Rolfe Winkler

House votes to give “clunkers” $2 billion more

July 31, 2009

Earlier I expressed my displeasure with C4C.  I’m unhappy to see the House has voted to expand it.  Reuters:

Lunchtime Links 7-31

July 31, 2009

White House says cash for clunkers will go on (NYT)  Note that the administration hasn’t yet promised new funding.  So yeah, the program is good through the weekend, but the key will be whether there is a new appropriation.  Michigan Senator Carl Levin is quoted in the article exhorting people to rush to their dealers to buy now.  The more transactions he can stuff through the channel, the more pressure he puts on Obama to make a new appropriation.

Cash for Clunkers blows through $1 billion in 1 week

July 31, 2009

The subsidy for the auto sector cloaked as an environmental program has already run through its budget.  (WaPo):

Cuomo releases ugly details on bank bonuses

July 30, 2009

NY Attorney General Andrew Cuomo released his report on bonuses at the TARP Top 9.  At these firms alone, over 800 people made north of $3 million in 2008.  That’s a lot of scharole.  See Appendix B for the bonus breakdown at each bank.

Lunchtime Links 7-30

July 30, 2009

(send links, pics, vids to optionarmageddon at gmail)

Did Warren Burger create the health care mess (Slate)  Interesting article.  It claims a 1975 Supreme Court decision paved the way for medical entrepreneurship, which the author says has been detrimental.  I’m sure in some cases it has been.  But I scratch my head when I read this:  “The idea that health care is a legitimate arena for investment is monstrous.”  Investment in medicine is bad?  An intriguing thought, not well enough explained.

Foreclosures up again

July 30, 2009

Late last night, RealtyTrac updated its foreclosure data through the end of June.

Evening Links 7-29

July 30, 2009

(send links, pics, vids to rolfe.winkler at thomsonreuters)

Desperate AZ may sell capitol buildings to raise money (Arizona Republic)

Accounting gimmicks help Wells Fargo (and others) boost profits (WSJ)

FDIC poised to split banks to lure buyers (WSJ)  “The strategy, which is likely to begin soon, is aimed at selling the most distressed hunks of failed banks to private-equity firms and other types of investors who may be more willing than traditional banks to take a flier on bad assets. The traditional banks could then bid on the deposits, branches and other bits of the failed institution that are appealing.”

Fed walks the tightrope

July 29, 2009

economist

(Cartoon from The Economist, click to enlarge)

NEW YORK, July 29 (Reuters) – The sound money set remains concerned that the Federal Reserve’s emergency actions to corral collapse could ignite hyperinflation.  In particular, they point to the explosion of excess reserves inside the banking system, which they call dry tinder just waiting for the spark of recovery.  Bill Dudley, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, says this isn’t an issue because the Fed now pays interest on excess reserves.  It’s a good argument, but only in the short run.

“Madoff: Can’t believe I got away with it”

July 29, 2009

Great stuff from ABC News this morning:

“There were several times that I met with the SEC and thought ‘they got me,’” Madoff told Joseph Cotchett, a San Francisco lawyer threatening to sue his wife, sons and brother on behalf of a group of victims.

Lunchtime Links 7-28

July 28, 2009

(send links, pics, vids to optionarmageddon at gmail)

Tenacious G (NY Mag)  Another good article on Goldman.  Most useful is the commentary regarding the $13 billion AIG collateral payments and the $28 billion worth of FDIC-guaranteed debt.  Without those bailouts, Goldman would be gone.  I’d always thought that was true.  Helpful to have confirmation.

Banks still need bigger cushions (Q2 TCE update)

July 28, 2009

reuters-logoIt was a surreal moment two weeks ago when analysts on Goldman Sachs’ earnings conference call pressed CFO David Viniar to jack up leverage. They seem to think that the worst of the credit crisis is behind us, so Goldman should goose its risk profile to increase returns. This is remarkably short-sighted.

AOL’s valuation off 97% from peak. Now a good investment?

July 28, 2009

In a regulatory filing this evening (see page 54), Time Warner announced that it bought back Google’s stake in AOL, for a 97% discount to what it paid in January 2000.  If AOL stock gets floated at a similar valuation, it might be a good value play.

Morning Links 7-27

July 27, 2009

Fitch: Five firms hold 80% of derivatives risk (CFO)  The five banks—Chase, Goldman, Morgan Stanley, Citi and BofA—also account for 96% of exposure to credit derivatives among 100 companies studied.

Friday six-pack

July 24, 2009

Among tonight’s failures are the six bank subsidiaries of Security Bank in—you guessed it—Georgia.  Taken together the six are quite substantial in terms of assets and deposits.  But first…

Who are Bernanke’s top 25?

July 24, 2009

How many too-big-to-fail financials might be subject to additional oversight under Obama’s regulatory reform bill?  According to Ben Bernanke: roughly 25.