Sunday, September 28, 2008

It's a great time to invest!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Botched Bailouts

I've been following the government's many recent financial bailouts (Fannie and Freddie, AIG) and interventions (Term Lending and Auction Facilities, short selling rules, RTCII) fairly closely.

There has been much discussion of how deregulation of the financial industry lead to this crisis - especially in the case of the (former) five firms that 'enjoyed' net capital exemptions from the SEC - and how the government's recent actions smack of socialist policies.

Until Friday, I had not read anything about how these actions may have exacerbated the financial crisis. Jim Jubak does a superb job of outlining how these rescues have actually made some things worse. The whole article is worth reading, but the highlights are below.

[I]n the name of creating an orderly liquidation of a company such as Lehman Bros., they create a mad scramble to get paid before the bankruptcy court can act.

By wiping out the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac preferred stock, the Fed and Treasury killed off any possibility that some other financial institution in need of capital could raise cash by selling these dividend-paying shares.

[T]he Treasury and Fed have ensured that no conservative, income-seeking investor in his or her right mind would buy preferred stock from a troubled financial company looking for capital.

After drawing a line in the sand and saying no more bailouts, the Fed and Treasury ponied up $85 billion in taxpayer cash to go into the insurance business. Their excuse for the about-face: Though the Fed had planned for a Lehman bankruptcy, it hadn't modeled a failure at AIG and couldn't predict the consequences of letting the company go into bankruptcy. That's not reassuring.
Botched rescues are killing markets
Jubak's Journal 9/19/2008 12:01 AM ET

Monday, September 8, 2008

No Longer Seeking Alpha

I will stop frequenting and reading Seeking Alpha because of this:

UPDATE: It appears Seeking Alpha and Barry Ritholtz reached an agreement, as Seeking Alpha has renamed "The Big Picture" as "The Macro View".

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Lehman Finds Suitor

Breaking News: Lehman To Be Acquired by Tooth Fairy

The market responded with enthusiasm to reports that the Tooth Fairy has agreed to acquire Lehman. The purchase price has not yet been determined and will be set by Dick Fuld wishing upon a star, clicking his heels three times, and being transported back to that magical place where Lehman still sells for over $70 per share.

In related news, Lehman has agreed to sell all of its level III capital, including CDOs, ABSs, pet rocks, baseball cards, slightly used condoms, and credit default swaps written by MBIA and Ambac. Lehman’s level III capital will be acquired for 150% of its face value by Tinkerbell, who will carry it off to Neverland to be fed to a crocodile. Lehman is financing 90% of the acquisition at an interest rate that has not been announced; Tinkerbell’s up-front payment consists of a handful of pixie dust, three crickets, and a bullfrog. Analyst Dick Bove estimates that the bullfrog could eventually be transformed into three princes and a pumpkin coach. The deal gives Lehman no recourse to any of Tinkerbell’s assets other than the Level III capital. If Tinkerbell defaults, Lehman’s successor entity will stick its hand down the crocodile’s throat and attempt to get it to regurgitate. The firm’s historical value-at-risk analysis shows that sticking your hand down a crocodile’s throat is completely safe.

Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson issued a statement: “I am delighted that SWFs (Sovereign Wealth Fairies) continue to express confidence in the terrific values represented by American financial institutions. As I have been saying since August of 2007, this shows that the crisis is now over.”

Meanwhile, the SEC has announced an investigation of mean, evil, bad short-seller David Einhorn. While out for a beer with a friend, Einhorn reportedly suggested that the Tooth Fairy does not exist and that wishing upon a star is not a wholly reliable price discovery mechanism. Christopher Cox, chairman of the SEC, said, “Vicious rumors attacking the Tooth Fairy will not be tolerated. Our entire financial system and indeed the American way of life depend on the Tooth Fairy and wishing upon a star. How else could one value level III capital appropriately?” The SEC is reportedly planning to set up re-education camps for short-sellers.

Lehman, the Tooth Fairy and the Revenge of the Short-Sellers
Posted by Heidi N. Moore
Deal Journal, August 25, 2008, 10:56 am