A new story from Monocle 24: The Globalist


Com. 8 20 in Zürich, which is where we have now for today's paper review on Monaco radio, I'm delighted to say that joining us from our studio 90 is Florian ugly senior associate at four House, the Swiss foreign policy think tank, a very good morning to Florian. How Zürich looking this morning. Good morning, looking absolutely fabulous. So you see the snowy mountains in the distance because it is very cold and very wintry, but brisk morning, blue skies. Seems I can winter. Rub it in, thanks, Laurie. It's just gray in London. There's no great surprise. In your glorious setting, what have you spotted that you think we need to know about in the papers today? So I'd like to talk quickly about banks since Katie Swiss has gone down or officially emerged with UBS. There has been a lot of talk, of course, around parade plots. And one of the stories that is front and center, and also in the Financial Times, is that the Swiss government has decided to cut the bonus of Credit Suisse. Courtesy was manager is basically about 50 to 60 million. Which is actually quite ridiculous because it's only 10% of outstanding bonuses and at the same time we read a story in the financial time that hedge funds made 7 billion short selling stocks from banks, including Credit Suisse. So it just shows how little the public can do one stay safe to these banks. And what happens next is there's a great quote in this piece, the liquidity crisis is probably over, but the solvency crisis is about to begin. That's what rumors are at Wall Street. So the liquidity crisis is if a bank basically is solvent. So they have enough capital. But it's just that people basically throw their money too quickly so that they have illiquid assets, but they need liquidity to pay out their clients. So that's what's typically referred to as a bank run and where the Central Bank can then help. And it's in a sense a temporary issue because there is no structural problem. But if there is a solvency problem, that means there is a structural problem. So that means that banks are actually not solvent. So there is a structural business model problem behind what they do. And so there is suspicion that some of the banks might actually run into such solvency issues and that's also why this Financial Times article talks about the short selling positions. There is still there. So for some banks like Deutsche Bank, they have not really gone down or first republic. I think if I remember correctly, 20 to 30% of total stocks are shortened, that means that Wall Street analysts bet on those stocks going down and they bet on this because they think that there is a structural and underlying problem there and it's not just a temporary one. So it shows again, you know what, just after 20, 2008. So that's just 14 years ago. And we're kind of in a similar situation where we have to bail out banks. And it just shows that the regulation in the financial sector. I mean, in my opinion, is not strict enough, and it's not been implemented accordingly. And in that context, when you talk about regulation and banks being bailed out, when we look at the ends at Z article today that you mentioned about the reduction of bonuses of the senior credits executives. It says high wages and bonuses, but still taking advantage of state aids. This combination brings a people's soul to a boil. It talks an awful lot about how the government. The federal council are all trying to navigate their way through this enormous change in the Swiss banking sector. But there is that push and pull, isn't there that you have the authorities, but then you also have the private banks as well. I mean, look, it just shows it shows the problem of it. So what politicians are trying to do or the federal council together with them is to somehow bring out the message. Hey, we are on top of this story. We can also decide and it's not that we just have to do things because we are forced by what happens economically. But that's why I wanted to give you the numbers because it shows you this is purely symbolic. I mean, 50 million, it's 10% of outstanding bonuses. And these bonuses used to be much more because in shares. And so there used to be worth much, much more. So it's actually much less than 10%, so it's absolutely minuscule. Compared to the 200 billion guarantees that the Swiss government offered to credit Swiss. And they had to act purely because this bank is too large and because letting the investment arm of Credit Suisse collapse would have angered UK and U.S. authorities so much. So there was a lot of international back channeling and pressure. And somehow the Swiss federal council is just trying to publicly maintain that story that they have an edge in this that they can decide and then they actually have some decision room, which, in fact, I think there is extremely little of that. But they're desperately trying to get the story out that it's not the public just bailing out these banks because of the sheer size of Credit Suisse and because of international pressure. But it is actually the public also having some agency. But the underlying problem here, I think, is really that the public doesn't have this agency and that we really should have a debate about why this is the case and how we can change it. Unfortunately, debate in parliament shows a bit the other way so there was an extraordinary debate on this issue in the key commission of the Swiss parliament. Two hours were scheduled for four different topics and the banks of greatest bailout got about 25 or 30 minutes of discussion time according to the Swiss watch because you divide the time equally, which is absolutely ridiculous.

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