The Bankwatch

Tracking the consumer evolution of financial services

Posts Tagged ‘economy

A succint comparison of exiting 1980 recession, and 2009 recession


I thought this a particularly succinct view of the next 10 years view prospects for banks and their business planning.

The view from New York | Buttonwood/ Economist

The bearish view came from Josh Rosner of Graham-Fisher. Mr Rosner was one of the first analysts to spot the potential havoc caused by the interaction between subprime mortgages and structured products like CDOs. He thinks the economy will not rebound as it did in the 1980s. Demographic trends are not as favourable (the baby boomers were entering their prime earning period in the 1980s; now they are retiring); while credit card use was about to explode (now it is contracting). He argues that small businesses, a key source of job creation are still being denied credit; one problem is that small businessmen can no longer afford to use their houses as collateral.

Written by Colin Henderson

October 20, 2009 at 22:30

Mervyn King calls for banks’ break up per “The Great Unwinding” post in Feb


It is with some relish I see Mervyn King agreeing with me from last February.

King calls for break-up of banks | FT – Oct 2009

Mervyn King, governor of the Bank of England, called on Tuesday night for banks to be split into separate utility companies and risky ventures, saying it was “a delusion” to think tougher regulation would prevent future financial crises.

The Great Unwinding | part 1 of 3: 2009 – 2012 | The Bankwatch – Feb 2009

This will effectively split the financial community into two distinct sets:

  1. financial utilities – significant operating restrictions in light of implicit and explicit government guarantees underpinning the business
  2. risk takers – not clearly defined as yet – will be dependent on regulation applicability

I expect my commission cheque is in the mail.

Full Text of King speech at in Edinburgh on 20 October 2009: speech406 pdf

Edit:  King provides attribution to John Kay here written Sept 09.

Written by Colin Henderson

October 20, 2009 at 14:57

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , ,

Bank retail operations have not recovered despite profits


In this piece at the NY Times, Krugman points out the obvious that despite profits, Banks’ retail operations have not recovered. The large profits we are hearing about are all centred in the Investment Banking units.

I would add that it will take more than a turnaround in consumer confidence and reduction in unemployment. It will also take time to work through the de-leveraging impacts of consumer desire to reduce debts and save more for future crises while this one is firmly in peoples minds. For everyone who is still working they know of someone who is not, and that memory takes time to erase.

The Banks Are Not Alright

But there’s an even bigger problem: while the wheeler-dealer side of the financial industry, a k a trading operations, is highly profitable again, the part of banking that really matters — lending, which fuels investment and job creation — is not. Key banks remain financially weak, and their weakness is hurting the economy as a whole.

Written by Colin Henderson

October 19, 2009 at 10:49

US deficit reaches world record levels, and rising


US deficit is now in Botswana and Russia territory in terms of record levels relative to GDP. The argument that this is not inflationary sounds to me like pushing water uphill.

$1.4 Trillion Deficit Complicates Stimulus Plans

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration said Friday that the federal budget deficit for the fiscal year that just ended was $1.4 trillion, nearly a trillion dollars greater than the year before and the largest shortfall relative to the size of the economy since 1945.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/17/us/17deficit.html?_r=1&th&emc=th

Written by Colin Henderson

October 17, 2009 at 02:25

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , ,

The Economist Special Report on the World Economy coins the term ‘Gandhian Banking’


Under the heading ‘Gandhian Banking’ The Economist reveals the extent of worldwide government injection into banks at $432 billion by this spring and guaranteed bank debts at $4.65 trillion. Of perhaps even greater significance is the implicit guarantee that now exists for all banks.

By this summer 33 American banks had repaid the capital the government had injected into them. The new era of state ownership seemed to be passing almost as quickly as it had arrived. But the state still has a large stake in the financial system beyond its explicit ownership of shares. It now owns the risk of any of the bigger institutions failing. Governments will do their utmost to avoid a repeat of anything like the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and the ensuing chaos.

The piece is part of the Special Report on the World Economy. The broad theme of the report is one that has taken the media some time to catch up with, and that is the meaning of recovery and getting back to normal, or as they call in the ‘new normal’ and ‘normalcy’.

Massive fiscal and monetary stimulus is cushioning the damage to households’ and banks’ balance-sheets, but the underlying problems remain. In America and other former bubble economies, household debts are worryingly high, and banks need to bolster their capital. That suggests consumer spending will be lower and the cost of capital higher than before the crunch. The world economy may see a few quarters of respectable growth, but it will not bounce back to where it would have been had the crisis never happened.

The reality of the new normal is that it does require significantly different planning and strategies and continuing with the pre 2008 strategies will not succeed. Again, and as noted yesterday (To Big to Fail and How Little the Concept is Misunderstood) it will be fascinating to see where the innovation in consumer banking products and channels comes from in banking.

Going back to my earlier ramblings on the future of banking lying in two camps:

  1. financial utilities
  2. innovators

… I remain even more convinced of this evolution. At the moment, the majority or all of TBTF’s (Too Big to Fail) are or will be in the financial utility category based on their fiddle while Rome is burning approach.

Written by Colin Henderson

October 5, 2009 at 22:16

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , ,

Google Internet Stats


Although on the co.uk domain only, this is a very useful new site from Google. One to save for future reference.

Google Internet Stats

This Google resource brings together the latest industry facts and insights. These have been collected from a number of third party sources covering a range of topics from macroscopic economic and media trends to how consumer behaviour and technology are changing over time.

HT to ReadWriteWeb

Written by Colin Henderson

September 12, 2009 at 22:49

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , ,

Canadian Banks have a Productivity Gap relative to the US


Following up on the previous post covering the Bank of Canada’s view that Canadian Banks do not have a productivity gap [pdf 19 pages] relative to US Banks, here is the basis for that contention within a 2006 report.

The conclusion copied here in whole is in my view, woefully misleading and contradictory. It reads to me like someone with political motivations has turned facts into something that meets policy objectives. Analysis to follow.

This work examines the efficiency and productivity of Canadian and U.S. banks in three ways.

First, we compare key performance ratios and find that (i) the average Canadian bank employee produces more assets than the average U.S. bank employee, and (ii) in terms of producing net operating revenue, Canadian and U.S. bank workers are similarly productive.

Second, we investigate whether there are economies of scale in the cost functions of Canadian banks and a sample of U.S. BHCs. We find larger economies of scale for Canadian banks than for the U.S. BHCs. This suggests that Canadian banks are less efficient with regard to the scale of their operations and would have more to gain in terms of efficiency benefits from becoming larger.

Third, we measure cost-inefficiency in Canadian banks and in U.S. BHCs relative to the domestic efficient frontier in each country (the domestic
best-practice institution). We find that Canadian banks are closer to the domestic efficient frontier than are the U.S. BHCs, and that they have moved closer to that efficient frontier over time.

Overall, these results do not suggest relative efficiency or productivity gaps in the Canadian banking industry. On the contrary, Canadian banks compare generally favourably.

Finally, as noted above, legislative and regulatory changes have benefited efficiency in Canadian financial services. This shows the importance of removing any remaining restrictions that inhibit competition and efficiency, but provide little (or no) benefit in terms of financial soundness.

Some facts from their report:

  • Expense ratio Canada – 67 cents per dollar of revenue
  • Expense ratio US – 59 cents per dollar of revenue
  • Assets per employee Canada – $6.1M
  • Assets per employee US – $4.1M
  • operating revenue per employee US/ Canada same at $0.3M

This from the report:

Our analysis indicates that the difference in the expense ratios can be currently attributed to a higher labour cost component (wages and benefits) at Canadian banks. However, this differential does not imply disparities in productivity, which concerns how much output is produced per unit of input (typically, labour).

Relevance to Bankwatch:
Translation. Bank of Canada views Canadian Banks as productive by taking the narrow view of relative employee output. However that view excludes the overall budget of banks that includes real estate, and technology. The latter points explain the overall expense disparity per dollar of revenue earned at a significant 8 cents.

In other words productivity is a measure of investment not of employees. That is the entire point of automation. This further explains the contradictory point in he Tim Lane Kingston speech that wrote off StatsCan concerns for Canadian Bank productivity.

Productivity is a measure of inputs (expenses) and outputs (revenue). Any narrower view does a disservice to the country and the Banks, covering over potential areas for concern. Banks in Canada cover a large geography with relatively small population and while internet adoption is high the related savings in real estate and technology efficiency have yet to be achieved.

Written by Colin Henderson

August 29, 2009 at 17:25

Posted in economy

Tagged with , , ,

%d bloggers like this: