Monthly Archives: November 2011

The US justice system is an unlovely affair of frantic litigation by too many lawyers in too many courts, with expensive and patchy results. But occasionally a judge wields his power for the public good.

Andrew Hill

Plenty of risk officers and strategy directors must be dreading the order from the boardroom: “We need a full report on the impact of eurozone break-up – and how we will deal with it – by tomorrow’s emergency meeting.”

Wednesday’s FT analysis of how, if at all, businesses are preparing for disintegration of the currency area is fascinating. But the comments seem to me to alternate between despair (“There is no blueprint for anything. You do discuss certain scenarios with customers, but it is like poking around in the fog”) and complacency (“Treasurers in multinationals remain generally positive about their ability to weather the systemic fallout from any European exit”). Read more

Andrew Hill

I have a soft spot for US judge Jed Rakoff, who has just thrown a large legal wrench into the decades-old mechanism of redress between Wall Street banks, investors and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

I first came across him nearly 10 years ago when he presided over the extraordinarily complex litigation between JP Morgan and a bunch of insurers about offshore financing the bank had arranged for Enron. Witty, sharp, quoteworthy and unmistakeable – with his white beard, he looks like one of those wise judges who administer 23rd century justice in sci-fi movies – he is a journalist’s dream. Read more

The pun proved irresistible. “Mystery Ends, Mistry Begins”, ran the headline in India’s Economic Times on the appointment last week of Cyrus Mistry to succeed Ratan Tata at the head of the eponymous tea-to-steel holding company. If the succession was a mystery, it looked to have a pretty feeble final twist.

John Gapper

For close observers of the size of the backing that governments and central banks gave to banks and investment banks during the 2007-08 financial crisis, Bloomberg Magazine has a fascinating breakdown of the figures.

As I noted in my column last week on Hank Greenberg, the former head of American International Group, the liquidity support offered to financial institutions by the Federal Reserve – including use of the discount window – is enormously valuable. Read more

Andrew Hill

Michael Woodford has undoubtedly done a service to Japanese capitalism by exposing the accounting scandal at Olympus. But is the former president and chief executive the right man to lead the camera and medical equipment maker out of the mire? I think not.

The British executive is now back in Japan and due to meet the directors who fired him on Friday. Three executives formally resigned as directors on Thursday ahead of the encounter, but I would still love to be a fly on the boardroom wall for it. Read more

John Gapper

The news that AT&T is taking a $4bn charge to cover the break-up fee it will owe to Deutsche Telekom if its takeover of T-Mobile fails is concrete evidence of how badly it has done in its campaign to convince regulators. To which I say, good.

I have been against the AT&T and T-Mobile deal from the start, arguing that it would enable AT&T and Verizon to replicate in mobile the duopoly that they and the cable companies enjoy in fixed line telephony and broadband. Read more

There are various words, many unprintable, that could be used to describe Hank Greenberg’s $25bn suit launched this week against the US government and the New York Federal Reserve over the rescue of American International Group in 2008. I’ll settle for ludicrous.