Category Archives: Finance sector

Institutions seldom die

Recent news that the EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development) is thinking of lending to Sub-Saharan Africa shows how institutions evolve to find new goals rather than quietly close down. The EBRD, which I believe enjoys a high reputation in the development finance world, is a multilateral financial institution set up in 1991 to… Continue Reading

Is the US yield curve close to inverting – and does this mean a recession?

We have had a long period of economic growth since the great recession of 2009, leading many market commentators to fear a recession is overdue. One fairly reliable indicator of coming recession is an inverted yield curve – meaning that short term interest rates are above long term rates. This looks increasingly possible but is… Continue Reading

What’s the future for peer-to-peer lending?

P2P (peer-to-peer) lending is the biggest and most developed form of alternative finance. But does it have any enduring value to add in the financial system? * P2P lending platforms have sprung up in many countries since the global financial crisis, particularly in China, where they are now in crisis. According to research from the Cambridge… Continue Reading

Financial innovations behind the US real estate boom and bust of 2002-2008

As we commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, which marked the point where the US financial system truly moved into crisis, it’s worth reviewing the innovations that led to the real estate bubble that lay behind Lehman’s (and Bear Stearns’) problems: the separation of mortgage origination from who owned the debt; securitisation;… Continue Reading

Three interesting facts about Chinese monetary history

Former IMF Chief Economist Eswar Prasad’s excellent book Gaining Currency – The Rise of The Renminbi starts with a fascinating chapter on China’s monetary history, the longest by far of any country. The book is ultimately a persuasive answer to the question, will the RMB become a leading international currency? His answer is yes, but only… Continue Reading

When bank notes were fun

The ever fascinating blog of the New York Fed tells us that, among the many different types of bank note issued by around 1,600 US banks during the nineteenth century, some included pictures of Santa Claus. Only in 1861 did the Federal Government start issuing paper currency; from that point the Treasury had a monopoly on note… Continue Reading

Changes in the Federal Reserve’s measurement of short term interest rates

The Federal Reserve, the US central bank, is making some changes to the measurement and monitoring of the short term interest rate between banks, which is its key target for monetary policy, * Most central banks have goals such as low inflation and high employment. After experimenting over the years with tools to achieve these goals, most… Continue Reading

Global foreign reserves are now falling

The foreign exchange reserves held by governments, having risen for over a decade, have recently fallen. This is mainly because they are being used, as intended, to protect against turbulence in financial markets that would otherwise hurt the developing economies. * Foreign reserves are assets held by governments as a safety net against abrupt changes… Continue Reading

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