Smoke Signals

smokesigslogoDutch Auction. The Netherlands having just nationalised the fourth-largest Dutch mortgage lender SNS minutes before it imploded, there is word from mainland Europe that this could be the start of something big.

French lender Credit Agricole announced a whopping impairment this morning, not long after Deutsche Bank suffered a  €2.2bn quarterly loss yesterday. CreditAg says it’ll write down the value of goodwill on its balance sheet by €2.7bn.

Much of this vindicates the predictions of distinguished author Gary B. Gorton. He argues that most post-mortems of the recent financial crisis failed to recognise the culpability of what he calls “the shadow banking system”, and new-fangled forms of debt.

Ace US trader Butch writes on this one, “If the Dutch had had derivatives and the ECB back during Tulip mania, no losses would have been realized, and we would still be kicking the can”. Quite so.

Scamming the DWP. There may yet be life after all among the mainstream meeja hacks. Word reaches Slogger’s Roost that the private sector’s outrageous ripping off of the taxpayers’ attempts to get desperate people back to work is to be full-frontally exposed by a major media provider this weekend. Think McAlpine victims, and you shall not be far wrong.

La Dolce Vita. The Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS) scandal will go beyond Italian affairs in the end. With a general election only weeks away, Silvio Berlusconi looks like being the main winner from the political spat. The former prime minister’s camp has attacked Pierluigi Bersani’s Democratic Party, which is leading in the opinion polls, for being close to Monte dei Paschi (MPS). It has also criticised Mario Monti, the current prime minister, who agreed to increase MPS’s bailout to 3.9 billion euros.

But disturbingly under the spotlight is Mario Draghi, if only because the ECB president ran the Bank of Italy when MPS was getting into such a mess. Giulio Tremonti, who was finance minister in Berlusconi’s last government, tweeted that it was “stupefying” that Draghi had failed to discover or prevent the complex transactions.

Earlier at The Slog: Y oh y oh y oh y in the mass media