Agnes's Feed
Aug 13, 2013
via Breakingviews

Bill Ackman’s plate-spinning act gets dangerous

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By Agnes T. Crane
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

Bill Ackman is always ready for a fight – just maybe not so many at once. The activist hedge fund boss is embarking on a campaign at $22 billion Air Products & Chemicals amid high-profile tussles with Procter & Gamble, Herbalife and beyond. Resigning from the J.C. Penney board is prudent for more reasons than one. Ackman’s plate-spinning act is getting dangerous.

Aug 7, 2013

Junk bond market could use another taper tantrum

(Updates to add information on ConvaTec.) (The author is a
Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her
own.)

By Agnes T. Crane

NEW YORK, Aug 7 (Reuters Breakingviews) – The junk bond
market could use another taper tantrum. Just weeks after last
month’s flight over leaping interest rates, fixed income
investors are back for some exotic and unsavory deals. Buyout
firms are funding whopper payouts for themselves using
IOU-paying bonds. So long as the Federal Reserve soft-sells its
exit, debt buyers will do the same.

Jul 26, 2013

UBS $885 mln payout is big win for FHFA’s DeMarco

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions
expressed are her own.)

By Agnes T. Crane

NEW YORK, July 26 (Reuters Breakingviews) – The $885 million
UBS (UBSN.VX: Quote, Profile, Research) settlement with the Federal Housing Finance Agency
is a big win for Edward DeMarco. As head of the U.S. agency that
oversees Fannie Mae (FNMA.OB: Quote, Profile, Research) and Freddie Mac (FMCC.OB: Quote, Profile, Research), he has
become one of the most reviled regulators inside the beltway.
The legal victory should earn him some well-deserved respect.

Jul 22, 2013

Detroit bankruptcy is doing bondholders a favor

By Agnes T. Crane

NEW YORK, July 22 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Detroit’s
bankruptcy is doing bondholders a favor. The failed city wants
to include debt in its restructuring that the $3.7 trillion
municipal bond market considers sacrosanct. It’s another example
of investors ignoring the limited options governments have to
honor their debts.

At issue are Detroit’s general obligation (GO) bonds. This
type of commitment is most akin to sovereign debt, since the
government pledges to use its taxing power to pay back lenders
in full and on time. Many assumed that such a promise gave GO
bonds a stronger claim on assets than run-of-the-mill unsecured
debt, including pension and other retirement obligations.

Jul 17, 2013

Breakingviews- BofA looks like Wall Street’s biggest loser

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions
expressed are her own.)

By Agnes T. Crane

NEW YORK, July 17 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Bank of America
(BAC.N: Quote, Profile, Research) looks like Wall Street’s biggest loser. Sadly, it’s not
for getting in shape by shedding unwanted flab. The Charlotte,
North Carolina-based bank is improving, at least –
second-quarter profit, reported Wednesday, surged 63 percent
from the same period last year, though unlike at its main
rivals, fixed income trading fell. But compared to fellow crisis
laggards Morgan Stanley (MS.N: Quote, Profile, Research) and Citi (C.N: Quote, Profile, Research), BofA’s returns
are poor, its book value stagnant and its stock moribund.

Jun 27, 2013

Finance 101 would get U.S. pensions back on track

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions
expressed are her own.)

By Agnes T. Crane

NEW YORK, June 27 (Reuters Breakingviews) – A little Finance
101 would get U.S. pensions back on track. Illinois, Connecticut
and New Jersey are among the states that neglected the most
powerful force in retirement saving: compound returns. Their
pension burdens are much heavier in part because they
short-changed funds by not contributing the recommended amount,
according to a new study from Moody’s Investors Service. It’s
time to revisit the basics.

Jun 26, 2013

Market bloodletting may be more 2003 than 1994

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions
expressed are her own.)

By Agnes T. Crane

NEW YORK, June 26 (Reuters Breakingviews) – The bloodletting
in financial markets may be more 2003 than 1994. Bankers are
smart to ask if the recent jump in rates could cause a replay of
bond pain two decades ago. But 2003 may be a better comparison.
Markets threw a hissy fit when the Fed signaled easy money would
end. But it didn’t last long. More importantly, nothing big blew
up.

Jun 25, 2013
via Breakingviews

Is Ben Bernanke wrong, or is QE impotent?

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By Agnes T. Crane and Edward Hadas

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

Investors are clearly upset, but it’s hard to know why. The chronology is clear. The rout in global markets – from U.S. Treasuries to copper, from Shanghai stocks to junk bonds – started after Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, suggested that the American economy might soon be strong enough to need less monetary support from the central bank. The causality is another matter.

Jun 20, 2013
via Breakingviews

Bernanke should be international man of mystery

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By Agnes T. Crane and Jeffrey Goldfarb
The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

Ben Bernanke should be more of an international man of mystery. Though the Fed chairman has embraced a more communicative approach than his predecessors, the benefits aren’t always obvious. Based on the latest reaction, investors are parsing his comments as much as they did Alan Greenspan’s. Maybe fewer words would say more.

Jun 12, 2013
via Breakingviews

New York watchdog protests too much over insurance

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By Agnes T. Crane
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

 

New York’s financial watchdog is protesting too much over insurance. The state’s brash regulator, Benjamin Lawsky, rubbed fellow overseers the wrong way when he broke ranks to go after Standard Chartered over money laundering. Now he may be doing the same again. His capital-inflation beefs are legitimate, but other U.S. regulators are on the case. What’s needed is coordination, not a vigilante.