Thursday, February 12, 2009

New Improved Zombies

There is a new phrase being coined regarding a perceived impending disaster that is our economy. It is the "Zombie Bank". I vaguely remember this term being used during the Japanese banking crisis in the 1990's. It's origin may be older, but I'm beginning to see it used in the US financial pages more often now. It's loosely defined as a bank that the market (us) sees as obviously insolvent, that the government central planners (them) refuse to allow to go naturally. Andy Kessler, writing in The Wall Street Journal gives an example:
Despite over a trillion in assets, Citigroup is worth a meager $18 billion, Bank of America only $28 billion. The market has already figured out that the banks and their accountants haven't fessed up to bad loans and that their shareholders are toast.

Citigroup, having had a $25 billion infusion from Old Uncle Larry, is set for round two with Tim Geitner. Like a young Dr. Frankensteen, Geitner is sure to have a pocket full of treats, as he leads the Citigroup Zombie through "Puttin' on the Ritz". I know I'm mixing metaphors here, but the question of the day is this; How well can the Citigroup Zombie sing and dance? Simply eating the flesh of the living just isn't going to be good enough anymore. We need zombie banks that can carry a tune; and if not dance the Tango, at least a saltzy Texas Two-Step to please the crowd.

And to think, the only price of admission is a fistful of toxic assets. Be sure to keep them in your pocket, you may need to show them later. They'll also make a nice souvenir for your memory book. So, sit back and enjoy the new improved zombie banks doing the high step down the avenue while singing, "We're All Keynesian's Now!", and prepare for the zany hijinks of the hit comedy of the season; "Honey, I Shrunk the Capitalists".

It's going to be quite a show. If not a Golden Age of Zombie Bank entertainment, certainly a Copper/Zinc Age.

1 comment: said...

Despite the trillion is "assets", I have to wonder what their exposure is on bad credit card loans. Like the ones they're charging the 30% on despite good credit ratings......