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Mar 12 / Jonathan

Will Banks Start to Walk Their Talk? Don’t Hold Your Breath (Mark to Market Edition)

Are the big banks out of the woods? Yves Smith is properly skeptical. RTWT.

Will Banks Start to Walk Their Talk? Don’t Hold Your Breath (Mark to Market Edition)

The new meme from big embattled banks, starting with Citigroup’s leaked Pandit memo yesterday and Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis’ declaration that the bank will be profitable in 2009, is that things will be OK and all this talk of nationalization is unwarranted.

I’ll reserve judgement till the fat lady sings. The record of financial crises suggests the housing market has lower to go (which is consistent with the notion that prices need to revert to historical norms relative to incomes and rents) and that unemployment is far from its peak (the Reinhart/Rogoff historical comparisions suggest US unemployment will reach 12%).

If the banks were really doing as well as their PR suggests, they would not need to use the to be launched public private garbage barge operation. Do you think there is a snowball’s chance in hell of that happening?

We are going straight down the Japan path: propping up banks rather than forcing them to recognize losses, and providing the same sort of accommodative accounting to boot. All it did for them was kick the can down the road a few years, at considerable cost to its society. But that’s what you get when the executive and regulators are unwilling to challenge the primacy of the banking class.