Monday, July 13, 2009

Watershed week for financial system?

I'll take a page from Paul Krugman's book in not making a prediction here, just raising the question. About a year ago (I think in June 2008) Krugman hedged his forecast of a global economic catastrophe by presenting it in the form of a fictional column from one year in the future. It turned out that he was correct, but this sort of thing is hard to call because of the many ways to forestall the inevitable.

I have no doubt that things will get worse, not better, based on economic fundamentals, but the question is always "when?".

This morning on NPR's "Marketplace Morning Report" they pointed out that earnings reports for the financial institutions were coming out this week, and also ran an interesting story about CIT Group, a major player in the revolving credit market, that keeps places like Duncan Donuts running from month to month. The government was in talks with CIT Group over the weekend (sound familiar?) because of a feared run on their capital.

If the earnings reports reveal anything close to the truth then the illusion that we have a sound banking system should be shattered once and for all. The CIT group problem could have an immediate effect on the real economy, the part that people like you and I will notice.

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