Posted by Larry Doyle on July 5th, 2009 8:46 AM |
When business operations make money, it is due to the brains and intellect of management, correct? When business operations lose money, it is some sort of nefarious measure at work in the marketplace which can be ‘corrected’ by changing the rules, correct? The implementation of the relaxation of the FASB’s (Federal Accounting Standard Board’s) mark-to-market utilizes that thought process. Make no mistake, it is flawed and simply allows financial institutions to ‘manage earnings,’ otherwise known as “cook the books.”
We receive a whiff of this recipe in a report by the Wall Street Journal, Home Loan Banks See Net Income Decline 51%. I have maintained that the basic business model of the FHLBs is flawed and we see evidence of this in the fact that outstanding advances (loans) by the FHLBs to their member banks actually decreased in the 1st quarter of this year:
Total advances outstanding from the banks declined to $817.41 billion as of March 31 from $928.64 billion three months earlier. After surging in 2007 and early 2008, demand for those advances has slackened, partly because of the recession and partly because the federal government has offered alternative funding programs for commercial banks.
Without even maintaining the level of advances, the FHLB system is coming under increasing pressure to generate earnings in the face of increasing delinquencies, defaults, and foreclosures on all of their holdings–advances, mortgage originations, and mortgage-backed securities purchased from Wall Street. (more…)
Posted by Larry Doyle on April 18th, 2009 9:21 AM |
In reviewing bank earnings this week, I truly get the sense with a number of institutions that they determine just how much they want or need to outperform analyst expectations and then they figure out how to “manage” the books in order to get there.
This “managed earnings” process can be played for an extended period, but ultimately the earnings – or more importantly “hidden losses” – come out in the wash.
Citigroup played this game yesterday. The NY Times reports, After Year of Losses, Citigroup Finds a Profit. I give the Times credit; they did not report that Citigroup generated a profit, but that they found it. Where did they find it? The Times offers:
Like several other banks that reported surprisingly strong results this week, Citigroup used some creative accounting, all of it legal, to bolster its bottom line at a pivotal moment.
Citi utilized creative accounting supported by the pressure applied by Congress on the FASB. Where is the pressure applied by the SEC and FINRA on behalf of investors? Isn’t it only fair that somebody speaks up for investors? Is the SEC and FINRA in bed with Congress to “play the game?” Let’s move on.
The top rated banking analyst on the street chimes in: (more…)
Posted by Larry Doyle on April 9th, 2009 3:56 PM |
Any investor or manager with a degree of experience knows that the “first loss is the best loss.” What do I mean by that? Once the market detects a loss or a weakened position, the price for that asset will remain capped unless and until the asset is sold or liquidated. This price action occurs in every sector of every market.
Welcome to the world of global finance 2009. As banks, insurance companies, hedge funds, and other financial entities deal with losses, we see a lack of aggressive posture being taken on dealing with these losses. Why? Once moral hazard is violated with a single entity, every other entity will look to violate it as well.
Immediate losses are forestalled in hopes that they will be covered or disguised. However, every loss ultimately must be recognized. By whom and how is the question.
At this juncture, more of the losses in our financial system are being directed toward the taxpayers. How? Via the wide array of government programs. What is the cost? A likely underperforming economy due to a lack of credit, and higher taxes to offset lower revenues. (more…)
Posted by Larry Doyle on April 7th, 2009 5:45 AM |
I am no fan of George Soros. I often believe he does not draw a hard line between his political interests and his business interests. His active support with MoveOn.org has made a mockery of any attempt to achieve campaign finance reform.
That said, for those involved in global finance, whether you like George Soros or not, you need to know what he is thinking. Why? George Soros can move markets via his own investment strategies. Additionally, there is little doubt that George is the epicenter in a massive flow of market sensitive information.
To that end, Soros gave a stinging indictment of the change in the FASB’s mark-to-market by stating in a Bloomberg interview,
the change to fair-value accounting rules will keep troubled banks in business, stalling a recovery of the U.S. economy.
“This is part of the muddling through scenario where we are going to keep zombie banks alive,” Soros, 78, said today in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “It’s going to sap the energies of the economy.”
Is this statement a self-serving offering by Soros? Who knows? Is it an attempt to further promote the U.S. as a lessened power? Perhaps. That said, there are others, myself included, who believe the relaxation of the mark-to-market, especially for outfits like Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, and the 12 regional Federal Home Loan Banks (FHLBs) is nothing short of a charade.
Did Soros’ statement have an impact on the market? Not today. The dollar has been improving of late. However, over the longer haul, the cost of having a number of zombie-like banking institutions will be pressure on the dollar along with increased borrowing costs for the zombie institutions or Uncle Sam who will be backing them.
From a personal perspective, would you lend money to a zombie?
And now, here’s a must-watch little treat. Crank up your speakers . . .