Unstructured Finance

Jim Chanos, bad news bear, urges market prudence

By Jennifer Ablan
December 9, 2013

Prominent short-seller Jim Chanos is probably one of the last true “bad news bears” you will find on Wall Street these days, save for Jim Grant and Nouriel Roubini. Almost everywhere you turn, money managers still are bullish on U.S. equities going into 2014 even after the Standard & Poor’s 500’s 27 percent returns year-to-date and the Nasdaq is back to levels not seen since the height of the dot-com bubble in 1999.

“I’m from the Treasury, and I’m here to help”

April 4, 2013

Ronald Reagan famously said that the “nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’” But according to a report from SNL, the government may actually help banks when it forces them to add directors to their boards. Every bank CEO’s worst nightmare is having the government name directors to his or her board. Usually, banks pack their boards with clients or prominent people that offer prestige and potential business leads, but little substantive oversight. At the smaller banks that SNL is focusing on, that often amounts to people like the owner of the local car dealership, or the owner of the local golf equipment seller. (For a stereotypical example of a community bank’s directors, consider the board of Smithtown Bancorp, which was sagging under the weight of failed loans before being taken over by People’s United Bank in 2010.)
The Treasury, on the other hand, tends to appoint people with actual banking experience, who can do what board members are supposed to do: keep an eye on management for the benefit of shareholders. The government only does so for banks that have lost their way: the Treasury has the right to name directors to boards of banks that received bailout money under the Troubled Asset Relief Program, and that missed six quarters of dividend payments. Typically, these appointees are bankers with more than 20 years of experience.
By SNL’s reckoning, the banks with Treasury-appointed directors have racked up median stock gains of 50.38 percent since taking on the new board members, compared with a median gain of 28.22 percent in an index of bank stocks.
Of course there may be other reasons for this outperformance – for example, it may be that small bank stocks in general have outperformed larger bank stocks over the relevant time frame, or that relatively weak banks have been in greater demand from value investors betting on an improving economy. But it may also be that the government has found a fix for the principal-agent problem at banks that have stumbled into trouble.

Cash is king in housing

March 26, 2013

By Matthew Goldstein

It’s no secret that housing in the U.S. has become an investors market, especially if it’s an investor with cash to burn.

Stevie, SAC and that ticking redemption clock

January 11, 2013

By Matthew Goldstein and Svea Herbst-Bayliss

The WSJ is out today with a big story saying Stevie Cohen and SAC Capital are bracing for up to $1 billion in redemptions, or roughly 16 percent of the $6.3 billion it manages for outside investors. That’s a lot of money but sources are telling us redemptions will likely come in lower than that—think more in the $500 million range.

No solution in sight for bipolar Indian stocks

November 20, 2012

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Thomson Reuters)

UF Weekend Reads

June 16, 2012

So there’s this election this Sunday in Greece and everyone–who follows the markets–is all excited. But at the end of the day, the main reason people in the markets are all up in arms is because they want to know who will get paid, in what order and most important–how much. Sadly, there’s too little focus on whether the right people/institutions are getting paid; let alone issues of social dignity and the quality of human existence. Guess that’s what the markets are all about, right?

Wall Street gold rush in foreclosed homes heads north

May 29, 2012

By Matthew Goldstein and Jennifer Ablan

The state of Alaska is looking to cash in on the growing demand for renting out foreclosed single-family homes.

Hedge funds try to hook up with pension funds

January 24, 2012

by Svea Herbst-Bayliss and Katya Wachtel

In investing, as in life,  it is critical to find the right partner.

On Tuesday in Boca Raton, big hedge funds including Tudor Investment Corp., Marathon Asset Management and York Capital, as well as smaller rivals like Voltan Capital Management and Titan Capital Group crowded into a large conference room for the hedge fund industry’s version of speed dating.

Hedge fund faithful descend on Boca Raton

January 23, 2012

By Svea Herbst-Bayliss and Katya Wachtel

Balmy temperatures and sunny skies greeted hedge fund industry managers, investors and lawyers as they gathered in Boca Raton, Florida, for 2012′s first prominent industry conference.

Phil Falcone’s ray of sunshine

December 12, 2011

By Matthew Goldstein

Leave it to Phil Falcone to find a glimmer of good news to relay to the beleaguered investors in his Harbinger Capital Partners. A day after U.S. securities regulators threatened to sanction the billionaire hedge fund manger for alleged trading irregularities, Falcone told investors in his roughly $4 billion firm that not all is lost.