Agnes's Feed
Jun 3, 2011
via Breakingviews

U.S. government’s housing hangover may last years

The U.S. government is already up to its neck in housing. Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration, all wards of Uncle Sam, now have a combined 290,000 foreclosed homes they need to unload. That doesn’t even count the million-plus that could end up on their books.

The government effectively owns more foreclosed homes than private-sector banks, thrifts and credit unions combined. That’s even after spending trillions of dollars trying to shore up the housing market since the dawn of the financial crisis. Data released earlier this week showed home prices plumbing new post-crunch lows, suggesting the housing hole could still get deeper.

May 19, 2011
via Breakingviews

BlackRock should show up on regulatory radars

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

BlackRock’s $2.5 billion stock buyback from Bank of America is the latest sign of its growing might. Boss Larry Fink doesn’t think his firm is too big to fail. And it’s not comparable to a bank. But BlackRock’s $3.65 trillion of assets and increasing influence still make it systemically important.

May 17, 2011
via Breakingviews

Poetic justice as Chrysler tries to refinance

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

What goes around, comes around. Two years ago, the U.S. government bullied loan investors into accepting the steep losses involved in Chrysler’s bankruptcy plan. Now, they have the upper hand as the automaker seeks fresh borrowing of $6 billion to pay back the Treasury. The creditors are pressing their advantage.

May 10, 2011
via Breakingviews

U.S. munis: no disaster, but still vulnerable

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

Call it headline risk. Bad press, along with stressed U.S. state finances, hammered America’s local government debt last year. But the $3 trillion market was never in as bad shape as the doomsayers made out. Still, an improving market — gains in 18 out of the last 19 trading sessions through Monday, according to Janney Capital Markets — isn’t immune to stumbles as dysfunctional states tackle budget woes.

May 6, 2011
via Breakingviews

U.S. jobs recovery finally looking less temporary

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

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke saw green shoots in the U.S. economy more than two years ago. The labor market may at last be growing roots to match. Nonfarm payrolls swelled by a larger-than-expected 244,000 in April, according to data released on Friday. That makes three consecutive months of solid gains.

May 6, 2011

Oil’s slide below $100 sets record straighter

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

By Agnes T. Crane

NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) – It was almost a slow-motion echo of the flash crash exactly a year ago. As then, Thursday’s plunge in the oil price to under $100 and the continued slide in silver and other commodities reflected not one factor but many. With Federal Reserve policy stoking speculation, U.S. data suggesting another slowdown and Europe running at two speeds, more volatile trading may be the logical response.

May 2, 2011
via Breakingviews

Buffett inadvertently nails it evoking Salomon

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

OMAHA, Nebraska — Warren Buffett, to his credit, dove right in to the David Sokol affair. Early at the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholders meeting on Saturday, the Oracle of Omaha compared his one-time deputy’s dealing in Lubrizol shares to the scandal that rocked Salomon Brothers two decades ago. Buffett called both events “inexcusable” and “inexplicable.” Yet he overlooked the more significant link to the Wall Street bank he once partly owned and led as chairman. The rogue trading at Salomon exposed poor controls.

Apr 29, 2011

Time for Buffett to consider a Berkshire breakup

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

By Agnes T. Crane

NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) – Warren Buffett has many unpleasant questions to address at Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting on Saturday. Former heir apparent David Sokol’s stock dealings have raised concerns over the company’s internal controls and even about the billionaire’s judgment. But one subject may be a step too far for the Buffett faithful congregating in Omaha: Isn’t it time to consider breaking up the company?

Apr 28, 2011
via Breakingviews

Berkshire board tries cleaning up Buffett’s mess

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

By Agnes T. Crane

Berkshire Hathaway’s directors are cleaning up after their chairman. The audit committee’s findings that David Sokol, one-time heir apparent to Warren Buffett, misled the company and violated its ethical standards should help restore confidence in Berkshire’s corporate governance. But just days before the annual shareholder meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, it raises even more questions about how Buffett handled the matter.

Apr 20, 2011
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White House in a pickle over its GM exit plan

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

It’s no secret the Obama administration would prefer to offload the U.S. government’s remaining stake in General Motors. Adding a successful exit from at least one of the automakers it bailed out to the profits made on Uncle Sam’s banking exploits would be a handy feather in the president’s cap as the election season heats up. So reports that the U.S. Treasury is considering another stock sale later this year should come as no surprise. The trouble is GM’s shares aren’t cooperating.