:

Why is Obama getting creamed on the budget? (The New Republic)
“In the budget score, a billion in new education spending looks just like a billion in higher Social Security benefits. But to consider both expenditures a kind of “borrowing from the future” or “generational theft” is mindless. Borrowing to invest in reforms with potentially enormous but hard-to-calculate returns is not the same as, say, borrowing to finance a high-income consumption binge, like some recent presidents we could name, who didn’t appear to feel any guilt at all about fiscal responsibility.”

Why credit default swaps are so dangerous (The Institutional Risk Analyst)
“No matter how good an operator JPM CEO Jamie Dimon may be, his bank is DOA without its near-monopoly in OTC derivatives — yet that same business may eventually destroy JPM. The key thing for the public and the Congress to understand is that the “profits” earned from these unregulated derivatives markets are illusory and do not cover the true risk of OTC derivatives. Put another way, on a systemic basis, risk-adjusted profits from OTC derivatives are not positive over time.”

Why government can’t run a business (John Steele Gordon/WSJ)
“American government was designed by the Founding Fathers to be inefficient, and inefficient it most certainly is. The president is the government’s CEO, but except for trivial matters he can’t do anything without the permission of two separate, very large committees (the House and Senate) whose members have their own political agendas. Government always has many cooks, which is why the government’s broth is so often spoiled.”

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