Weil on Finance: Europe Wakes Up, Taibbi Roars
Happy Monday, View fans. Here is some of what I’ve been reading this morning.
Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, the world’s oldest bank, said it suspended interest payments on three bond issues. Bloomberg News said the move came “after European authorities demanded bondholders contribute to the restructuring of the bailed out Italian lender.” Can’t help but wonder: Now that the German elections are done, what other European banking scandals and sovereign-debt blowups might surface? There’s no way Europe’s banks have cured themselves. And we’ve been hearing the same refrain all year from European Union officials that nothing much could get done until Angela Merkel was re-elected. The Guardian had an article over the weekend on this same subject: “This year summer has been extended, and Europe's leaders seem to be hanging around even longer before doing anything meaningful. They have been waiting, of course, for the German elections today before springing into action with long wish lists for the reinvention of Europe.”
Maybe our grandkids will succeed in closing Fannie and Freddie
Nick Timiraos of the Wall Street Journal has some good, pithy lines in this piece on the outlook for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. “The firms are proving to be as difficult to shut down as the U.S.-operated Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba,” he writes. “The real debate boils down to this: Should all Americans continue to have relatively easy access to the pre-payable, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage?” The answer probably is no, but good luck getting most Americans or members of Congress to agree.
How to lose $46 million on a single house
And you thought the losses in the U.S. housing crash were bad? The Irish Times had an article over the weekend about a property developer, David Arnold, who lost 34 million euros ($46 million) buying a single residence in the Dublin suburb of Foxrock in July 2006 with a mortgage from the Bank of Ireland. He once planned to demolish the home and turn the grounds into a residential-and-retail complex. But that’s not happening. So now the property is back on the market.
Matt Taibbi is back on the vampire-squid beat
It seems a glowing Forbes column about Goldman Sachs really ticked him off. Great rant. Funny stuff.
What a messy desk says about you
It isn't all bad. It could mean you’re creative. But you might die sooner, according to those crazy scientists and their “findings.” The New York Times Magazine had a fun write-up over the weekend.
(Jonathan Weil is a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow him on Twitter.)