US to follow UK in buying bank shares

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Winston Churchill, a long-standing friend of the USA, once irritably but acutely observed that ‘one can rely on America to get to the right conclusion, when all other options have been exhausted’. So, hopefully, it will prove with the financial crisis.

Tonight, Bloomberg and the New York Times are reporting that US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson ‘is planning to buy stakes in a wide range of banks within weeks, as the credit freeze increasingly threatens to tip the U.S. economy into a deep recession’. The cost being talked is $200 – 300bn.

This has to be the right thing to do, via the purchase of preference shares. But the sum talked sounds too little to the blog. After all, the UK government is investing at least $87bn in its bank purchases, in a much smaller economy.

The purchases also need to happen much more quickly than ‘within weeks’. The US$ has just slipped below ¥100: $1, and as the blog noted last November, any sustained fall below this level ‘would take us into uncharted water’, and create the potential to add a currency crisis to the banking and housing crises already underway.

About Paul Hodges

Paul Hodges is Chairman of International eChem, trusted commercial advisers to the global chemical industry. The aim of this blog is to share ideas about the influences that may shape the chemical industry over the next 12 – 18 months. It will try to look behind today’s headlines, to understand what may happen next in important issues such oil prices, economic growth and the environment. We may also have some fun, investigating a few of the more offbeat events that take place from time to time. Please do join me and share your thoughts. Between us, we will hopefully develop useful insights into the key factors that will drive the industry's future performance.

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