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Archive for the ‘American Consumers’ Category

Does the Market Rally Have Legs?

Posted by Larry Doyle on March 27th, 2009 9:24 AM |

Barring a major selloff in the stock market in the next three days, March 2009 will go into the books as the largest positive month in the stock market since 1974. It all started 3 weeks ago today when the market, if not the world itself, felt like it was ready to end. The question before the court is “does this rally have legs?”

Having seen some stability and pleasant surprises in economic data over the last few weeks, will those trends continue? What prompted some of the stability in the first place?

In the face of consumer and corporate cutbacks in spending and expenditures, the government has been forced to provide relief to consumers. This relief came largely in the form of cost of living adjustments in Social Security and increased unemployment benefits. Were these the only props supporting a 20+% rally in the stock market? Doubtful. Don’t forget, no market ever goes anywhere in a straight line. The market was oversold and many investors as well as short term traders became exceedingly bearish. That excessive level of bearishness was the catalyst for this rally. (more…)

How Long Can You Tread Water?

Posted by Larry Doyle on March 26th, 2009 11:10 AM |

The other day, I provided a cursory overview of the details embedded in the recently proposed Public-Private Investment Partnership, Will Banks Truly Sell these Toxic Assets?

The main point I tried to highlight in that piece was the need for true price discovery for these toxic assets. A loyal reader provided tremendous insight in highlighting that the PPIP needs to assure that sellers are truly at arm’s length from buyers to insure that the price discovery process is real and fair.

There are potential concerns with this price discovery process highlighted in my piece Send in the Clown. Are the bank portfolios, located within the largest banks needing to sell toxic assets, attempting to prop the market higher? (more…)

Send in the Clown

Posted by Larry Doyle on March 26th, 2009 5:15 AM |

clownIn the process of a business transaction, have you ever encountered the sudden appearance of another interested buyer?  Where does this other mysterious buyer suddenly come from?  How is it that the new buyer appears at the most inopportune time? If you thought you were the primary buyer, do you feel as if your bid is being shopped? In business, this appearance of a supposed late buyer is known as “send in the clown!”

This part of the circus act is played out on Wall Street all the time. As we enter into the largest liquidation sale in the history of Wall Street, the big fellow with the red nose, floppy feet, baggy pants, and squeaky voice has just shown up, in the form of Citigroup and Bank of America’s bank portfolios.  (more…)

Will TARP Screw ARPS Even Tighter?

Posted by Larry Doyle on March 25th, 2009 1:37 PM |

screw1I have written extensively how Wall Street perpetrated a multi-billion dollar scam in the name of Auction Rate Preferred Securities (ARPS). For our newer readers, ARPS are securities funded by longer maturity underlying loans or preferred shares but marketed as short term cash or money market surrogates. How would that work? Wall Street ran very regular (weekly, monthly) auctions to provide liquidity for ARPS holders. The scam worked well until the overall market hit the skids and the Wall Street dealers backed away from providing liquidity to these supposed short term cash/money market instruments.

In the process of reviewing the underlying loans backing these deals, investors became aware of the long term nature of that collateral and thus their investment. While there is overwhelming evidence supporting the gross mismarketing of these securities, the SEC and FINRA have dragged their feet in rectifying this situation. Why? Great question.

I have highlighted that FINRA actually owned $647 million of ARPS as of year end 2006. That news is shocking to whomever I inform. Did FINRA sell their bonds? If so, to whom? When? What price? Did they front run an imploding market?

Could taxpayers via the TARP (Troubled Asset Recovery Program) actually get stuck making investors whole for a scam perpetrated by Wall Street? This fraud gets more bizarre at every turn. Welcome to the world of finance 2009.

I thank PT for sharing with me a story that broke yesterday: (more…)

Public-Private Partnership? or “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”

Posted by Larry Doyle on March 23rd, 2009 9:22 AM |

An oversimplified view of the proposed private-public partnership for investors to purchase toxic assets from banks is as follows:

A couple (private investor) looking for a home finds a piece of property (toxic asset) that seems very appealing. A mortgage broker (the government) is indicating that he can preapprove some very attractive financing terms. The mortgage broker also indicates that he can fortuitously provide a large cushion against potential losses on the property. The buyers inquire how that cushion may work. The broker informs them that he has access to funds from all the other homeowners (taxpayers) in town to offer as incentive to sell this property and others like it. 

The couple’s interest increases, but they start to wonder what’s the catch as the property has been on the market for a while.

Upon further review, the prospective buyer discovers that the property may have structural issues. In hearing that, they think about scaling back a potential bid on the property. The broker pressures them to the point where the couple starts personally disliking the broker. (more…)

We Need a Bigger Boat

Posted by Larry Doyle on March 23rd, 2009 6:05 AM |

"We need a BIGGER boat!"

"We need a BIGGER boat!"

The movie Jaws struck fear into the souls of beachgoers in the mid-70s. If our current economy were only a scary movie. A classic scene in Jaws occurred when the salty mariner Quint eyed the shark and informed his sidekicks, “we need a bigger boat.”

 In similar fashion, the size of the losses embedded in our banking, insurance, automotive, and states and municipalities will similarly require “a bigger boat!!”

Capital needs in the banking industry are projected from at least $500 billion to $1.5 trillion. Bloomberg reports former Fed chair Greenspan Says Banks Need $750 Billion More Capital. Nouriel Roubini puts the needs at upwards of $1.5 trillion. (more…)

Audio Recording: NoQuarter Radio’s Sense on Cents with Larry Doyle

Posted by Larry Doyle on March 22nd, 2009 9:36 PM |

In case you missed LD’s Sunday night radio show, just click on the Play button below for the audio recording. Once the playback has started, you can fast forward or rewind to any portion of the show by clicking at any point along the play bar.

The first portion of the show included a review of the markets and an in-depth analysis of the very critical challenges facing the insurance industry.

The second half of the show included an interview with Chuck Doyle of Business Capital in San Francisco. Chuck is one of the leading professionals in the field of debt restructuring and recapitalization.

Sunday night, March 22nd, 2009
NoQuarter Radio’s “Sense on Cents with Larry Doyle” 


Financial Logic and Morality

Posted by Larry Doyle on March 22nd, 2009 12:26 PM |

I am a proud graduate of the College of the Holy Cross, a Jesuit institution in Worcester, MA. The strength of a Jesuit education lies in the principles of Logic and Morality. While I fully appreciated my classes in Economics, German, Philosophy, and others, my classes in Logic and Morality made the greatest impact on me. Those classes forced me to think, not make rash judgments, take positions, and defend them.  

Fast forward to 2009 and a banking industry facing hundreds of billions, if not trillions, of unrealized losses. How do we most effectively, efficiently, and expeditiously address the health of this banking system so that our economy and population can regain its footing and prosper?  Let me revert back to the late ’70s and early ’80s and the principles instilled in me by those Jesuits.

 My Logic class utilized “decision trees.” My Morality class was based on the principle of “the greatest good for the greatest number.”

What have we learned over the last 6 months, as well as the last 16 years, to help us chart our way forward? (more…)

Throwing the Baby Out with the Bath Water!!

Posted by Larry Doyle on March 20th, 2009 3:12 PM |

I questioned a Wall Street friend of mine this morning whether Washington in general and the Obama administration and Democratic Congress specifically could be so myopic or actually are so calculating in attempting to enact legislation that would impose tax rates of 70-90% on certain Wall Street employees. My friend quickly responded that the Washington crowd is not that smart.

Make no mistake, the proposed legislation of taxing certain Wall Street employees at 70-90% rates is targeted at addressing public outrage over improperly allocated compensation. However, Washington is utilizing a bazooka when in fact they need a laser.

In so doing, the politicians pushing this legislation are showing themselves to be misinformed and misaligned in understanding the basic tenets of capitalism and free market principles. (more…)

Closer to Home: Let’s Talk About Municipal Finance

Posted by Larry Doyle on March 20th, 2009 12:29 PM |

It appears that almost every financial road lately leads to Washington. Wall Street banks, Detroit based automotive companies, and large insurance companies have all come to Washington to find the financial support that private markets will not provide. Although these large behemoths have attracted the bulk of the media’s attention, the financial health and well being of our state and local municipalities has an equal, if not greater, impact on our personal lives and financial standing.

With municipal pensions rocked by the selloff in the stock market and tax revenues declining as incomes plummet, what will happen to our state and local budgets? Virtually every municipality in the country is faced with the same predicament – that is, rising liabilities and declining asset values and revenues. How do they handle that widening budget deficit? Increased layoffs and rising tax rates both put a greater burden on our communities but they are a reality. (more…)

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