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Reuters blog archive

from Breakingviews:

Goldman’s new conflict rules raise bigger question

By Jeffrey Goldfarb

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

Another day, another conflict of interest situation for Goldman Sachs. New internal rules at the securities firm impose fresh limits on bankers investing in specific stocks, bonds and hedge funds. Goldman knows too well how easy it is to cross a line when treading at its edge. The new policy raises a bigger question, though: Why are Wall Street dealmakers allowed to own individual securities at all?

No financial institution gets more attention for its handling of delicate, potentially hazardous relationship conundrums than Goldman. Its British advisers, for example, received a notorious “spank from Hank” – Lloyd Blankfein’s predecessor at the helm, Hank Paulson – back in 2006 when they followed a pitch to defend BAA with the possibility of Goldman buying a big stake in the operator of London’s Heathrow airport.

More recently, it was a U.S. court that took umbrage at Goldman’s unbecoming presence on both sides of a deal. Delaware Judge Leo Strine in 2012 called it “furtive” and “troubling” that Goldman owned a multibillion-dollar stake – and one of its senior energy bankers a smaller one – in Kinder Morgan while advising the pipeline operator’s takeover target El Paso. The bank surrendered its fee on the transaction after El Paso shareholders sued.

from Anatole Kaletsky:

Here’s what it will take to trigger the next stock market correction

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the market's opening in New York

As Wall Street hit another new record Thursday, it is worth considering what could cause a serious setback in stock market prices around the world. Since I started writing this column in 2012, I have repeatedly argued that the rebound in stock market prices from their nadir in the 2008-09 global financial crisis was turning into a structural bull market that could continue into the next decade.

Asset prices, however, never move in a straight line. It has been more than two years without even a 10 percent correction and five years without a 20 percent setback. This cannot go on.

from Anatole Kaletsky:

Markets: Exuberance is not always ‘irrational’

A pedestrian holding his mobile phone walks past an electronic board showing the stock market indices of various countries outside a brokerage in Tokyo

With the stock market continuing to hit new highs almost daily despite the appalling geopolitical disasters and human tragedies unfolding in Ukraine, Gaza, Syria and Iraq, there has been much head-scratching about the baffling indifference among investors. Many economists and analysts see this apparent complacency as a symptom of a deeper malaise: an “irrational exuberance” that has pushed stock prices to absurdly overvalued levels.

The most celebrated proponent of this view is Robert Shiller, the Nobel Prize-winning, Yale University economist who is often credited with predicting both the 2000 stock market crash and the bursting of the U.S. housing bubble. Shiller may or may not have deserved a Nobel Prize for his academic work on behavioral economics but as a practical guide to investing, his approach has been thoroughly refuted by real-world experience.

from India Insight:

Investors fear for their deposits after Sahara chief’s arrest

The arrest of Sahara chief Subrata Roy last week and the court case over an outlawed bond scheme are raising fears among some investors who worry they will not get their money back.

One of them is Anil. The 30-year-old travel agent put his 200,000 rupees ($3,276) in another investment scheme offered by Sahara, which bills itself as "the world’s largest family." He fears that the case could hurt his investment.

from Global Investing:

The annus horribilis for emerging markets

Last year was one that most emerging market investors would probably like to forget.  MSCI's main equity index fell 5 percent, bond returns were 6-8 percent in the red and some currencies lost up to 20 percent against the dollar.  Here are some flow numbers  from EPFR Global, the Boston-based agency that released some provisional  annual data to its clients late last week.

While funds dedicated to developed markets -- equities and bonds --  received inflows amounting to over 7 percent of their assets under management (AUM), funds investing in emerging stocks lost more than 6 percent of their AUM.

from Global Investing:

Pakistan, Nigeria, Bulgaria… the cash keeps coming

The frontier markets juggernaut continues. Here's a great graphic from Bank of America/Merrill Lynch showing the diverging fund flow dynamic into frontier and emerging equity markets.

What it shows, according to BofA/ML  is:

Frontier market funds with year-to-date inflows of $1.5 billion have decoupled from emerging markets ($2.1 billion outflows year-to-date)

from Breakingviews:

Vietnam is back in the game for buyout firms

By Andy Mukherjee

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

As one of the world’s few remaining communist states, Vietnam’s relationship with foreign capitalists is complex. That hasn’t stopped private equity group Warburg Pincus closing the first tranche of a $200 million investment in the country’s largest mall owner. It’s early days, but for global investors Vietnam may be back in the game.

from Unstructured Finance:

The retailization of the single family home rental play

By Matthew Goldstein

It started slowly but the push by Wall Street into the single family rental market is fast becoming a Main Street play as well.

Last year, one of the big stories on Wall Street and in the U.S. housing market was the push by institutional investors to raise billions of dollars to snap-up foreclosed homes and rent them out while waiting for the right time to sell them. It's become the biggest "long" bet on housing for private equity giants like Blackstone, which has already spent close to $3 billion buying up more than 16,000 foreclosed homes.

from Unstructured Finance:

What investors can look for in 2013

By Matthew Goldstein and Jennifer Ablan

Big money managers do not always agree--that's what makes a market--but if there was one consensus coming out of our just concluded Reuters Investment Outlook Summit, it's that next year will probably be another bang up one for the bond market.

Now the credit markets will have a tough time repeating the kind of numbers put up this year, especially with the Federal Reserve doing its darndest to push down borrowing costs and yields by buying  mortgage backed securities and even Treasuries. Speaker after speaker who joined us in New York said "junk" bonds, corporate debt, mortgage- and commercial-backed securities and even Treasuries "on a trading basis"  should do well for no other reason than credit markets still aren't showing anything close to the kind of froth we saw in the run-up to the financial crisis. The sense is that it may be another 2 or 3 years before we see excesses build up in the system again.

from Unstructured Finance:

UF Weekend Reads

Here's to getting out exclusive stories fast when need be. This week, pay close attention to Jamie Dimon, who will be on the congressional hot seat as he deals with questions over JPM's $2 billion plus trading loss. And without further ado, here's Sam Forgione's weekend reads:

 

From Fortune:

Peter Elkind and Doris Burke add more arc to the "human drama" of MF Global's collapse.

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