Blogs

  • Category 2 Hits Texas, Cat 4 Hits Wall Street

    While Hurricane Ike ravaged the Gulf Coast over the weekend, there was a major financial storm on Wall Street on Saturday and Sunday. Lehman Brothers, the fourth largest US investment bank, announced on Sunday that it was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Shortly thereafter Bank of America announced that it was gobbling up brokerage giant Merrill Lynch for a mere $45-50 billion in stock. If that weren't enough, insurance giant AIG is in serious financial condition and is requesting $70-75 billion in new loans to stay afloat. These latest developments are the next chapter in the subprime mortgage/credit crisis, and they took a heavy toll on the stock markets yesterday. I will sort it all out for you in the pages that follow....
  • The Real Risks of Deleveraging

    The deleveraging process that is dramatically impacting the economy and markets has two very serious consequences to it. One deals directly with the insane process of mark-to-market of illiquid, opaque assets. The other pertains to the effects deleveraging...
    Posted to Musing on the Markets by Vinny Catalano, CFA on 09-16-2008
  • Congratulations to Chuck...

    * Great news from Chuck... * FOMC could lower rates... * TIC flows to slow... * Yen and SFR continue to rally... ** Congratulations to Chuck... Good day... I want to start this mornings Pfennig off with a note Chuck sent the trade desk last night: "The doctor called, and I'm CLEAN! My scans were clean, and, I'm officially off the Sutent, and considered a "Cancer Survivor" now! YIPPEE!" I know the markets are in a state of turmoil, but that great news from Chuck took precedence over anything I could write about the currencies. It looks like Chuck's positive attitude along with all of our prayers have beaten back the cancer (I guess his doctors and the new medicines deserve some of the credit also). Congratulations to Chuck, can't wait to shake his hand when he returns from the first week of the FXU tour. But now lets move on to the markets. I was so focused on the Wall Street turmoil yesterday that I failed to mention the FOMC will be meeting today. Just a few weeks ago, the markets were calling for an interest rate increase by the Fed to tackle inflation. But the events of this past weekend, along with a dramatic drop in the price of oil, has many calling for another interest rate cut. The Central Bank has already injected billions of money into the markets to try and calm them after the bankruptcy of Lehman. The Federal Reserve yesterday added $70 billion in reserves, the most since the September 2001 terrorist attacks. The funds were needed as banks and financial firms tightened up their lending in reaction to the financial turmoil....
  • The Fall of Lehman and The Terrible Lessons of Bear Stearns

    The weekend has brought us events that can only be described in large, over-the-top terms. The Fed agreeing to take equity on its balance sheet? How bad can things really be? Clearly much worse than most people thought last Friday. Moral Hazard has been re-introduced as Lehman is allowed to go down. I will admit to being surprised. I thought Paulson and Bernanke would put it in the too big too fail category. I think they did the right thing by refusing taxpayer money for a bailout, but it is clearly going to roil the credit markets for weeks and months. It will be interesting to see how long it lasts....
  • Financial storms claim two more...

    * Financial storms claim two more victims... * Yen and Swiss Francs move back up... * Euro approaches 1.45 before reversing course... * Oil below $100... ** Financial storms claim two more... Good day... The financial storm claimed another victim this weekend as Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. filed for bankruptcy after being unable to find a buyer. Bank of America, who was rumored to be bidding on Lehman ended up buying Merrill Lynch & Co and AIG Inc. is asking the fed for an emergency loan. All of this financial turmoil has sent the dollar lower vs. most of the major currencies as investors are beginning to realize the situation in the US markets is worse than the rest of the world. Over the past three months, currency traders have rallied the dollar on the basis that the US was in better shape than Europe. They will now need to rethink their strategies, as the past few weekends show just how bad the US financial sector is ailing. And unfortunately, their will likely be more to come. Risk aversion is a popular theme in the markets again, and the purchase of US treasuries actually helped to keep the US$ from falling further....
  • Housing: Are We Near the Bottom?

    This week we look at the housing market in some detail. When can we expect it to turn around? Part of the problem is a new wave of foreclosures is coming due, and this time it is not subprime. And that means more problems for the large financial companies. Also, as predicted here, consumer spending is taking a hit as consumers are finding it increasingly difficult to get credit and a deteriorating labor market hits total spending. There are some very interesting details in the data that was released this week. And we take a quick peek at the outlook for inflation. What is in the pipeline, so to speak? It should make for an interesting letter....
  • Your Home as a Retirement Fund?

    Is home equity a foundation of your retirement fund? Apparently it is for a number of people. Both anecdotal evidence and some consumer surveys indicate that a number of Baby Boomers plan to "retire on the house." The plan is especially prevalent...
    Posted to Retirement Watch by Bob Carlson on 09-12-2008
  • The Room 09/12/2008

    In today's "special" edition of the Room, I want to go somewhat beyond the latest news and observations on same. Instead, I want to discuss the big picture as it relates to the U.S. and global economy. I do so because it is growing more important with each passing day to get a solid fix on where things stand and, more importantly, where they are going next and how you can protect yourself. It's hard to overstate just how unpredictable and dangerous the economic and investment environment has become. While these are topics we'll be covering in today's online event, Casey's Crisis & Opportunity Update, the situation at this point is moving so fast, and is so highly charged, that it is time to pay very, very close attention to things. As you should expect, we have been furiously fingering the tea leaves in an attempt to make actionable sense out of the big moves now in motion. While there is much that we know about the unfolding events, there is also much that is unknowable – for instance, how much longer the long-suffering foreign holders of U.S. dollars will be patient....
  • Dollar bulls take a breather...

    * Dollar bulls take a breather... * Paulson is out of control... * From the mouth of babes... * Fingers crossed for Chuck... ** Dollar bulls take a breather... Good day...Just as Chuck predicted, we had a Thundering Thursday yesterday, as thunderstorms moved into the St Louis area early yesterday and are expected to stick around throughout the weekend. Yesterday was a pretty slow day in the currency markets, with the dollar trading in a fairly tight range, but overnight the dollar changed direction and we saw it lose ground across the board for the first time in weeks. This turnaround was seen in the European markets as traders finally started to realize the speed of the increase in the US$ was overdone. But before I get going this morning, I need to run a public service announcement for Chuck. Yesterday's Pfennig announced that the Reserve Bank of New Zealand cut interest rates .25%. This was in error, the bank actually cut .50% to a rate of 7.5%. Chuck realized his error just after hit the send button, and wanted to make sure I let everyone know (He received more than a few emails from readers letting him know his error). The extra quarter point cut was aimed at giving the NZD a good jump start, and Governor Alan Bollard is indicating more rate cuts will be on the way: "We've got room to move,.. We're in a loosening mode." The reaction of the currency markets was the same with a 50 bps cut as it would have been with a 25 bps cut, they sold off the kiwi as the interest rate differentials narrowed....
  • Week of 09/11/2008

    In This Issue:

    Feds Ease The Mortgage Threat, But Create New Problems
    Housing Is Now More Political Than Ever
    Top-Yielding CDs Blast Treasury Returns
    India's Outsourcing Stocks Are Again Attractive
    The Bottom Line This Week

    Two weeks ago, investors were inclined to ignore moderately bad news because they were focused on what looked like a coming economic recovery. Last Thursday, however, the optimism evaporated when the unemployment rate jumped unexpectedly. Rumors of additional problems with insolvent hedge funds added to the angst, as did growing worries about the king-sized problems at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

    Investors put it all together and decided the outlook wasn't as encouraging as they first thought. In fact, it was starting to look as if a further economic slowdown could be in the works.

    When the new forecast made the rounds, the market dropped 345 points. We had a tepid 33 point rebound on Friday, but it fell into the faint praise category which actually deepened the gloom. When the final bell rang for the week, the Dow and the Nasdaq were down 2.8% and 4.7% respectively.

    Over the weekend, however, the outlook went from dead black to positively upbeat when Treasury Secretary Paulson announced his benevolent agency would rescue Fannie and Freddie. On Monday, jubilant investors pushed the market back up 290 points.

    ...
  • The Fear Side of the Greed and Fear Cycle

    “The only thing new in this world is the history that you don't know” Harry S. Truman Just as day follows night and spring follows winter so, too, does investor psychology follow the seasons of emotions from greed to fear and back. Behavioral...
    Posted to Musing on the Markets by Vinny Catalano, CFA on 09-11-2008
  • Falling In And Out Of Love...

    * Euro sinks to 1-year low... * RBNZ cuts rates 25 BPS... * Carry Trades continue to unwind... * Fannie and Freddie cause problems for banks... ** Falling In And Out Of Love... Good day... And a Thunderin' Thursday to you! Today we mark 7 years since the "monsters" attacked our great nation and thousands of lives were lost needlessly. My blood still boils at the thought of what happened on Sept 11, 2001, and the thoughts of the twin towers coming down still flashes in my mind. 7 years ago today, we witnessed the horrific scenes from terrorists in our country. I recall trying to come up with words the next day, and just couldn't, so I stuck to currencies, in attempt to keep things as normal as they could be. I hope everyone flies their flag today in remembrance of this day 7 years ago. OK... We're seeing a complete meltdown in the currencies this morning, folks.. The euro has fallen to the low 1.39 handle, and all is looking quite bleak for the single unit right now. Our metals trader, Kristin, sent me this note that she came across regarding the euro......
  • Scaredy Cats!

    * Not your father's currency traders.... * The euro does the rope-a-dope... * Deep Thoughts * Jimmy Rogers on the bail out... ** Scaredy Cats! Good day... And a Wonderful Wednesday to you! Hurricane Ike moves into the Gulf... Which way it goes from here isn't good for anyone. We had another day of watching the euro rally during the day, only to see it fizzle out by the end of the day. I go home each night and think all the way home about all this stuff going on, and wonder just who in their right minds would be buying dollars right now... Scaredy Cats that's who... So... Here you go... Deep Thoughts by chuck butler... Here's the skinny on that thought... Ever since the Fed, Bank of Japan (BOC), and European Central Bank (ECB) intervened in their coordinated, covert operation, market participants and traders are scared to death to short dollars, for fear of more intervention that could wipe out their trades, and post losses for them. Come on... These aren't the currency traders that I grew up with! Those traders took any Central Bank intervention as a "challenge" and would laugh in the face of Central Bank intervention! Central Bank intervention usually meant it was a desperate measure to shore up a currency, and that was like blood in the water for a shark... Currency traders would hit that currency even harder! But not these scaredy cats! That's one thing I think about... And then there's this......