Posted by Larry Doyle on April 10th, 2009 8:16 AM |
On a quiet Good Friday morning, brief reflection never hurts. In that spirit, I thought it may be worthwhile to go into the archives for our year-end piece 2008. This piece was originally published on December 29, 2008:
I thought about providing an outlook for 2009. I considered offering further opinions on Obama’s economic plans. Perhaps a review of the Bush economic program would be well received. Then yesterday, the lead editorial in my local newspaper asked “Where did the bailout money go?” I had my answer. In previous pieces I have touched upon why I thought there was a very good chance this money would not flow through the system. I hesitate to continue to refer back to my piece published on November 12th (The Wall St. Model is Broken…and Won’t Soon be Fixed), but for new readers I do firmly believe it is as good as anything I have read or seen in any publication in explaining how we find ourselves in our current position.
Please allow me to digress for a second. I will admit that I am not a movie buff, but I do enjoy films that focus on the success of underdogs, have a measure of financial intrigue, or perhaps a combination of the two. Not surprisingly, a few of my favorite movies are, Rocky, Jerry Maguire, and The Sting. (more…)
Posted by Larry Doyle on March 24th, 2009 9:52 PM |
I will admit that I am not a student of the Great Depression, but I have started reviewing that period. Obviously I, like every American, hope our economy stabilizes and we regain our footing and return to prosperity. While the pragmatic optimist in me believes that can happen, the trader and risk manager in me tells me to review the Depression, understand the dynamics, assess the risks of our current period, and prepare accordingly.
I hope and believe people who have been reading my work for a while appreciate that I am not an alarmist. Whether working on Wall Street as a trader and salesman or now writing for Sense on Cents, a measured, analytical approach has always generated the best results. In that vein, I discount speculators and salesmen who attempt to make a buck from heightened levels of anxiety. That said, the elevated levels of risk in our economy, markets, and global finance require an equally elevated sense of risk analysis and historical analysis.
Given some of the economic saber rattling emanating from China and the lessened fiscal support emanating from Europe, the threats of global protectionism are clearly growing. That scenario also occurred during the Depression. (more…)
Posted by Larry Doyle on March 24th, 2009 4:02 PM |
Are we returning to the days of white picket fences, hot dogs, Mom, baseball, and apple pie? Perhaps some people never got away from those endeavors so there is no need to return. However, given forces within the banking industry far outside our control, perhaps we will be returning to the days of community and regional banking.
Our nation experienced the development of a handful of mega-banks given the economies of scale with that model. The leverage created by combining systems, cross-selling products, and outsourcing labor allowed these institutions to redeploy capital into higher risk securities and situations often housed in off-balance sheet vehicles. Pardon my cynicism, but that model does not put a lot of emphasis on customer or employee loyalty, despite what management at many of those institutions may say. That model promotes the concept of volume and efficiency over individual and relationship. Regrettably, that model never fully developed the risk management and risk managers to control those behemoths. (more…)
Posted by Larry Doyle on March 18th, 2009 6:30 PM |
When the economy experiences a massive delevering process, the void in the economy needs to be filled. There has been and will continue to be ongoing debate about the effectiveness of the stimulus plan, Obama’s proposed budget, ongoing government bailouts of a variety of industries, and moves made by the Treasury and Federal Reserve. Has enough been done? Is too much being done? Are our global partners pulling their weight? Are protectionist measures likely to exacerbate our economic problems? The answers to these questions will not be known for years.
Today’s action, Fed’s New Steps Shake Up Markets, is a sign that as everybody is delevering (selling assets purchased with borrowed money), the Federal Reserve is levering up. The Fed has indicated they will purchase billions more than previously advertised in U.S Treasury securities, mortgages, and consumer related assets. Why? By making these purchases, the Fed will attempt to drive the rates for these products lower and reignite consumer and institutional demand for credit. The market responded in startling fashion as 10yr government rates dropped an unprecedented .50% !! Equity markets responded by moving higher by 1-2%. (more…)
Posted by Larry Doyle on March 13th, 2009 3:01 PM |
The biggest secret in the money game is the manner in which people are compensated. Why is this compensation process such a secret? Very simply, if the general public understood the compensation process they could then understand the motivations of those managing their money.
At the institutional level, Wall Street typically pays people on a salary plus bonus format. The salary often would represent only 20% of the overall compensation. The bonus would be tied to individual, group, division, and company performance. The bonus would typically be paid 2/3rds in cash and 1/3rd in stock. That stock component would typically be paid out over a three to five year time frame, thus tying the individual to the firm. That lockup is known as “the golden handcuffs.”
Under this format, people are motivated to maximize profits in order to maximize compensation. In maximizing profits, however, inordinate residual risks have often been left on the banks’ books. Thus, the risk/reward model has been skewed. Expect the Wall Street compensation model to change to address this issue going forward. (more…)
Posted by Larry Doyle on March 10th, 2009 11:19 AM |
I very much appreciate reading material written by people whom I perceive as having no agenda. I have tried to bring people like this (including Ray Dalio, Paul Keating, Bob Rodriguez, Steve Rehm, Kevin Doyle, Vaclav Klaus, and many others) to Sense on Cents because I firmly believe we all become more educated and informed in the process. Please let me know if and when you perceive me, any of the pieces to which I link, or radio guests on NQR’s Sense on Cents as not dealing totally in the truth. Constructive criticism is always appreciated and will make for a better site.
Along with the aformentioned, I have also previously remarked on my high regard for John Mauldin, one of our Economic All-Stars. John himself possesses an insightful global perspective and has a circle of friends and confidantes that are simply off the charts.
In John’s weekly Outside the Box, he shares with us the perceptions of Michael E. Lewitt. Mr. Lewitt writes at length on topics we have covered here previously, but his level of detail and thoughtful analysis are well worth the read.
Topics covered include: (more…)
Posted by Larry Doyle on March 10th, 2009 5:50 AM |
I thoroughly respect Sheila Bair (see my list of Economic All-Stars in the left sidebar). Our Head of the FDIC has been an honest broker each and every time I have heard her speak. I looked forward to her interview with Paul Gigot of The Wall Street Journal.
Ms. Bair addresses the finer points of the Obama Foreclosure Mitigation Plan which is targeted at helping 9 million homeowners stay in their homes. Specifically she touches on:
1. how this program will not reward bad behavior;
2. how it can be viewed as helping people who have managed their finances appropriately;
3. expectations of redefaults given her experience with the failed institution Indymac.
As I initially mentioned, I believe Sheila Bair is an honest broker in an impossible position. Her seeming lack of enthusiasm does not strike me as not believing in the benefits of this program, but rather a subtle acceptance that this program can only go so far. Additionally, this type of program will have plenty of unintended consequences. Will people who are currently paying their mortgages on schedule start to become delinquent on their mortgages in order to gain the benefits of this program?
I think Ms. Bair will make the best of a bad situation. That said, no program will be totally effective. I am fully supportive of programs that will assist Americans, but don’t be fooled to think that we will get 100% return on all dollars spent.
Let’s go to the video . . .