Good morning

The headlines:
  1. Deutsche Bank quarterly profits are down by 35%. Part of the loss (about a third) was a result of DB writing off its investment in Actavis; the sale of which was announced yesterday. Awkward on the face of it. Link: Deutsche Bank announces quarterlies.
  2. I’m enjoying watching the Catholic criticism of US House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan. Mr Ryan has been lauding his catholic upbringing’s influence on the current budget plan, which includes and/or consists mostly of federal cuts in aid to the poor. So fewer food stamps. Mr Ryan’s position: stopping food stamps to the poor is in line with Catholic social doctrine, as best as he can make of it. The Catholic bishops? They got involved and called for a boycott in a not-very-separation-of-Church-and-State kind of way. I suppose Ryan started it. But nevertheless, I see Ryan’s point. If a government supports the poor to the point of bankruptcy, that’s not really long-term assistance now, is it? Personally, I just think that Paul Ryan’s publicist said let’s try and spin this to avoid all manner of hellish headlines. Firstly: fail. Secondly: damned if he did and damned if he didn’t. Sounds awfully like old-time religion to me. Link: Catholic guilt trip.
  3. Metlife, the US’s largest life insurer, will no longer be granting reverse mortgages. I keep harping on about the repeal of the Glass-Steagal – but here is definitely another instance worth-mentioning it. A reverse-mortgage allows a pensioner to take a lump-sum out against their house – to be paid back in the event of their death by the sale of the house. In America – the land of the rapidly aging. HOW can you tell me that’s not going to cause a rapid/rabid/rancid collapse in the housing market? If you gave me the option of taking out money against a piece of property that I’ll never have to pay back (I’m sorry, but once I die, all bets are off), hell yes I’m going to do it. And all of my friends. And then we’ll all grow old together under a Tuscan sun, happily buying medication on Obama, eventually passing peacefully into oblivion where we spend an eternity paying for our worldly extravagances together in purgatory. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, there’s an insurer pulling out hair, because all he has is millions of ranches to sell and no one to buy them. Because his target market is either dead or disinherited. So yes, Metlife. Let’s hope you stopped soon enough. Link: Insurer stops playing at banking.
  4. Another Goldman Sachs employee is under investigation for insider-trading. He’s apparently connected to Raj Rajaratnam. That said, “being connected” is key when you want to trade on the inside. I’m sure that Raj knew everyone. Link: The Rule of Raj.
  5. The Fed has sold $7.5 billion worth of CDOs from the AIG rescue to Barclays and Deutsche Bank. The CDOs were linked to commercial mortgages – which I guess are better than residential ones; as commercial property is generally (and I do mean only “generally”) better thought out than the home of the average American dreaming of living his American dream. Either way, the dream has a naively happy ending – the US Taxpayer makes a profit (selling the CDO book for more than the Treasury paid for it), and the banks get to make a profit (because they can play with it). Everybody wins. Link: The Return of the Beast.
  6. Charles Taylor has been found guilty of Sierra Leone war crimes. It needed to be mentioned. Link: Taylor found guilty.
  7. Premier Wen Jiabao announces that China is ready to offer $10 billion in infrastructure funding to Eastern and Central Europe. Link: China offers aid to Europe.
  8. And the African Business News in brief. Link: ABN Briefs. The highlights:
    • Ghana’s fuel refinery has closed, after the government announced that it requires modifications before it can distill Ghanian oil.
    • Nigeria has sold 90 billion naira worth of debt paper at its regular auction.
    • Kenya’s largest bank by assets, Kenya Commercial Bank, has reported a 35% increase in quarterly profits.
That’s all for now.
Have a good day.