The Debt Problem Has Not Gone Away

Filed in Debt, Dollar Strength, economy, Gold, New Gold, Spot Gold by on February 1, 2010 0 Comments

Last year’s stock market rally was impressive. But what if it was merely a case of investors taking on more risk, having been encouraged by low interest rates and all the liquidity sloshing around in the stock market, taking it higher? How would that be substantially different from banks taking advantage of low rates and liquidity to make epically bad lending decisions? We’ll get back that in a second. Like it or not, the Aussie share market still takes its marching orders from the U.S. action. It hasn’t decoupled yet – even though what drives the respective economies of Australia and America is somewhat different. Australia has resource demand for its raw materials from emerging markets. America does not. But both countries have debt (especially household debt), and plenty of it. Here in Australia, what will investors think of the new powers being sought by the Federal government on behalf the corporate regulator, ASIC? ASIC would have the power to tap phone lines, impose fines of $500,000 on insider traders, and double jail terms for insider traders from five to ten years. Hmmn. Better yet, what will corporate insiders think? We’ve seen some strange share price activity since moving to Australia four years ago. Shares move on no news and volume spikes. Then a few days or weeks later some important announcement comes out. And frankly, the disclosure rules for insider buying (or selling), or at least the enforcement of those rules, seem fairly voluntary. Not that it’s any better in America or anywhere else. But perhaps because of the smaller financial community and the underpowered regulator, the insiders have a better time of it here than they might other places. Ahem. But the power to tap telephones? Yikes. That sounds draconian. But it’s fully in line with the encroachment of government power into private life, so it’s no big surprise. Outside Australia, more trouble is piling up for the world’s most debt-addled nations. “We no longer classify the United Kingdom (AAA/Negative/A-1+) among the most stable and low-risk banking systems globally,” said ratings agency Standard and Poor’s. The FTSE finished lower on that cheery note. This is the big back story to today’s financial markets. The debt problem has not gone away. Banks have recapitalised, making up for some of their losses from 2008 and 2009. But you still have a financial system addicted to debt and leverage. Investors have bought into the recovery story, though, and taken a punt on shares at just the time they ought …

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The Debt Problem Has Not Gone Away

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