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Archive for the ‘Credit Risk’ Category

Libor Creeping Higher

Posted by Larry Doyle on March 11th, 2009 5:45 AM |

For those involved in the markets, very often the first rate one checks in the morning is Libor (London Interbank Offered Rate). For those not directly involved in the markets, perhaps tomorrow morning or Thursday you may start your day by asking your partner, “where’s Libor?”  In all seriousness, the 1 month and 3 month Libor rates may very well be the most closely watched indicators of market health in the world.

As Libor is the rate at which banks can borrow from each other in the London market, the rate is an indication as to the availability of dollars and the confidence banks have in each other’s credit. Traditionally, Libor tracked the Federal Funds rate (the rate at which banks borrow from the Federal Reserve) very closely.  However, on the heels of the failure of Lehman Bros. last September, the confidence banks and investors had in each other plummeted. The relationship between the Fed Funds rate and 3 month Libor blew out.  The 3 month Libor rate went as high as 4.7% from just outside 1%. Recall that at that period there was concern about money market funds “breaking the buck” amongst a whole set of other issues. (more…)

We’ve Seen This Movie Before

Posted by Larry Doyle on March 10th, 2009 2:37 PM |

The stock markets are having a very robust, broad based rally today. All major market averages are up almost 5% or better. Gold is down approximately 3%. Foreign stock markets also had significant rallies. Can we put this pain behind us? Is it finally over?

In dealing with markets and the economy, it is never over. The critical, mental acuity in dealing with the markets and economy is understanding the dynamics at work and the associated risks. Along with a host of other goals, I firmly hope that my work here at Sense on Cents is able to help people understand those dynamics and the accompanying risks. It is a process, but I will keep after it and I hope you find it enlightening and informative. If so, please comment and share Sense on Cents with your friends. (In fact, you can share this piece, and any other piece here at S o C by using the “ShareThis” link underneath the title line of each story). Let’s assess today’s market action. (more…)

How Wall Street and Washington Betrayed America!!

Posted by Larry Doyle on March 4th, 2009 11:03 AM |

fitz_03_06_banks4
While politicians, bankers, regulators, and commentators can and will point fingers as to where and how our system of financial oversight broke down, make no mistake it was due to too many people making and taking too much money!! I have highlighted the grotesque system of lobbying that has developed and corrupted our society in More Legalized Bribery.  

We watch daily hearings on Capitol Hill in the spirit of doing what is right for our country. Please!! Spare me the nonsense and pandering. While collectively we deal with markets that are now down over 50%, the pols and the bankers have effectively robbed the bank and left the taxpayers with the bill to clean up the mess.  Barron’s wrote a brief piece on this topic: how the Financial Sector Spent $5 Billion Lobbying Washington Over the Last Decade!! 

It is high time we attach names and faces to those politicians and lobbyists who fed at this trough!!

LD

Mo’ Money…

Posted by Larry Doyle on March 3rd, 2009 2:48 PM |

There are a string of events in the market today that all highlight the need for entities to refinance debt and raise capital.  Given the tightness of credit and the onerous terms being exacted within the bond market, many firms are massively capital constrained. These issues are global in nature. From our friends at Bloomberg, I offer the links to a number of these situations. In light of these types of situations, one does not need to be in a hurry to buy stocks.  Additionally, given the demands for capital, I still maintain that rates are headed higher.

I will share with you some of the current problem situations getting serious attention:

1. GE Falls Below $7 on Concern Finance Unit May Need More Capital

2. Corporate Bond Losses Drive Investors ‘to the Bunker’

3. Metlife, Lincoln Sink as U.S. Stock Rout Increases Capital Need

4. German Real Estate Firms Owe Billions, Face Deadlines

LD

Why is George Soros Short the Euro? MUST READ!

Posted by Larry Doyle on March 3rd, 2009 6:10 AM |

In very short order, I have gained a deep respect and regard for our Economic All-Star, John Mauldin. I have come to appreciate that Mauldin and I view the market through the same lens focused on the global economy. While many media outlets focus on the day to day, if not hour to hour trading activity, I believe they are truly missing the forest for the trees.

While I have written twice over the last week about eastern Europe being the weakest link in the world of global finance, Mauldin and his colleague Niels Jensen of Absolute Return Partners provided insights and analysis that is numbing.

Why is George Soros short the euro? Let me provide a synopsis of Mauldin’s and Jensen’s “Europe On the Ropes.” Assuming those visiting Sense on Cents have an interest in the markets and economy, this piece is somewhat lengthy, but a MUST READ!! A link is provided at the end of my review. (more…)

A Virtual Smorgasbord

Posted by Larry Doyle on March 2nd, 2009 4:24 PM |

On the heels of the news about AIG, Berkshire, and HSBC, the equity markets have found no support today and are down 4%. While the malaise of the markets has much of the focus, let’s review a few other items that I see on today’s menu:

1. In regard to AIG, current CEO Edward Liddy and former CEO Hank Greenberg have started some public feuding over the nature of AIG’s problems. Greenberg is trying to make the case that the risks underwritten at AIG occurred after his departure. Liddy responded that the culture, the compensation system, and the division housing the bulk of AIG’s risk all developed under Greenberg.  Wow!! When our country is screaming for leadership, we have senior executives playing the blame game and pointing fingers. How pathetic!! (more…)

The Weakest Link is Weakening

Posted by Larry Doyle on March 2nd, 2009 6:00 AM |

The other day I highlighted the fact that 12 eastern European countries would solicit a bailout from the European Union over the weekend in Brussels. I defined this bloc of eastern European countries as currently the Weakest Link in the global economy. Well, if they were the weakest link then they just got weaker as they were rebuffed in their request for aid.

The dynamic at work in the weekend’s emergency meeting held in Brussels is a play on beggar-thy-neighbor policies implemented during times of economic stress.

There are actually a number of factors influencing the European Union’s refusal to provide bailout money to these eastern European nations. Included in these factors are the following: (more…)

Why Are Interest Rates Headed Higher?

Posted by Larry Doyle on March 1st, 2009 3:57 PM |

While our domestic stock markets are down approximately 50% over the last 14 months, there has been a rush of cash into short term money market funds, government bond funds, and in the last few months corporate bond funds and municipal bond funds. As I mentioned in my February 2009 Market Review, I am increasingly nervous about bond investments at this juncture. Why? I’m glad you asked.

1. Primarily due to the massive global government funding needs which are just starting to hit the market. In a recent piece, the highly regarded Financial Times projects global government debt issuance to TRIPLE in 2009.

German Prime Minister Angela Merkel is concerned about European countries looking to tap the markets on or near the same dates. She is proposing global coordination of debt issuance so as to insure that rates are not DRIVEN higher. (more…)

“My Mama Told Me . . .

Posted by Larry Doyle on February 28th, 2009 2:20 PM |

. . . You Better Shop Around.”  

What does that wonderful song from Smokey Robinson and the Miracles have to do with our economy? I’ll tie that in a bit later.

More and more people are inquiring of me how and why banks are making credit tighter both in terms of availability and in terms of rates charged.

This tightening of credit is due to the “crowding out effect” from dramatically increased government borrowing along with the actuality and likelihood of increased defaults across all consumer and corporate loans. In the face of those defaults, banks will set aside more capital in reserve to cushion those losses.

What is a consumer to do? There are two tactics:

1. Everything’s Negotiable which I highlighted in a post dated December 23, 2008. Talk to your bankers and/or credit providers. Put your banks and other credit providers in competition. Where does one start and how does one easily comparison shop? I’m glad you asked because that leads me to point #2.

2. Shop around (thank you, Smokey)!  Sense on Cents provides links via our Primers (in the right sidebar) for a look across the market to virtually every consumer credit need. Remember I have NO professional relationship with any of these entities. From borrowing needs to investing, with many stops in between, I hope these primers help you navigate the economic landscape going forward!!

And now, a trip down memory lane . . .

 

The Weakest Link

Posted by Larry Doyle on February 27th, 2009 10:45 AM |

It is widely believed that the weakest link in the global economy centers on Eastern Europe. In light of that, the leaders of 12 eastern European countries are holding an emergency economic summit this weekend. From that summit, it is expected that these countries will request an international bailout.

 As of now it appears the countries in greatest degree of stress are Hungary, Ukraine, and Serbia. The expectation is that the group of countries will request the European Union to arrange a $230 billion bailout package. Who would provide the funding? A conglomerate of European Central Banks, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, European Investment Bank, and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

A major issue for eastern Europe is that their creditors, largely western European banks along with western European countries, are not exactly in great shape themselves. These countries may look to accelerate their entry into the EU and the full adoption of the Euro along with it.

As the pressure and stress builds, the chance of political dislocation also grows.   

For further details on how Hungary Seeks $230 Billion Bailout for Eastern Europe.  I will be monitoring this situation as it develops.  As our global economy is very much interconnected, the increase in sovereign credit risks is a very serious concern. 

LD






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