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Buddy, can you spare me a Billion?

It is amusing to see how the banking industry is snorting in relief that Citi Bank declared a 2Q 08 loss of  'only' $ 2.5 Billion. Things have come to such a pass that a bank like IndyMac going under has only elicited marginal interest. Just as social scientists declare '40 is the new 30', the banking gurus seem to say 'Billion is the new million'! UBS, Bear Stearns, Lehman ..... these giants have got the whole world talking like investment bankers - in billions.

Apart from a few merchants of doom, everyone seems to be wishing away the crisis by harping on 'we reaching the end of the curve'. The number of big wigs trawling around the globe for additional capital would certainly give the airlines some cause for cheer. The 'capital lounges' in the GCC countries' SWFs resemble a doctor's waiting room.

It now looks like our sensitivities have been so numbed by the billions of dollars flowing down the gutters that we look to becoming oblivious to the potential failures of an important part of the financial industry - small and medium banks. Poor Bradford and Bingley only got a passing show of interest in their rights issue caper. What happens to the average man on the street when your neighbourhood banks start folding up? Are we now in a world where we prescribe 'Capitalism for the poor and Socialism for the rich'? Clearly, the banking industry appears to moving its value system at a pace beyond our understanding.

Perhaps, the next stage is where we react only to figures in Trillions. We seem to have made a start last week in the news item of Citibank's  $ 1.6 trillion off balance sheet holdings. Small fry like me who still count in thousands aren't likely to attract any attention!




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