11/1/11

Financial crisis comes our way. Does anyone know what's next?

After the failure in October of Dexia, a major European bank, a top leader of MF Global said that other financial service businesses may fail.

Only too true.

Now MF Global itself has been brought down by the European financial crisis.Serious signs of problems appeared last week when MF Global's credit rating was downgraded. The risk taking by MF Global was seen as too great.

Notably, the second major financial services business to fail due to the European financial crisis is North American. So much for all that talk that the US financial institutions were not seriously exposed to the European crisis.

Despite the ongoing crisis in the financial service industry there is still no sign that Ontario, or other Canadian governments are rethinking their move to use the private finance industry to develop public infrastructure projects, like hospitals, through "public private partnerships".

Nevertheless, the troubles in that industry are growing.

The failure of MF Global has caused some panic on Wall Street, with the stock prices of many financial companies getting a sound thrashing. As in the last financial crisis (in 2008), investors are worried about the problems that the financial companies may be facing, particularly their exposure to bad debt.

Late yesterday, the New York Times reported that U.S. Federal regulators have discovered that hundreds of millions of dollars in customer money has gone missing from MF Global in recent days. At this point it remains unclear what has happened. Possibilities apparently include sloppy internal records or something more "intentional and troubling."

The missing money reportedly scuttled a last ditch attempt before the bankruptcy to sell part of MF Global to a rival brokerage firm.

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