The author has been described by News Ltd as an "iconoclast", "Svengali", a pollie's "economist muse", and "pungently accurate". Fairfax says he is a "Renaissance man" and "one of Australia’s most respected analysts." Stephen Koukoulas concludes that he is "85% right", and "would make a great Opposition leader." Terry McCrann claims the author thinks "‘nuance’ is a trendy village in the south of France", but can be "scintillating" when he thinks "clearly". The ACTU reckons he’s "an enigma wrapped in a Bloomberg terminal, wrapped in some apparently well-honed abs."

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Lending overseas generates $26 billion in losses

According to the banking industry's "bible", Banking Day:

"The accumulated losses of all Australian financiers from their endeavours into foreign markets was A$26 billion at June 2010, a new analysis by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows.

The estimate features in a new statistical series, Australian Outward Finance and Insurance Foreign Affiliate Trade, published by the ABS yesterday. The survey covers the 2009/10 financial year and there is no historical data.

The data is also very high level; covering three industry groups of finance, insurance and superannuation, and also auxiliary finance and insurance services.

It may be difficult to link the aggregate industry data with the affairs of any one class of financial institution, such as banks, let alone the known efforts – many of them, judging by this survey, pretty lacklustre – of any single financial institution.

The ABS put the level of equity in offshore affiliates of Australian-based finance and insurance firms at $75.5 billion. For more narrowly defined finance firms, the level of offshore investment is $53 billion.

Investment in named countries produced accumulated losses across the whole of the finance sector of $8 billion in the UK and $2.6 billion in the United States.

Accumulated losses in the Asia Pacific region are put at $14.6 billion. Losses in named countries in Asia are minor, where listed, though for Hong Kong and Japan the data is “not published”.

Financiers and insurers earned a collective offshore profit in the 2010 financial year of $6.5 billion, the ABS said, though half of this was earned in New Zealand.

Profits from China in the last year were only $1 million, with a further $720 million in profits earned from businesses based in Hong Kong.

One bank just beginning its journey of investment in China is National Australia Bank, which yesterday said it had received clearance from China's Banking Regulatory Commission to open its first branch in the country, in Shanghai."