Who’s afraid of Timothy Woolf

FACTS

WALL STREET: Sen.Dodd talks of Bank Nationalisation while markets are open: BoA and Citi (>50%  State owned) precipitate. Pension funds relocate from Banks to high tech, in search of dividends.

ITALY

TODAY, AS YOU KNOW:  – 5,8% MIB MILANO, worst in Europe.

STUCTURALLY WEAK, in perspective,  the 2 leading Italian banks (of course in a frame of subCrime and structural crash of the entire Globalisation architecture; but  NOT SO “innocent” Angels. Even “Last Angel” JP Morgan … see below).

INTREPPRETATIVE FRAMEWORK: TODAY’s PIAZZA AFFARI SOCIAL  PSYCHOLOGY

RE-RATING OR LEAP-FROGGING?

1) in all today’s markets, and very neatly in Milan, the so called RE-RATING PRINCIPLE HAS BEEN APPLIED. Although in a rather strange way in Milan, namely in the key last hour,  half-hour and  final (SELECTIVE) sales rush of the market — revealing a bit of wh’appens in the exchanges secret trades and UNOBSERVABLES (single transactions). UniCredit was leading the fall, OK? But, in the last  1/2 hour Intesa SP was loosing  all of a sudden another 6% point, Banco Popolare 4, UniCredit UNBIELIEVABLY stopped falling. On such  a proportion, this is  no RE-RATING at all (as il Sole 24  ore financial correspondent was saying at radio 24, on the contrary: but it is not so easy to give the whole picture in real time: at that moment, I also thought the same way). I’d  better call this: LEAP-FROGGING in a downward pent. NO OTHER ANSWER: someone, either 1 operator at a VLS, very large scale, or more likely 2-3-4 of them at average-to-large scales, were buying at closure prices (€ 0.89). We’ll comment this in a while: so interesting. I didn’t buy, although it’s MY bank.

COOL DON’T PANIC

2) Let us say: in the unprecedented last hour of Piazza Affari (A CONCENTRATED SHRINKING OF ALL  THE BLACK OCTOBER 2008, and just in Milan), some operators were in panic, some were applying RE-RATING (a sort of arbitrage, and hierarchy among leading firms in an industry). Just a few, perhaps a handful were manoeuvring against the main current, as only the most clever and resourceful fishes do – AND THIS HAS STOPPED the UniCredt decline in THAT key hour.

MIRACOLO A MILANO (de Sica).

Who bought UniCredit after 4.oo pm GMT (5 in Italy)? I won’t tell you,  except under torture.

INTERPRETATIONS

TOXIC PRODUCTS IN ITALY  DON’T SPEAK YANKEE OR OXBRIDGE: SPRECHEN ZE DEUTCH?

The Italian Duopoly  (1 bank in many respects),

at repair from any market contendibility (i.e. roughly translating our friend and fine wine connaisseur Baumol’s dis-equations: POTENTIAL competition, since Aristotle was never allowed to make it REAL), control the whole Classic Media, and penetrated deep into the Social Media blogo- and  ludo-spheres. Truth (they’ll never tell you) is

they are by far over-rated, still:

– I don’t analyse here Banco Popolare, except to say: I have a sincere esteem  of his CEO, Mr Fratta Pasini; in Verona there is an important sense of civicness, “coming out” with decision  in the last few weeks and even  more strong in today’s hectic day. For a disastrous process of hyper-concentration and that Surrealistic Theater called “globalisation” by its PRs, we have lost 1/2 banks; better than Naples that lost its only one (worst: the only left large job supplier in the city centre, an infinite  gift to Gomorra from politicians). The population of Verona is with the heart, sincerely on the side of “our” bank (no populism but local culture, the labour and work of a cooperative bank); in a very large majority of the spieaking public opinion, we believe 1) we have the right man, 2) managerial animal spirits are one of the rarest “commodities”; 3) and, to close such an improper sillogism,  we want him to stay there: exactly because a 2nd concentration would be lethal for the quality of  the civic tissue of the city, and CORRECTLY interpreted as a 2nd, historically even more intolerable EXPROPRIATION (David Harvey). Attention, because Verona  insurged with no hope against Napoleon: there are hidden anarchist resources in these quiet communities!! We will pay due scholarly attention to  Pop another time: this Social War will be so long; in the next few days it’ll be Fort Apache every day. Verona as a city,  i.e. a collective “in the good sense” (the one song by Simone Weil in the poem Venise  sauvée, for our sorella maggiore), firmly doesn’t want any Waterloo for Pop. By reasons of ethic-epistheme coherence, this doesn’t imply anyhow Pop is any “Angel” at all, even less that “our” Mr Fratta Pasini Angelically avoided all the traps on his path. On the contrary: i) if you compare him with Mr Profumo below, we love even more Mr Fratta Pasini for his humanity and finiteness: ii) as prof. Roubini’s intransigence taught us, a real picture of the situation is strictly necessary, in order to geo-position correctly  the Pop “barricades” against the Tsunami;  iii) not only some populist “stracciarsi le vesti“, or invoking  (again? nooo!) the closing of all financial markets everywhere, don’t deserve a reply here. Worst: for their stupidity,  they’re Trojan horses, weakening the city’s barricades or trincee, as I am arguing in the local press, with all the  passion and love for “Verona sauvée” which circulate in my blood (genius loci).

– in 1 year Intesa SP  fell from € only to € , while its future is bleakening at the speed of light, and they apparently don’t know well where to start from. Today, it was UniCredit leading the re-rating game, but the East European dependence (making UniCredit a lame duck) is NOT the major issue (by the way, this is an answer to Sebastiano Barison, radio 24, wandering: “Why all this crash, if the majority of their sales is in Italy”. Correct answer: “The majority of the duopolists problems ARE in Italy, actually”). In sum:

You better wait some massive devaluation and recapitalisation, before any BUY.

– On the other side of the SAME COIN, a UniCredit awfully managed by SuperEgo Alessandro Profumowe’ll never forget  the sense of self-sufficiency  stemming from his icy eyes, and his open despise of reality, top clients, whatsoever, worlds. A living Murphy law:  if there was a possible strategic mistake, he went straight into it, without arrière pensées; he’s an Aristotelian top executive: if something is possible, he’ll make it happen. But he’s weak in 9 other items of an interview: human relations; knowledge decision support; macroeconomic environments intuition; medium-long run view; reduction of useless extracosts and hierarchies; scenarios interpretation; selectivity; team work; vision. I would rate him: 1/10.

UniCredit  is surprisingly down only at €o.89 (from € ). Profumo’s another case in such a long gallery, we thought  up forever, exp. after the micro-economic roots here of the “Japanese desease”: pursuing  max growth while blatantly ignoring corporate finance sustainability constraints, and fucking stakeholders’ interests. There is even such a well known, VERY OLD BUT STILL TAUGHT textbook lecture on the “Profumos”: the Marris model. Every graduate student from a decent school, who was taught Industrial Organisation (and not just Games, the real thing as well; Maths and History, as Baumol says) knows  perfectly the problem and  might remember its multiple solutions (a 2 equations nonlinear system, under a linear sustainability constraint).

Add the macro- and geo-economic frame: any dilettante (IFF consulted) would have just stopped “a gamba tesa” Mr Profumo 10 years ago, since at that time most of the Western Economies’ Actives had been by far over-rated for a decade, and you could not reasonably take so many risks together in just one firm; plus the country-specific and the E. European regional ones. The average expected success  Prob. was very close to 0 on an array of scenarios. And the hyperconcentration of the governance, the very bad  use if the fusion (CredIt, CdR) just for Imperially spreading incompetent Roman Bureaucrats  in the Conquered Province (incl. my beautiful Verona) is no excuse: it is part of the problem itself; if the owners accepted it as a solution of their principal\agent bargaining with Mr Profumo, and did not  monitor how the cintarct was executed, they just got what they were looking for. A crazy mono-strategy  (Rome against the Unni at the border of Russian steppe) whose potential failure, unbearable risk and wrong timing was very easily detectable, at just one external independent check, since many years ago.

In sum:

No reason to buy unless strategically, as in the Qaddafi case. In fact, Qaddafi and another M.East SWF are subscribing UniCredit convertible bonds at €3 (versus today’s 0.89 mkt value)

Mr Draghi, much cooler and a plomb than Min. Tremonti is (1st class clever, but badly affected by emotions-driven Prime Minister), is just saying, and he’s correct: devaluate all your toxic rubbish (see below how much “toxic” is a daily changing, metamorphic notion), then recapitalize ASAP.  Please don’t fool yourself (as  yo do fool ourselves: see we’re fed up with Marxism plea) with your “stabiity”: the sooner, the better. Sure, implementing such a strategy meets hard times.

This is why the major National (from December, no more global: see Brad Stetller on the US capital flows) Capitalisms recur to the 4th-5th best, or last solution of Nationalisations. But Italy has its own path-dependence: after Enrico Mattei, Craxi and De Michelis. The beloved Beniamino Andretta (as you already know in Italy, the political “father”  and  mentor of Mr Prodi) fought very hard in the 1980s coalition governments in order to save the public debt from the catastrophe (I remember Gianni De Michelis’ versions of such a War on Budget). Beniamino had all the knowledge and will to fight and  he did it, he gave hard times to the opposite political line (as from my personal, oral evidence), but no real power.

This is history by now, it is written in many books: Craxi could hamper Mr de Mita’s  impressive and farsighted “Revolution” of the DC, aming to move it from a European to an American political science and tradition paradigm of great coalition Party. He was repaid by the traditional DC caucuses (he had saved from Nichilism: the usual grey men like Andreotti, Forlani etc.) with an infinite State budget ceiling (the one Super Ego Profumo was convinced to have, but he never had, as any psychiatrist or cognitive psy woud have told him  before the end of the  1st meeting). The change occasion was postponed to “Mani Pulite” that generated Berlusconi’s business diversification (a much more cautious application of the Marris Model’s normative implications on such strategies; a friend of mine, a top executive of the privatised Dutch Post, told me at the epoch of the “diversification” that he could no more consider Fininvest in the set of potential allies, since the political risk was unmeasurable; in Eindhoven they teach Economics comme il faut).

In sum: Italy will not have, for some and perhaps many generations, the means to nationalize anything,  AND VERY LITTLE ROOM for any other counter-cyclical, industrial or social  policy. The chance stands for “MANY” above since:

a) the Late-comer First Industrialisation happended in Italy, under the  hyper-corrupted Giolitti Period (Early 20th C.), with a German financial system (the Mixed Banks going  bankrupt and natonalised in the early 1930s; CredIt was privatised  not so much before concentrating into UniCredit) and under a German I-O umbrella: these “filière” systemic links always grew upon time (in parallel with not so different political regimes, mutatis mutandis). Germany, our Elder Brother with some paternal rights, was not paying attention to the younger brother in the 1980s, but from now on will never allow for easing his\our public financial constraint. Unless  we  move to Africa.

b) The Italian political system did finally diverge from the 65-years  Nippon stagnation path. But not so much, e.g. in intergenerational policy terms. Unless the PD (dead today, but  this is good news for  potential change) challenges PDL’s  monopoly-and-monopsony, where will change come from? The State debt will keep forever around 100% of a very slow growth, often zero-growth GNP. In a sort of coupled hysteresis.

NOW: A PROVISIONAL, REAL TIME COMMENT TO THE POSSIBLE BEGINNING OF A BANK STOCK  CRASH TODAY, Feb.20. Not just banks: there are a few REASONS WHY WALL STREET’S DJIA MIGHT FALL FROM 7200 TO ABOUT 6000, IN LESS THAN ONE MONTH.

THIS TIME (2008 IS OVER), THERE IS NO SHORTSELLING, JUST LONGSELLING:

1. PENSION FUNDS MOVE WHERE DIVIDENDS ARE HIGHER: WHAT ELSE?THIS EXPLAIN THE DIVERGENCE TIDAY BETWEEN DJIA AND NASDAQ. In the sublime as always, but today really ON THE NEWS Sebastiano Barison’s broadcast (to which I owe 2/3 of this post’s concepts, under my rewriting and idiosyncrasies of course), we coukd listen to a top US exoerte, Mary NN, saying; No way for dividends from US banks. She said “I’d really like JP Morgan [!] to pay them, but they are in the same situation”. Some room only , exceot the zero-option, for a further reduction of already low dividends (Nietzsche and Severino are right; God is dead, and with Him all the Angels = there is no ethernal structure left on this earth. JP Morgan was the last one, still an Angel under the Fed’s protective Holy Spirit,  in mid-March last year …).

2. RE-RATING (DAILY RIGIDITY OF THE SHARE RATIOS ACROSS LEADERS OF THE SAME INDUSTRY);

3. CUMULATIVE FEEDBACKS: NOW, EXPECTED AND ANTICIPATED FROM MEAN TO WALL STREETS;

4. INCREASING UNCERTAINTY UPON KEY PARAMETERS; namely, referring to the various Timothies, if they have an idea (perhaps not): which governance and business models  in the State-owned majority of the much  less global Credit Industry? Sociology taught us: it’ll be a big fight. Yes, but: A) a fight for Governance Rules under which Meta-Rules of the game? B) How  can we repeat  the Lithany  that the late Schumoeter was so wrong, totally wrong? C) The anti – “Capitalism, Socialsm and Denicracy” VUKGTA, cane from vested inteersts: the Workers’ Movement bureaucracies had to dissen’minate the ideiigy of Biig Socialism as a volunatry conquest etc, etc, Bukkshut.

5. EUROPE REGIONAL FACTOR – As Prof. Nouriel Roubini is saying, there is an emerging Regional Factor – the comparative delay in  making effective the anti-Meltdown injections. An antidote for Italy is today’s Bruxelles approval of the “Tremonti Bonds”.

6. NATIONAL NO-DECOUPLING or no-Nation decoupling (particularly in Credit: Brazilian Mean Streets have exhibited heroic decoupling forces in 2008, as  in a Myth, an Amazonica-Nordestina conta of strange, UNIQUE animals). ITALIAN BANKS DIDN’T “TALK ENGLISH” YES. BUT THEY DEUTSCH SPRACHE, and therefore they are full of original (doc) Toxic products (not just the unsellable Italease, a dead walking emanation of Banco Popolare). The counter-information industry (= all the Italian media, except only the one directly owned by the ensemble of all the non-credit Capital: il Sole 24 ore, the Confindustria newspaper – just with forgivable and BONA FIDE mistakes) told us for 18 months that the Italian credit  industry was living in  another planet. We could stand the Tsunamy by .. lending each other within borders, as Barison was mocking today, during the mini-Tsunami. It was  just to suck you your left savings.

7. THE TOXIC DERIVATIVES – Wh’happens here is that there are by now A FEW  GENERATIONS OF TOXIC artificial Beings, like in any Pandemia. After the “doc” subCrime 1st G, they are self-reproducing  in Labs (the Banks’ canteens, in the ususal metaphor about the canteen as a compensation room in between Surface Finance and –  legalised by Clintonians – underground Shadow Finance).

FOR OUR BACKGROUND, FRAME SCENARIOS: GO TO OUR RED!0 bulletin. AS for all the DIJA, to put it simply:

A) market operators are adjusting downward their expectations about the Autumn real economy effects of  the fastly built 4-plans (much more than $3 tr., perhaps 4 tr.?) architecture (Detroit, Paulsson no.3, stimulus and subCrime): Obama was effective, and  paid a minor price (namely a 40 mn cut in education) for getting the 3  GOP senators to vote the stimulus. But financial accelerators and all the rest of the REAL-MONETARY-REAL- etc. TRANMISSIIN SYSTEMS (not nec.  classic ones, with genuine, inherent unpredictability) are at work since midAugust 2007.

Hard to stop a snowball when it is an avalanche.

Then there is the issue whether  all this architecture is adequate. And: what is its paradigm – pay attention to Obama, he pays service t American Idls, but with his friend Cass :

Finally, THE issue – why FDR is far from a model:  either in his times (Amity Shlaes) or in our so different times (my deep convinction, on left libertarian philosophical grounds), or in both of them (my chance to ally with Shlaes); or none (an optimistic, backward-looking and Classic US Liberal thesis). NOTABENE  for sensitive souls – “backward-looking” is NO insult, since we know by now that Progress doesn’t “exist”, it’s just a Narration as another one (someone has to dare to tell it to the US Progressives, before they become the Last Mohicans). This is a straight Popperian issue  about whether, how fast and  how far contemporary cultures are a’changing, within the same regional Civilisation. The most respectable scholars told us they changed a lot, and that if there was a Promise Modernity maintained, it was the  effective mega-trend of Individualism. So, how can you come back with “Fordist” solutions or frames, NOW? I refer here also to Carlota Perez 2002, another way to say:  look forward.

B) experts have, on average: let us say, a bit equivocally, a “median expert” (of the few surviving ones, dynosaurs after the punctuated SubCrime equilibrium) has, for professional habit, talent and  intelligence,   much more deep-and-radical doubts than a median GOP Senator or a Wal Street guy. “We” believe (particularly Michele and I) that all such an Ambaradan might  do some  sound social justice if well managed, and eventually alleviate the short term, but (there is here a Gravity Law I’ll explain another day), ONLY TO MAKE THE MT EVEN WORST than “neutrally”. It has to do with 20 years of OverRated Actives in Western Capitalisms, ONLY sustained,  in increasing disequilibrium paths, by (not artificial, as Paul Krugman once dared to say: he was ALMOST right) Planned Hyper-Growth in East Asia Socialist countries (Jap, Kor, 4 Tigers, Chindia). This is rooted in completely, unprecedently  unsustainabe, by all means and criteria, SOURCE-OF-ALL DISEQUILIBRIA in the 2 PRIMARY MARKETS: LABOUR FORCE, AND  SERVICES drawn from irreproducible NATURAL objects (the Kalecki, and the Georgescu-Roegen contradictions). The gone-crazy Minsky cycle is a MASSIVE SIGNALLING about those 2 contradictions,  that for decades no one wanted, no one was keen to listen to, in a Surrealisitic pièce. But this time … surprise! Godot has arrived. When no one was still waiting.

Here comes the ETHICAL AND POLITICAL RESPONSIBILITY OF TODAY’S INTELLECTUAL: just too heavy! Unbearable! Let us not leave the whole of it to Nouriel Roubini as a Dom Quixote. Or the one Hero that had to sustain the Globe on his shoulders. Prof. Atlas Roubini, a good fella of Bocconi.

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