Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Bits and bobs

1. More on Madoff. UKIP blogger Tim Worstall argues that this is not really a hedge fund issue, which is a valid point even if his supporting evidence (a very short post by Brad Delong) isn't up to much. Richard Murphy disagrees.

Meanwhile David Aaronovitch wades in:
By last week I was ready for Madoff. I'd read J.K. Galbraith's reissued 1950s classic The Great Crash 1929 and taken delivery of his point that, in boom times, the rate of embezzlement grows because the promised rewards (Nicola Horlick, please note) don't seem as absurd as they actually are, and the rate of discovery falls off.

There is, as Galbraith noted, a strange period between commission and revelation, when the embezzler is richer yet the victim feels no poorer, so that, in this time, there is “a net increase in psychic wealth”. It's often only when depression knocks and money gets tight that Wile E. Coyote realises that he has run out of road and sees the abyss beneath him.

2. More on public sector pensions. GMB and TUC responses to the CBI call for a review.

3. Foot-in-mouth disease hits Tory blogger.


CharlieMcMenamin said...

The Right seem to be trying to draw a new line in the ideological sand in terms of Madoff not running a hedge fund. 'A Very British Dude'(sic)also says Madoff wasn't running one, and argues that no hedge fund has gone bust during this crisis because the hedge fund traders put 50% of their wealth into them and thus don't need regulation. http://brackenworld.blogspot.com/2008/12/those-dastardly-hedge-funds-need-more.html

That little phrase 'during this crisis' is doing a lot of work though - remember LTCM in 1998? & I do think the Dude may yet regret not writing 'no hedge fund has collapse yet in the current crisis...'.

It's pointless to quibble over definitions of what a hedge fund might be: the point is that relatively unregulated financial actors can bring huge trouble down on the shoulders of the rest of the community. So they need regulating from a social risk management point of view even if they do actually invest their own wealth and aren't all Madoff in miniature.

Tom P said...

I think I'm somewhere in the middle here. It's a reasonable point that this is a simple fraud rather than something inherent in hedge funds, but this doesn't mean that hedge funds don't need better regulation.

I think you're right about hedge funds in general. I reckon lots of them will go to the wall.

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