Monday, November 30, 2009

Happy Jamhuri, Xmas & New Year

'09 has just flown by. Or maybe too much fun has been had. Or maybe age is catching up.

enjoy your mbuzi, turkey (zzzzzz), or green chick peas (double zzzzzzz).

Monday, November 23, 2009

Is money-making and Godliness compatable?

In many versions of Gospel-preaching there tends to be emphasis on the self-sacrificing nature of Christianity. According to these preachers, its easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than richman to go to heaven. The meek (implicitly, the poor), shall inherit the earth. There seems to be a contradiction with go ye and multiply and the various tales that Jesus demonstrated about being fruitful. 2ndly, heaven is unlikely to come tomorrow or rather, its just as likely that come tomorrow, you'll have to pay bills. Its thus to focus on making sure that you are being fruitful enough so that (a) you can build God's kingdom (b) you can generous unto those who are unable to be fruitful.

I believe what God wants is for us to not put money-making before a relationship with Him.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The "too big, please don't fail" banks in Kenya

In this post, I talked about how banks can grow to a size that presents systemic risk to their domestic economies. That is, there are so large, that their likely failure would mean guaranteed govt assistance which would off-course mean every taxpayer peaks up the bill. Further, it was/is my opinion that such banks being deemed to be too large to fail and too expensive to rescue, should have applied to them, more stringent regulatory measures. The examples were higher capital and liquidity requirements to match their size or growth.
So do we have such banks in Kenya? The answer is yes:

  1. KCB: At close of play in September 2009, KCB had a balance sheet of Ksh189bn, which si roughly speaking 27% of Kenya's total budget. It also has around 200 branches, 150 of those in Kenya. Thus its a large employer as well. Its collapse won't be pretty. Remedy: At 13%, its tier 1 capital ratio looks strong for versus some Western banks, but its target should be 20% or more given its host economy.
  2. Equity: Holds just under 50% of Kenya's banking account population irrespective of the size of their accounts. And has 155 branches (130 of them in Kenya). Its collapse would lead to a severe dislocation SMEs and agriculture for which it serves a significant portion. I see its risk coming from liquidity rather than capital concerns. Remedy: Should be required to hold at least 12% of its assets in form of t-bills and or AAA-rated gilts.
  3. BBK: At Ksh170bn (June 2009), its also a behemoth in the local economy. Included here because of its corporate client content which would again cripple our economy were it or the parent to collapse. Remedy: As with KCB, probably more suspect to lower capital thresholds and should thus be required to hold at least 15% tier 1 capital ratio at all times.
  4. Co-op: The banker of co-operative societies and Saccos country-wide. And like Equity, therefore, carries systemic risk for the economy. Has a history of appalling size of bad loans coupled with political inteference. Remedy: Higher liquidity and capital requirements. The broker licence was probably a mistake.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Investment banks should be banned from proprietary trading

Angukia investment bank has 3 employees.
  1. A1 who is the broker. She executes buy and sell orders on behalf of Angukia's clients (corporate, high net worthy and raia).
  2. B1 is Angukia's proprietary trader. He buys and sells various instruments using Angukia's capital.
  3. Finally C1 is the investment banker. He advises Angukia's corporate clients on mergers, divestitures, acquisitions, financing and capital raising events (such as rights issues).
In the West you'd be told that there is a Chinese wall between the various activities that Angukia undertakes such that C1 and A1 never converse about the deals passing through their desks. You'd be told that if A1 received an order for 5% stake in a particular listed share, she'd never tell B1 who was thinking about selling the 1% stake that he had built up for Angukia.
This is ofcourse not possible.
In the developing stockmarkets like the NSE, where integrity may not be as established, it is essential that IBs not be part of the trading in the market.