Does anyone else see how perverted this story is? A company which is 60% owned by the U.S. Treasury, in other words, 60% owned by taxpayers — not voluntary shareholders, but TAXPAYERS, has hired a private investment banking company to take the company public.
That is, to be sold to public stockholders. For a profit. Which is going to be distributed to whom? The government. Who took the company over by edict, essentially by force, ignoring lawfully binding financial contracts in the process. Oh, yes, technically G.M. went through a “banktuptcy,” but when one of the two involved parties is the federal government — the one who makes up the rules of the game — then it isn’t a game anymore. It’s “do it, or else!”
Absolutely unbelievable. This IPO should not be happening. The bailout should not have happened. None of this should have happened. If the company cannot generate a profit in the marketplace, then it should go bankrupt and its resources freed up to be used where they are most valued by the marketplace.
Just to try to help put stock market swings into perspective,consider this:
the 347.8 point fall in the Dow Jones Industrial Average last week, from 10868.12 at the start of the trading day on Thursday, May 6, 2010 to 10520.32 at the close of trading, can be COMPLETELY explained by an increase in the perceived cost of capital from 12% to 12.23%.
do the math. Using the constant dividend growth model, a very simplified model of the market value of equity, or Market Value = Current Dividend/(cost of equity capital – dividend growth rate), and assuming a long-term average cost of U.S. equity capital of 12% and average growth rate of 5%, we find that the opening level of 10868.12 = 760.77/(.12 -.05), and the closing level of 10520.32= 760.77/(.1223 -.05).
I think it is entirely possible that the chaos in Greece and surrounding nations, and the interconnections between worldwide supplies of liquidity and financial capital, that an increase in the perceived risk and uncertainty of the returns to equity from 12% per year to 12.23% per year makes perfect sense.
The market’s are working. Market participants, from the individual investor using on-line trading at 2:00 in the morning from their living room to the most sophisticated computerized large-scale institutional trader, understands that a borrower’s ability to pay back its investors depends on the real productivity and growth of private industry, whether the borrower is a company or a country.
The art of saying something and meaning something totally different.
I must confess to being a bit fed up with Greece.
In Anglo-Saxon language their attitude used to be called “taking the piss“. Today’s “funny” (or if preferred take your pick from: tragic, surreal, ludicrous, ridiculous,bizarre, insane or indeed all of these at once) is something the Greek Prime Minister said. Admittedly he said it in February and I’ve only just picked up on it.
‘We are a country which cannot alone deal with the speculation. So this has become a European problem, because if we do have a major problem, this could create a contagion for other countries too who are not to blame.’
Brilliant and I especially love the use of the word “speculation”.
This makes it seem as if it isn’t Greece’s fault at all; it’s all down to those nasty fat people in suits and sunglasses, the evil international financial mafia seeking to destabilize his country.
Then there is the “if” word. Now normally this is associated with a condition, but anyone who even in February thought that there was any conditionality involved in Greece’s meltdown must have been looney, or perhaps the Head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) who said this on March 8th:
Greece will be able to deal with its own financial problems without needing a bailout, the head of the International Monetary Fund said today.
IMF managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said that Greece’s debt mountain is unlikely to spread to other eurozone countries with high levels of public debt.
And Mr Strauss-Kahn dismissed market speculation of potential default by other heavily indebted eurozone countries such as Portugal, Spain or Ireland as scare-mongering.
Yes, this is the same DSK who is paid a vast salary and expenses and could be the next President of the EU.Of course he could have been lying to try to restore “confidence”. However, lying is lying, for whatever reason. Or he could have just been humungously wrong.
That’s the trouble with our leaders and financial experts these days; you never know whether they’re lying or just stupid; it’s usually one or the other and sometimes of course both.
And Papandreou’s quote continues: ” a contagion for other countries“. Indeed, Mr P. And what do we do with a “contagion” in the body? We destroy it and get rid of it …. and finally we have “other countries too who are not to blame“.
AHA! At last! Proof that my old Mum in the UK on her measly pension is not to blame. Thanks Mr P. At last some recognition fo the truth. Let’s have a bit more of that ….
As for the merits of Greece’s plea for funds, you only have to read this devastating article to feel your flabber gasting to breaking point.
No wonder the Germans are increasingly threatening to dump Greece, and so they should. Not the German government (all governments seem currently to lack the guts to do anything really necessary or serious).
No, this time it’s an economics professor threatening to take the EU to court if they allow this blatantly EU-illegal bailout, and public opinion is increasingly on his side.
It is a horrendous mess, but the only solution is for Greece to leave the euro. Bailing them out is a black hole. Does anyone in their right mind think the Greeks can really change their traditional practices and suddenly become honest, thrifty and hard-working?
Well, the answer is probably “Yes”, but then cloud-cuckoo land is becoming seriously over-populated.
Which reminds me, I must get back to the British General Election Campaign ……
Well, Ancient Greeks used to have tragedies; modern ones are better at farce, and so the “Shall we bung Greece billions of taxpayers’ money or not” farce rumbles on ….
It seems that the rising cost of borrowing for Greeks plus various warnings from people like George Soros about the possible collapse of the euro have pushed the EU (and in particular Germany) down a path they would have preferred not to go.
A vast loan at 5% has been offered, which is substantially below what the Greeks were having to pay before. So, crisis over? They can sleep well in Brussels again?
Errrmmmm …… hands up those who think Greece will ever be able to repay this money? Oh, at the time of writing (Monday 12th April) they haven’t yet ASKED for the money …. it really IS a farce rather than a tragedy, isn’t it?
Is there anyone on the planet who thinks they WON’T have to take the money? That they can get out of this mess WITHOUT it? No, nobody, except perhaps (as I speak) the Greek government itself. Well, they got the country into this humungous shambles in the first place so you’d hardly expect them to know what to do about getting out of it. This of course is in sharp contrast to the British government, which claims it is the ONLY party that can get out of the mess it itself created.
The reaction of German and British taxpayers to the bailing out of Greece (even though technically speaking it hasn’t yet occurred) is not yet clear ……. Neither is that of the other group of PIGS (Portugal, Italy and Spain). Incidentally, I am not sure how close the UK is to becoming a member of this rather grisly club, but as the country is still borrowing vast amounts at every tick of the clock it can’t be far off qualifying for full membership.
I did see a calculation this morning that the British taxpayer (I refuse to say government; all they do is pass on OUR money) will have to cough up around £600 million to help save Greece.
Of course, in return the Greeks will immediately start working as long and hard as we do, collecting taxes as efficiently as we do and avoiding corruption as well as we do. Yes, I am reporting from cloud-cuckoo land.
Well, we seem to be around Act III, Scene I in this farce, so there is plenty more entertainment yet to come, no doubt some of it tragic.
Today’s quiz question: What have lazy, corrupt, inefficient little countries in common with large, obscenely-rich banks? Answer -> They can’t be allowed to fail and some poor, hard-working mutt somewhere is going to have to bail them out, not that he’ll have any choice in the matter, this all being decided by the Great and Good (and Rich) in some posh office somewhere far away.
What you once couldn’t have made up now seems an almost daily occurrence.
Germany is baulking at a Greek bailout ….. 84% of the people are opposed according to polls, and Frau Merkel is decidedly lukewarm. This is no surprise; the Germans are pretty commonsensical after all. They are going through a “spot of fiscal turbulence” themselves and hardly in a mood to bail out a feckless, tax-avoiding, economic basket case on the flaky south of the Brusselian Empire ….
Instead, they have come up with a cunning plan; the Greeks should sell some of their islands. I can see the attraction; at knock-down prices, no doubt a good many Germans themselves – short of coast in the homeland – would be only too keen to snap up a firesale bargain.
But if I were Greek I would beware of Germans with cunning ideas. After all, it could be the islands today and the Acropolis tomorrow. Selling capital assets to clear debts built up on a binge of tax-avoided short-term consumption is hardly the long-term solution, and it is remarkable how we humans do tend to go for short-term, quick-fix solutions (see my post on the Fat Pill) . Of course, in Europe at least the Sun (can I capitalize it? It is after all the source of my existence …) plays a large part here, for the further south you go the hotter it is, the more corruptly-shambolic the taxation system, the flakier the economy and the higher the debt. Of course, Britain is an exception to the rule, since it must be put in the Mediterranean basket of cases even though it is far up in the north. Still, Britain was ever exceptional ….
No, I would advise the Greeks to hang on to their islands for a rainy day and do the right thing, which is take the medicine, invest long-term rather than on frivolous consumption and in general live within your means. Selling the islands is desperation stakes, even if the ultimate solution would be to sell the whole country to the Germans and let them sort out the mess, and – more to the point – pay for it all as they did with East Germany.
But though this is hardly a laughing matter – especially for innocent Greeks (I assume there are some!!) – I did have a chuckle yesterday when I saw the headline.
“Greece calls for EU to play its part.” – in other words, bung in billions to bail them out. I am I confess mystified to understand exactly why the thrifty Danes should play their part in bailing out the hapless Greeks, though I suppose we do still owe them for democracy and stuff. When does the statute of limitations run out on this?
Well, good luck Greece, but don’t count on my pfennig, and don’t sell the islands either!