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Anything too big to fail should be publicly owned

Written By: - Date published: 8:30 am, August 31st, 2010 - 96 comments
Categories: business, capitalism, Economy - Tags:

South Canterbury Finance is on the brink of collapse. The plan appears to be for the government to purchase the bad loans from the company at twice their book value, giving SCF the cash it needs to get back on its feet. That’s a dumb idea. The owners of SCF have taken huge profits in the good times, they can’t be allowed to pass their losses on to the rest of us now and continue as if nothing happened.

If an institution is too big to fail and gets a bailout when it gets in trouble, it means the owners can never lose – they get the profits in the good times and in the bad times the taxpayer absorbs the losses. That’s not the way capitalism is ‘supposed’ to work, but all too often that’s exactly how it works – privatise the gains, socialise the losses as the rich milk the rest of us.

That’s not right. If something is so crucial that the government must ensure it remains a going concern then it should be publicly owned, so that the taxpayer gets the profits along with the losses, rather than stumping up for the bill after the rich men’s party turns sour.

So, my proposal is that, if the government decides it can’t afford the cost in guaranteed deposits and the economic ramifications of SCF toppling over, it buys it lock stock and barrel, not the just the crappy parts. The company still has a lot of value. If the government wants to save SCF, it should incorporate its business it into Kiwibank.

If the government won’t do that, there shouldn’t be any bailout. The money to keep the company afloat should come from the people who have made fortunes out of SCT over the years, not the rest of us.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Jenny has written a guest post with another angle on this affair:

While National MPs claim there is no money to pay teachers or doctors, the government prepares to hand over, up to half a billion dollars to private investors who bet on a lemon.

The lie is, that this must be done for the good of the economy.

It didn’t make any difference in the US and it won’t make any difference here.

Sinking deeper and deeper into recession, the American example shows that the idea that private sector bailouts are good for the economy is pure unadulterated bull. The only ones to benefit from public bailouts of private investment companies and bad banks, were private investment companies and bad banks, their overpaid managers and fat cat shareholders.

The US government and the country at large were impoverished by multi- billion dollar bailouts of bad banks and investment companies.

While wealthy investors were looked after, tens of thousands of average Americans who had their jobs and homes taken from them, due to the malfeasance of these same finance companies and bad banks – were shown no such largesse.

Why can’t New Zealand learn from what has what happened overseas?

The truth is that saving the economy is not what private sector bail outs are all about.

Taking care of the well off, at the expense of everyone and everything else, including the economy, is what it, is all about.

Yesterday, Liam Dann the Herald’s business editor, described how the National government has deemed Alan Hubbard’s “Bad Bank” as a New Zealand’s version of “too big to fail”.

Liam Dann on Hubbard:

Put the probe into his personal financial entities to one side. The real story is South Canterbury Finance – the $900 million liability hanging around the taxpayer’s neck…..
Hubbard lost control of that company earlier this year after it had breached its trust deed. He was removed from the board and given the sentimental title of President for Life.

By that point the Government had already effectively decided the company was too big to fail.


The bad loan “bank” is up to its neck in $600 to $700 million of debt on assets that may yield as little as half of that when they are realised.

When it is euphemistically said that South Canterbury failed to “stick to its knitting” it is the bad bank that people are talking about.

For people on suffering the pain of minimum wages barely enough to pay the rent, without the luxury of spare savings to invest in high finance. It’s a bitter irony that wealthy and middle class investors should have their speculative losses made up by a government that viciously opposed raising the minimum wage. What do these people know about hardship?

While the government continues to do nothing about joblessness and low wages, the question is, how many more millions of dollars will they uselessly throw investors way, as the recession deepens and more finance companies go under?

96 comments on “Anything too big to fail should be publicly owned ”

  1. Yet another case where the losses will no doubt be nationalised and the profits privatised.

    • Carol 1.1

      And I heard on National Radio this morning that builders are already leaving Aussie due to lack of work in NZ.

      Wouldn’t the government be better to use some of the money (that they clearly have access to), for infrastructure building? This would employ our builders and be an investment for the future, and more value to the average tax payer than the financial elite.

  2. TightyRighty 2

    Funny, back in two thousand and eight, the left were all for bailouts and stimulus spending. we on the right said no way, that’s a sure fire way to ruin. it ruined Steve Piersons blogging persona that’s for sure. and now it’s bailouts with conditions. nationalising something won’t fix the problem and will lump the good (kiwibank) with the bad if we follow your proposal marty.

    SCF should be allowed to fail, that’s capitalism at its finest. tough shit for the people with monies invested, you knew the risk, that is why you accepted such large interest rates. the deposit guarantee scheme is a self fulfilling prophecy that reduced risk for lenders and depositors alike and would always lead to a situation like this. so shame on john key for standing beside the “financial genius” mikhael cullen while he presented this.

    • The left were all for stimulus spending rather than bail outs per se and many preferred that the financial institutions were nationalized, rather than put back on their feet with public money with no strings attached.

      SCF is covered by the deposit guarantee. It may be that it is financially prudent for the Goveernment to act. I prefer fiscal prudence to dogma.

      • TightyRighty 2.1.1

        Financially prudent to remove the downside of risk? even for you that is particularly stupid. The very reason such high interest rates were offered is to signal the risk involved. You would think nothing of a bank charging very high interest rates on lending to a risky project failing, so why not the same when lending to a finance company. nobody steps in to help the banks when their dodgy investments go sour, or nobody should. so why should the government step in now, even if SCF is covered by the deposit guarantee scheme. a scheme that encouraged risk as there was no downside. dogma indeed. funny how you suppourt working for families despite your stated preferences

        • Bored

          TR, Its a horrible thing to agree with you….yes the buyer should beware (in this case the person loaning the loan sharks the cash) and yes they should not be bailed out by you and me. Drives me mad that people think that things which look too good to be true are, as you point out high interest rates on deposit should advertise higher risk. My sympathy levels for the depositors, zero.

          • TightyRighty

            it’s not a horrible thing to agree with me bored, it’s just a painful decision to arrive at.

            the government should provide the framework and civil infrastucture (roads, water supply etc) for business to operate, and probably fund and control any natural monopolies in the market. other than that, it should FRO.

            • Zaphod Beeblebrox

              Regulation of capital markets might be needed- thats how this whole mess began.

            • roger nome

              Don’t be so quick to agree with him BORED. TR’s a jerk-off of the highest order (i.e. i sometimes think that he’s “insolent prick” under a different persona), which makes him hard to agree with. That said, there really is no reason to agree with him this time.

              There’s also no reason why “we the people” should accept the usurous practices involved in the finance and/or fractional reserve-abusing private banking sector.

              Here’s an idea. Why not nationalise the whole banking industry? That way all the many billions of dollars syphoned off to Australia every year would stay in New Zealand, and we’d have deeper capital markets, meaaning higher labour productivity, which allows for higher wages. It ain’t rocket science, and it’s one of the main reasons for us lagging so far behind Australia.

              Further more, the money made by the government through the collection of interest could be use to fund public services, and lower the tax burden.

              Fortunately you don’t have to worry about TR agreeing with you on this because:

              a) It surves the interest of the people instead of the elite.

              b) It’s quite simply too rational.

              • TightyRighty

                wow, you’ve really tried to package this as electable policy haven’t you roger? I bet it looks pretty awesome from where you are sitting in your ivory halls.

                the problems start where we would go back to the pre-privatised telecom days. people waiting six months to figure out whether or not they can get a bank loan and other opportunities slipping by as public servants faff around due to their lower appetite for risk.

                And they don’t really end. Frankly, if you trust the government to not dip into the public funds (worse than they already do) at their disposal to fund pet or pork barrell projects, you’re on a hiding to nothing. serving the people this idea won’t do, as their will be no competition in the market and no incentive for the only bank to improve service or meet the market on price or needs.

                far better to adopt a policy similar to australia’s “four pillars of banking”. ie encourage through government subsidies via tax breaks or loan guarantees, the stable New Zealand financial instituitions like PSIS, TSB and Kiwibank to become the dominant banks in the New Zealand banking market. it’s not anti-competitive as the australian government is practically doing the same back in aus with the owners of our big four banks. this way you also retain the intra-New Zealand sense of competition and achievment, and keep temptation away from those who can obviously not be trusted with it. like the government.

                • TightyRighty

                  i’ll just add this here as an edit, the edit box is doing it’s jumping thing

                  the governmnet subsidies should be removed as the NZ financial institutions gain market share eventually petering out. I wish the government wern’t involved, but it may be the only way to ensure we return a measure of control to our financial markets. it’s more of a PPP anyway as kiwibank is already involved.

                  [lprent: What browser and OS? And what is the jumping thing? ]

                  • TightyRighty

                    IE7? windows xp server edition. it’s just at work, we all run off terminal servers, don’t think it’s your fault.

                    • TightyRighty

                      sorry part two: the jumping thing is where the edit box, if the OP is larger than it, constantly automatically scrolls to the top.

                    • lprent


                      Well I can probably try something close to that when I get home. Terminal services into Server 2003. If I can reproduce it I may be able to do something about it.

                      Ummm – the only thing that I think might cause commenting in reply to a deeply nested comment. The right of the comment area is hidden (ie including the scrolbar).

                      It has been on my aesthetics cleanup list for a while.

                    • TightyRighty

                      LP, I wouldn’t worry. It’s so minor. I know you are a perfectionist and I appreciate it. If you could improve your politics, you might even be useful.

                • roger nome


                  Conversly i could argue that private banks take too much risk in thier lending (hello – where the hell have you been for the last two years?) Much better to have moderate steady growth than the “bi-polar new-right economy”, which is characterised by a boom and bust cycle with high wealth inequality (which leads to higher levels of crime, prostituton, plus physical and mental illness). Why anyone would choose the latter is beyond me.

                  Australia’s banking industry is certainly functioning better for its people than ours. Still, it could do even better with a fully publically owned industry, wich is privately audited by several of the big firms annually (i.e. price waterhouse coopers).

                  You know – a publically owned industry is only as good as its model, and we have certainly had an inefficient model in the past, but it doesn’t have to be the same in the future.

                  That said – most consumer goods and services are obviously better left in the hands of private industry – but there are exceptions.

                  • TightyRighty

                    umm, roger, hate to break this too you, but our (by which i mean australian, kiwibank, psis and tsb) banks have been extremely succesful in the last two years compared to interlopers to australasia ie Bank of Scotland International. But it has resulted in moans from people needing finance that they can’t get it. this is indicative of a relatively (too?) conservative approach to risk. it is our finance compainies that have failed. the two are very distinct.

                    characterising the economy as bi-polar new right boom and bust is one way of looking at it. if you don’t mind being wrong. and i thought gordon brown, champion of the left, fixed all that for us? for as long as money, or something representing it, has been the main means of trade, their have been times of boom and bust. right through from pastoral based economies to industrial based to skills based. funnily enough, the boom times are usually associated with increased global temperature. Just as there has always been inequality. not that that is a good thing or should continue. there are just those who work harder and/or smarter than those around them.

                    there is no way to “model” financial institutions so that they work well if controlled by the government. their are too many inefficiencies, no matter how idealistic you are. the soviet bloc banking systems should serve as a stark reminder and great example.

                    But dream on by all means, that is really what tenure at our academic institutions is all about.

                    • roger nome

                      TR – you reductio ad absurdum dick head, it’s about degrees of inequality and the size of the peak/trough in the business cycle. Duh!

                      Also – there is no monolithic model for state wonership, allthough a Nationalised industry will always respond slightly slower to demand. In the case of the finance industry, i’d say that’s a good thing given madness of free financial markets, where the health of the market is dependant on a herd mentality which is little more rational than a paniced flock of sparrows respondng to a predetor threat.

                      There are ways of ensuring that publically-owned assets are managed responsibally (the official information act coupled with other measures can dramaticaly increase accountability. Your equating these systems with the Soviet model is laughable.

                    • TightyRighty

                      whoop!!11 move over economic gods one and all. Roger has arrived. no longer do you have to think or study. human beings have been declared rational and of a hive mind mentality too. your science is hokey, and you are all fired.

                      Funny how those who make the most money, make it by buying in at the bottom of a cycle. kind of refutes your herd metaphor. usually in a herd, if you go against it, you get picked of by the lions.

                      “There are ways of ensuring that publically-owned assets are managed responsibally (the official information act coupled with other measures can dramaticaly increase accountability”

                      i know it sucks, but you have to get off the lollercoaster, you’re to high above this sign to be riding. so far removed from reality is that statement you made that I take it your weekend is still going?

                      a publically owned asset is vastly different from a financial market. the sheer scale of operations alone would make it unfeasable for one institution to handle everything. I suppose you think we live in the world of harry potter and gringotts are the goblin shit.

                    • roger nome

                      TR – Fine – you’ve stated that you want our economy to be dependant on the whims of the herd (worked out great for economies the world over huh?)

                      You got no argument bitch arse. Lie down and take it like the bottom boy you are.

                  • OleOlebiscuitBarrell

                    Still, it could do even better with a fully publically owned industry

                    I have three words for you: Development Finance Corporation.

                • Vicky32

                  “the problems start where we would go back to the pre-privatised telecom days. people waiting six months to figure out whether or not they can get a bank loan and other opportunities slipping by as public servants faff around due to their lower appetite for risk.”
                  Excuse me? I was around in those days, and you got your Richard Prebble quote wrong – wasn’t it people “waiting six weeks for a telephone” – which actually never happened, BTW..
                  As for the rest of your quote – WTF? Whatever do you mean?

                  • TightyRighty

                    i wasn’t quoting richard prebble, i was referencing a dark time in our economy through a homily. Do you honestly think that government departments are the most efficient at doing business?

                    the rest of my qoute is about how civil servants don’t stick their heads above the parapets as there is no need. therefore, a lower appetite for risk. i suppose you are going to tell me you are a civil servant and that you love risk, therefore you could run a bank.

                    I can sense the screeching about to start from you

                    • Blighty

                      do you really think it took 6 months to get a phone line? you’re just misquoting something prebble made up.

                    • Vicky32

                      Call it screeching if you like – man, are you abusive much?
                      But yes, I do think Government departments are efficient at what they do, but that it isn’t and shouldn’t be “business” – which is a hobby or a religion, but not something that actually benefits society..
                      I am not a civil servant, and I have no interest at all in running a bank…

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      Do you honestly think that government departments are the most efficient at doing business?

                      They do appear to be better than private organisations. Perhaps because they have to deal with reality rather than living in the delusion that is capitalism.

              • KJT

                It is fairly easy to do actually. It can be done through Kiwi bank being allowed to borrow off the back of Government bond rates. Eventually the overseas banks would just disappear as their profits fell. As the Americans are finding people que up to buy Government guaranteed bonds, as they have lost faith in private banking.

                As for government control. If we had democratic control of our government control by single interest groups would be less of a problem. http://direct-democracy.geschichte-schweiz.ch/

    • Draco T Bastard 2.2

      Personally, I thought the Depositor Guarantee that Labour brought in was a bad move. What the government should have done is give everyone an account at Kiwibank where their deposits were guaranteed but those accounts drew 0% interest and weren’t loaned out. Administration would have been paid for through taxes. All other accounts and other banks/finance companies would not be covered.

      Remove the private banks ability to print money and re-designate them as finance companies and the economy would come closer to reality.

      Of course, they wouldn’t do that as the delusion of the capitalist economy needs to be maintained.

  3. Dunno if this is on topic and pardon my ignorance…

    …but if a wealthy ‘foreign’ investor puts in the money to save the bank, it owns the bank ?… and if the bank owns the mortgage, then forecloses on the mortgage then doesn’t the foreign investor own the building and the land ?

    so the only way to guarantee local ownership of the mortgaged property assets is for a local investor to save and buy the bank, except no one in NZ is really in a position to do that bar the gov’t…

    …are the rules surrounding foreign investment and ownership of businesses the same as those for owning land/farms/property ?

    • Bored 3.1

      Its all rather amusing to note the mainstreams commitment (both National and most of Labour) to the globalised economy. All of their precepts and presumptions bow to the “inevitability” of “free markets” independent of the nation state. Economists at Treasury etc worship at the altar of the “market”.

      And now as the “market” fails the grasping hands of “free” capital reach out to the nation state for salvation. How pathetic, let them fail and have the state take over whats left.

  4. grumpy 4

    Correct to a point Marty, but what you are promoting is a form of “Venture Capitalism”. As SCF has more liabilities than Assets it’s purchase price is Zero. Do we know if the “bad bank’s” assets have already been written down? Probably not.

    As the Govt is already in the gun to debenture holders, in effect it will become the “owner” of SCF. Better to move in now and have an orderly transition of debt to other institutions than the taxpayer lose out further in a fire sale.

    There is a profit in this for someone!

  5. insider 5

    Of course none of this is happening because it is now in receivership

    • George 5.1

      Insider, from the Herald: Prime Minister John Key said if SCF went into receivership the liability could be around $600 million, although that would be offset by assets which would be sold or wound up.

      • insider 5.1.1

        Only under the pre-established guarantee scheme, which is a bit like the insurer paying out on a policy you have paid for already rather than someone buying your business.

  6. joe90 6

    These pricks knew six months ago that they could keep taking deposits and carry on with their shitty lending practices because any losses would be covered. Socialise the losses, again.

    Tuesday 16th February 2010

    South Canterbury Finance’s future depends on its acceptance into the government’s deposit guarantee scheme as it approaches $1.1 billion of debt roll-overs between now and when the scheme shifts to new, more onerous conditions in October.

    Maier, the head of embattled lender South Canterbury Finance says the government scheme has created the “unintended consequence” of making itself a necessity in giving investors piece of mind to roll-over their deposits as they come due – something that’s become a headache for the Timaru-based finance

    btw, at least Cullen got a half decent train set, the dipton dipper will be buying a shitty loan book.

  7. George 7

    The Government this morning paid out $1.7 billion to cover investor losses – about $150 million more than it was required to – as New Zealand’s largest locally owned finance company South Canterbury Finance was placed in receivership.


    • George 7.1

      That’s a $400 loss per taxpayer.

      Or an average $48,500 gain (including 8.5% return) for SCF investors. Meanwhile. teachers are being refused flu shots because they cost too much.

      • Jared 7.1.1

        Since when are teachers being denied the flu shots because of a lack of funds?
        The retail deposit scheme was introduced by Labour, and regardless of the situation now, National couldn’t just deny liability. SCF have paid their dues, although on the outset it does seem unfair to the tax payer.

        • grumpy

          I pay for my own flu shot – what’s so special about teachers?

          • Blighty

            I don’t pay for my own flu shot. in our collective.

            teachers are exposed to more disease. isn’t it going to be in the govt’s financial interests not to have teachers off on paid leave and paying substitutes just for the cost of flu jabs?

            • grumpy

              How are teachers exposed to more disease? They have the same exposure as any other person in the school – who then go home and infect everyone else?

              • Blighty

                kids are the main vectors for infectious diseases like the flu. teachers spend their days in rooms with dozens of kids. parents do not.

                • grumpy

                  But – parents spend their days in rooms with kids who spend the rest of their days in rooms with other kids – so what is the difference again???

                  • Blighty

                    the number of kids.

                    say your odds of being exposed to the flu by being in a room with a child during flu season are 1% per child per day. Who has greater odds of being exposed – a parent with two kids or a teacher with 30?

                    seems like someone needs to go back to school.

                    • grumpy

                      No thanks, it’s full of teachers.

                      It is the same because the 2 kids have the same exposure as the teacher!

                      Just as the teacher’s partner etc. has the same odds. Remember all that STD advertising that you are in contact with whoever the person next to you has been in contact with?

                      Hope you are not a maths teacher.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      30 kids in a class means that the concentration of the bug in the air will be higher which means that the chance of catching the flu will be higher as well.

                    • Blighty

                      the kid may have the same odds as the teacher, but the issue is whether teachers should get free flu jabs when you don’t – remember this? “I pay for my own flu shot – what’s so special about teachers?”

                      And the reasons why are

                      1) teacher has much higher exposure than you do.

                      2) when the teacher is sick, they have to call in a substitute at extra cost – that’s not the case in most jobs.

            • Herodotus

              I think you will find many schools(primary from experience) aready pay for these jabs, I take it the same occurs at Secondary schools, all this would be doing is formalising what is already being implimented in practice.

        • joe90

          National couldn’t just deny liability.

          Did the dipton dipper and co know that SCF was in trouble when the scheme was extended earlier this year?.

        • Loota

          Flu shots are not great at preventing sick leave. They are just not that effective. Most studies show only a minimal to zero helpful effect on sick days taken.

          In other words they are a waste of money for most working age adults.

          And by the way, NZ hospital nurses have a take up rate of the flu jab of roughly 16%: and they certainly get it for free, on site, they don’t even have to leave work to get it.

          • Draco T Bastard

            In other words they are a waste of money for most working age adults.

            That’s how I’ve always viewed them. I think it’s more that pharmaceutical companies found a cheap way to make more profit for no advantage to the society.

          • insider

            That could be behavioural not illness linked. I suspect the employers who do free shots are pretty clear in their culture that employees should not come to work if sick, which could ‘inflate’ absent days.

            Similarly I;ve heard stories that companies with unlimited sick leave have no greater issues than those with only 10 days a year. It’s mainly to do with company culture and attitude.

  8. grumpy 8

    Might not be too bad, the cows are still eating grass and producing milk. If any have to be sold, we know (a la Crafar) that there are overseas buyers willing to pay over the odds to vertically integrate our farms to their manufacturing and distribution. Govt might even make a profit.

  9. Herodotus 9

    Does not the guarantee only relate to deposits and not the interest? So if that is the case then as others have mentioned , if the loan sheet is strong and there is only cash flow timing then my taxes and yours are only supplying bridging finance, and there is a “surplus” somewhere in the murky mud. Farming is booming, just look at butter PnS $4.19/500 gms milk prices, milk fat, Fonterra shares as a security for the farmers loans, So if you and I stump up with the money who still owns the loans? and what return does the tax payer get for funding this bridging finance, 0% return, which is a negative return in NPV terms?

    • grumpy 9.1

      Interesting point about the Fonterra shares…………

    • Blighty 9.2

      it appears we do pay the interest too. treasury has already handed over the money to pay the depositors, and I guess it gets paid back from whatever the receivers manage to liquidate the assets for in a fire sale.

      Not going to be the best result for the Crown accounts, unless Kiwibank buys the loans..

      • Zaphod Beeblebrox 9.2.1

        Hopefully the butterfat market picks up next year or two. If it does govt could make a handy profit.

        • Blighty

          but the govt doesn’t own the assets. it will just get repaid by the recievers to either the amount they put in or the total value of the assets, whichever it lower. the owners will get anything remaining once the govt has been repaid.

          so, no potential upside for the govt/taxpayer. guess marty is right, we should have bought the thing, then the govt would pocket any upside, not the owners.

          now, we’re just paying its depositors and hoping the cash will turn up to get our money back (wihtout any interest) eventually –

          all downside risk held by us, all upside by the owners.

        • insider

          Unlikely. The properties were overvalued by the looks. There will need to be a big adjustment downwards to sell, which implies a loss on the loan.

          If kept, any future super return is unliekly because the properties concerned will have to be outstanding performers to recoup the price originally paid/loaned due to the effect of compounding. But if they were outstanding properties, then the loans wouldn’t have been duds in the first place.

      • Herodotus 9.2.2

        Bit late now, but should that not be where the depositors carry some of their risk? Sure for on going funding and security from investors guarantee the initial deposits, but then these same depositors are gaining from the supposed increase of their returns, that reflects the increase of risk, otherwise why should they benefit from the increased returns, we might as well have sent all our savings to these organisations and received the extra 1 or 2% reward for the massive risks that were beyond the real rate.
        I suppose there is some consulation of RWT to claw back 19% of the interest paid out. That is I give you 5 and I get 1(The beatles was some much better from taxman ..
        Let me tell you how it will be;
        There’s one for you, nineteen for me.
        ‘Cause I’m the taxman,
        Yeah, I’m the taxman.
        Anti spam word Key .. he does get in everywhere …

  10. Uroskin 10

    As someone else said in another thread: just sell Timaru to the Chinese for $1.5bn and be done with it.

    • grumpy 10.1

      SCF just happens to be based in Timaru – it’s borrowers are NZ wide. what you say is correct – just think of a lot of Crafar farms on the market – all going to China!

  11. Scott 11

    There was no bailout of SCF, and the government was indicating yesterday there would be none.

    These posts seem to be attacking the government for planning to do something it never had any intention of doing.

    • Loota 11.1

      OKAY, that’s clear as mud.

    • Blighty 11.2

      the deposit scheme bails out depositors and any gain on sale of assets goes to the owners… still a form of corporate welfare

      • Scott 11.2.1

        No, the guarantee scheme means the Govt is effectively first secured creditor over the assets of SCF and will take everything that comes from any sale of SCF’s assets. The owners of SCF will get nothing, because its assets won’t be sufficient to cover the Govt guarantee.

        • Blighty

          yeah, if those assets don’t appreciate in value. Others are saying the govt could end up making a profit but it can’t.

          At best it will get its money back and lose its cost of borrowing over that time.

          If there is any profit from those assets being liquidated, it will go to the owners… no downside for the owners, all negative risk and cost of borrowing borne by the government, all upside for the owners.

          • Scott

            No downside? Hubbard pumped tens of millions into the company and has almost certainly lost the lot. This is an unmitigated disaster for the owners of SCF, whichever way you look at it.

            • Blighty

              he put that money in before now. the point is that by going into receivership rather than the govt buying the loan book for fair value, any improvement in value is enjoyed by the owners and, even in the best case scenario, all the taxpayer gets is a bill for the $1.7 billion we just borrowed.

              • insider

                If the fair value of the loan book was sufficient, the company wouldn’t be in receivership. Why on earth would the govt do that?

                The fair value was a fraction of the exposure to depositers, that’s why it’s insolvent. The people with SCF loans still have to pay them back.

                ‘the owners’ of SCF are unsecured. The Govt will get any money from the business well ahead of the owners. The improvement in value needed before they get any money is so large as to be considered impossible.

                • Blighty

                  yeah, and that’s why I’m talking about downside and upside risk – not certainity.

                  Govt has downside risk of not getting all its money back (and wil lose its cost of borrowing anyway). No upside risk.

                  Owners have upside risk of getting anything left over once govt has been paid out. No downside risk.

                  Owners get to keep the profits they pocketed while the company was being run into the ground

                  If govt had bought the business at fair value, it would carry both downside and upside risks, not just downside.

                  • Scott

                    Considering Hubbard and interests controlled by him own a large part of SCF, I’m sure any profits he may have extracted will be more than offset by the potentially hundreds of millons he is now about to lose.

                    You keep talking about the potential upside to the owners. Only an extreme optimist would see any upside. It doesn’t sound like there’s any realistic prospect of the government recouping its money. Even if there is a bit left over, Hubbard and other owners will not get back everything they put in.

                    If the government had bought the loan book at “fair value” (supposing that could even be reasonably determined – Allied Farmers thought it got a good deal on the Hanover loan book and look what haoppened there), what then? The company would still have an enormous debt and would collapse, leaving the taxpayer to pick up the pieces under the RDGS.

                    • Blighty

                      “It doesn’t sound like there’s any realistic prospect of the government recouping its money.”

                      and that’s true in either a scenario where the govt just does what it has done, or where it buys SCF. At least the second way, the govt has the chance of making money if things go well – it doesn’t when it’s just a creditor.

                    • Scott

                      There is no prospect of the Govt recouping its money under the most optimistic assessment of the situation, regardless of what it did or ends up doing. It’s moot.

        • BLiP

          The owners of SCF will get nothing, because its assets won’t be sufficient to cover the Govt guarantee.

          Except the huge fees and exorbitant salaries they’ve garnered in overseeing the collapse of yet another finance company. I wonder how many of them took out credit-default-swap arrangements in the last 12 months. Lets be having their holiday houses, luxury cars, and pensions put into the collective pot – a little personal responsibility, eh? Fat chance.

  12. BLiP 12

    I wrote this a couple of weeks ago – probably bears repeating today:

    W T F ! ! !

    TriOptima, the OTC derivatives market infrastructure provider, today announces that the total notional amounts outstanding for all interest rate derivative transactions reported by the G-14 financial institutions to the Global Interest Rate Trade Repository as of June 30, 2010 was $449.202 trillion.

    Have the banksters and their co-dependant enabling economists learned nothing??

    • nzfp 12.1

      According to 800Million/year company Overstock.com CEO Dr. Patrick Byrne, Wall street is the playground of Russian Mafia (see here)

      According to forensic accountant Harry M. Markopolos or Harry Markopoulos, the man who caught Bernie Madoff – Madoff was Russian Mafia. (see here)


      • BLiP 12.1.1

        That ain’t the half of it.

        This was no isolated incident. Wachovia, it turns out, had made a habit of helping move money for Mexican drug smugglers. Wells Fargo & Co., which bought Wachovia in 2008, has admitted in court that its unit failed to monitor and report suspected money laundering by narcotics traffickers — including the cash used to buy four planes that shipped a total of 22 tons of cocaine.

        The entire global financial system is the play thing of criminals.

        • Draco T Bastard

          And that surprises you?
          The entire global financial system was designed by the criminals.

          • BLiP

            Not surprised – just saying. Its been a few years since I first saw this series of vids. Kind of explains how it all came about – perhaps a little simplistic but accurate all the same.

    • Bored 12.2

      One million million = one trillion so if total Global Interest Rate Trade Repository as of June 30, 2010 was $449.202 trillion, or in other terms $449 million million US$s, trifling small change for the giant intergalactic mega banks BUT if the world population is 7000 million it represents a mere US$ 64,142 per person on Earth owed. I would not want to be the person trying to collect the debt. What a laugh.

  13. Herodotus 13

    So what have we learnt in class today?
    Nat cannot manage and Lab screwed the workers by underwritting our taxes to fund the lifestyles of the rich and famous.
    So thanks to Michael Cullen for setting up the framework of “Capitalisation of profits and socialise the loss.”
    So National and Labour are both crap, and in a few years time when historians review the early part of the 21st century the students will wonder in amazement at our stupidity. We had Muldoon, then Lange & co , followed by Bolger & co then Clark, as NZ sinks deeper in the crap, unless you are rick then these fine PM’s will look after your interests at the expense of the voting & tax paying public.

    • KJT 13.1

      On with the revolution…..??

      In 1941, the editor Edward Dowling wrote: “The two greatest obstacles to democracy in the United States are, first, the widespread delusion among the poor that we have a democracy, and second, the chronic terror among the rich, lest we get it.”

  14. john 14

    Continuing privatization of taxpayer’s wealth,intended to help all New Zealanders with social provision, and the enfeeblement of the State until like the US all wherewithal is in the hands of the rich and the State has no substance to help its own people as happened with post katrina in New Orleans.Bodies left on the streets for days, that’s the result of neo-liberal gutting of the Public Sector. Let the free market work here they so admire let the investors take a hair cut! The object of neo-liberal Governments is to become no more responsible for anything than receiving the dosh and handing it out to their mates. The free market economy,privatized, is supposed to run automatically,that’s john’s attitude that’s why he’s so laid back!

  15. bobo 15

    John Key has to protect his reputation in the countries that matter to him such as America for his post PM corporate career. I bet the trip to see the queen cant come soon enough while letting Bill stay behind and take one for the team. Looks messy ahead..

  16. Carol 16

    Did I just hear right on TV3 news? Duncan Garner was sceptical about the government (tax payers) getting back the loan used to finance SCF’S crash. Garner said that usually the failed finance companies don’t result in the bail-out loans being repaid. But then Garner said, the government’s action today will keep the investors, and Nat’s heartland voters in the south happy, so Nat’s poll ratings won’t sufer. So Garner concluded from that, that it was the right action on the part of the government…..???!!!

    • Vicky32 16.1

      That is Garner for you! (He’s a business parter of Rodders Hide, AFAIK)

    • Jenny 16.2

      This has echoes of George Bush’s statement, “What some people call the elite. I call my people.”

  17. Jenny 17

    Social Welfare for the Rich?

    It is said that because of our remoteness, everything in New Zealand happens a year after the rest of the world.

    So why can’t we learn from this?

    Prime Minister John Key confirmed the cost to the taxpayer could be as much as $700 million under the Government’s deposit guarantee scheme if South Canterbury Finance falls over.

    Finance Minister Bill English has cancelled a trip to Hong Kong and Singapore to deal with any fallout.

    The finance company owes more than 35,000 depositors and debenture holders about $1.7 billion, with $1.5b of that covered by the Government’s guarantee.

    However, the latest assessment is that its bad loans would leave a shortfall of about $700m owed to depositors and investors – a cost that would have to be picked up by taxpayers.

    Key confirmed yesterday that taxpayers were also liable for interest on deposits guaranteed under the scheme, which in SCF’s case is as high as 8.5 per cent.

    Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce head Peter Townsend said the impact if the company was allowed to fail would be “gigantic”.

    Peter Townsend should be made to quantify what he means about a “gigantic impact” If South Canterbury Finance is allowed to fail.

    Does Townsend just mean a “gigantic impact” for wealthy investors?


    I am sure that Townsend would think this. Because the collapse of South Canterbury Finance would have a “gigantic impact” for middle class investors and rich speculators.

    But what if it was allowed to fail?

    Detractors of bank bailouts in the US pointed have pointed out, that if the finance companies had been allowed to fail, instead of being artificially propped up, this would have seen a gigantic drop in speculative overpriced property market.

    The US government could then could have bought all these assets at a fraction of the bailout cost.

    Because the government could have bought up all these assets at a fraction of the cost of bailing out the parent finance companies. This would mean that the government could then afford to re-negotiate all these mortgages at much lower and affordable rates, allowing thousands of homeowners to stay in their homes.

    By putting government money into bailouts only serves to re-inflate an overheated, overpriced, speculative property market, effectively locking out working people from home ownership causing a crash in the building industry. And for working families with home mortgages but on low wages, bailouts, by propping up speculative high mortgages, virtually guaranteed tens of thousands of US mortgagee sales.

    All the bailouts did was help pad up private speculative profits and massive salaries of the financiers at the expense of the working poor and the real economy.

    On one hand the government is saying there is no money to give to teachers or healers but there is hundreds of millions of dollars to give unproductive speculators.

    Multi-millionaire John Key’s Social Welfare safety net for the well-off combined with vicious attacks on working New Zealanders is;

    Government for the Rich, by the Rich, and of the Rich

    (My apologies to Abraham Lincoln)

  18. BLiP 18

    Who are the foreign investors John Key made sure got their money back?

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