Jeff Devine

I only tell you what to do because I love you

Catching Up on Financial News

During my wonderful Thanksgiving Break from reality, I’ve tried to catchup on both my RSS feeds and good ol’ fashioned newspapers. I’ve read a few interesting points and infuriating passages in the Financial Times:

Now that Hank Paulson is changing direction for a 3rd time on the bailout, he has admitted his latest plan is far from perfect and made the classic gem of a statement:

“I wish, and I know everyone wishes, that one piece of legislation, a bill, would suddenly be passed and then magically the credit markets would unfreeze…”

Good to know we all have Thanksgiving Wishes. Granted he dismissed this wish as “naïve” making you wonder why he uttered it at all… has Timothy Geithner started yet?

On a more positive note, PR consultants are urging CEOs to learn from Obama:

“In a briefing note issued this week, Weber Shandwick told clients that Barack Obama’s digitally savvy campaign had shown a “new way of communicating with and activating key audiences”, and many of its tactics could be applied to their own communications with staff and customers. The campaign’s speed at responding to conversations on Twitter, its use of rapid-rebuttal microsites such as and its deployment of an array of iPhone applications, online videos and search advertising tactics made it a model of modern marketing, the PR firm argued.”

This article was followed by a disturbingly brazen full-page add by Citi Bank titled, “Proud History, Secure Future.” The text reads:

 ”In the last few days, the world’s financial markets have experienced unprecedented volatility.”

In the last few days? Really? I’m going to guess that no one saw this coming?

“Vikram runs this company on a worst reasonable case for this economy”

Clearly this is why you needed $20 billion to keep Citi from collapsing. Unmitigated audacity comes to mind. 

This editorial offered advice to Obama to make a stimulus package that works:

“Transferring money from the federal government to states would be an effective way to avoid states having to cut spending to balance their books. On the federal level, payroll taxes could be lowered helping those with lower incomes, and tax rebates in general would be a quick way to provide support. But in the absence of increasing demand from abroad, such short-term measures may not be enough. US consumers have lived beyond their means and will probably save a lot more over years to come. This demand vacuum may have to be at least partly filled by the state. The government should therefore consider bringing investment forward, for example in infrastructure, education and healthcare. Much of the record deficits over the next years will be structural. Besides identifying measures that stand the best chance of leading the way to recovery, being clear about how these will be financed in the long run is crucial.”

And while controversial, I completely agree with making the consumer end of any stimulus package available only via debit cards:

“Rather than distributing the stimulus payments by cheque as with the Bush plan, a new approach would be based on the issuance of debit cards. Individual card values could be varied if and as desired (higher income households could be excluded or card value adjusted by household income, favouring lower income recipients), but the key features would be these: the cards would not be redeemable for cash and could not be deposited to a bank or other investment account; they could not be used to pay debts or back bills (and would not be redeemable for such purposes); and they would be good for only a limited period (say, 60 days) to encourage prompt use, maximising short-term stimulative impact.”