Saturday, 14 February 2009

Pesto - UK institutions are hypocrites

This baby business really isn't leaving much time for blogging (or anything else). But I did spot this piece from Pesto which is worth a read -

Are there greater hypocrites in the world than British institutional investors?
These days, they bellyache about the excessive risks that were being run by big companies in the boom years.
They've put irresistible pressure on banks to raise regulatory capital and on other big companies to pay down debt.
Which is fine and dandy but long overdue - a closing of stable doors after more or less every horse has galloped over the horizon.
Lest we forget, it was these same shareholders who less than two years ago were putting extreme pressure on companies to gear up, to increase borrowings, to take advantage of the availability of cheap plentiful debt for takeovers and to finance buybacks of shares.

If this view of recent history (ie that institutional investors effectively cheered the banks on) is broadly correct then let's hope that the Govt's review of bank governance takes a proper look at these issues. Fund managers get paid a decent wedge to invest our savings effectively and - supposedly - engage with investee companies when things aren't going to plan. If we can't rely on them to do these things properly, what are we actually paying for?

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