Tuesday, 19 August 2008
Credit market turmoil has driven the U.S. into a recession and may topple some of the nation's biggest banks, said Kenneth Rogoff, former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund
This is the latest news to hit the US markets. Of course Bear Stearns has already been palmed off to JP Morgan. In the UK we have had Northern Rock and Alliance and Leicester has an emergency sale of itself to Santander to prevent collapse - just today it has acknowleged that in effect it cannot survive if the sale falls through.
Bradford and Bingley is also only fit to prepare itself for a fire sale.
This is not a good run of events and clearly the weak are already fallen. Now what is being discussed is some of the larger beasts also succumbing to what is effectively financial gout; Bursting with debt and greed they can only stagger to a final fall.
In the US Lehman Brothers was considered just a few weeks ago as in a serious state. It has just put up a big part of its business for sale, scotching the current view that the driving down of its share price was all just speculation.
In the UK the main banks have fallen again today - but could one of the big ones collapse? It is still a distinct possibility. With no more access to the capital markets, the government spent out on Northern Wreck and high costs for bond issuance the banks are very much stuck.
HBOS, RBS, Barclays and Lloyds in that order are under threat. HSBC seems too big to fail but its frankly unfeasible scale of CDO's and other toxic mess could even hurt the biggest beast of all.
But will it happen - I am not sure. What I can see is a third leg to the credit crunch, with a consequent retrenchment from the gains of recent months and so another 'test' for our financial institutions. More will be found wanting if this occurs.