House girds for second try on financial rescue (AP)
So now it goes down to the House of Commons, where all the principled right-wingers who voted against the first package, can now explain their desire to see a way more bloated, ridiculous bill pass. Yeah, that should be real fun. No doubt the Republican leadership Boehner and the other guy and Cantor are going to have one hell of a time whipping their base on this one. We’re not convinced it passes.
Futures pull back after Senate bailout plan vote (AP)
2008 Presidential Election Winner (Intrade)
Now this is starting to hold fairly steady — McCain has stayed at around .35 on the dollar for awhile, as his chances slip away every day the Iraq War is not the central issue of the election. That being said, we’ve totally bought into the “Palin can’t lose” notion for tonight’s debate. You know, cause of lowered expectations. It also signals what media wonks we are. As soon as we’re done with this, flippin’ over to some MSNBC.
UBS Has `Small’ Profit, Reduces Mortgage Holdings (Bloomberg)
We wish we could say this felt like an “end of the tunnel” moment. But unfortunately it feels more like a “cracks in the tunnel” moment, and the light is shining in where it shouldn’t be. Anyway, UBS (UBS!) actually reported a profit. Not a profit once you factor out the losses, but a small, sliverish profit. Ostensibly that means they ended the quarter with more money than they started with. The company said it’s reduced its exposure to the US mortgage market. It was UBS’ first profitable quarter in over a year. Sidenote: despite all of this, more layoffs are still coming.
Posts by Joe Weisenthal
House girds for second try on financial rescue (AP)
Most Asian markets recover on hopes for US bailout (AP)
Really, do we even need a bailout anymore? We had an awesome day yesterday, the Asian markets did great last night, consumer sentiment is back on track, the rate of home price declines is slowing, and Christmas shopping is right around the corner. It’s starting to look like we can just tighten the belts, get a few folks to stay in their homes, and then that $700 billion can be used on other stuff. Like bombers and spaceships and weird science projects. Or even just dedicate it directly to inflation, with no specific purpose. By the way, October already? Really?
U.S. Stock Futures Drop on Economy Concern; GE, Citigroup Fall (Bloomberg)
On the other hand, we may not be able to follow through. After paring some losses yesterday, today might be about paring that paring. It’s all very geometric and Fibonacci. Still, nothing too major or drastic at this point. Just like a percent or so for the major indices.
WWE Maintains High Dividend Yield
Some vital info here: World Wrestling Entertainment would like you to know that it won’t be chopping its dividend anytime soon. Got that? Some weaker companies, like banks, can do whatever they want, saving their money for purposes of capital preservation. But not so the WWE. If it may say so itself, in an actuall press release that came out last night: “The more than 9% dividend yield on WWE stock is 280% higher than the S&P average. WWE considers itself a safe harbor in the current volatile marketplace.” From their lips to god’s ears.
Futures indicating rebound after historic sell-off (RTT News)
Oh, see. We’re still here. The world hasn’t gone anywhere. In fact the stock market is looking up this morning. A few hundred points. Sure it’s just a sliver of what we lost yesterday. But did any banks fail last night? (Don’t answer). Seriously though, Wall Street better cut out this “buying” stuff if it wants a deal to happen (just kidding!). Of course, others will say that the market is only up on high expectations of a deal. See: Next story.
Senate May Try to Revive Bank-Rescue Bill by Tomorrow (Bloomberg)
Ah, the swift discipline of the markets. Despite the “death” of the bailout bill, the Senate plans to vote on something tomorrow, and pundits increasingly expect a deal by the end of the week. Basically, conviction is one thing, but it’s no match for diminished 401(k)s.
Market Drop Pressures Hedge Fund Managers (WSJ)
As part of that ideological gun being held to dissenting Republicans was the threat of end-of-quarter hedge fund redemptions, triggering a “cascade” of selling. Well, we’re getting to the end of the quarter here, so we’ll see if there’s anything to it. Though we can confirm to you that some dude on CNBC just said he didn’t think it was a real big deal.
2008 Presidential Election (Intrade)
Besides stocks, the other big loser in the markets was McCain. He’s not at 37 cents on the dollar. And just look at the state-by-state map. He’s basically losing everything that might be considered a tossup, from Florida to Ohio. We’re talking Reagan-Monday here. Ok, not that bad. Prediction: This will tight up. Were we betting, we’d be more bullish on McCain’s chances.
World markets fall as US bailout seen taking time (AP)
Look, we’re going to pass it, alright. Just hold your horses, and stop it with these nightly selloffs. We’re spending like $1 trillion of our own money here. And it’s pretty much a done deal. And after that the markets will be stablized. Pressuring us into passing it faster by selling off each night isn’t going to help. Unless. Unless the market is saying that even a bailout won’t help matters. Eh. Nah.
Credit Crunch Squeezes Franchisees (WSJ)
Sorta gotta feeling that the “Credit Crunch Squeezes _________” article could be a staple of business journalism for a while. You can pretty much fill in the blank with whomever you like: shipbuilders, farmer, sommeliers, basketball players, whoever. Anyway, today its franchisees, of all people.
Merkel’s Bavarian Allies Lose 50-Year Grip on Power (Bloomberg)
A little politics note that has nothing to do with the two candidates here: Angela Merke’s conservative majority in Germany has suffered a major blow, losing its grip on parliament. The news comes as the German economy (and the rest of Europe) pretty much goes to the tank. All around the world, parties in change are going to get whacked.
2008 Presidential Election Winner (Intrade)
And on the domestic politics front, Barack Obama now holds decisive leads in the polls and in the Intrade market he’s up almost 60-40. So, two questions then: What’s the October surprise, and how does he inevitably blow it? And if you really love the “Mac” here’s William Kristol on how he can revive his campaign. We’re not convinced that the answer is really “straight talk”.
Wild day, no deal (Politico)
We’re still really confused by what’s going on. They keep saying the deal is dead (fair enough), but it’s the Republican reps who are recalcitrant, but the Democrats have enough votes to pass it on their own, right? So why don’t the Dems — if they believe in it — just pass the damn thing. You know, man up. Anyway, apparently Treas. Sec. Hank Paulson actually got down on one knee in front of Speaker Pelosi. How odd.
Asian markets drop amid reports of U.S. bailout plan stalling (CBC)
Yeah, nobody in any market is going to be happy for awhile until they just go ahead and do something. Asian markets fell last night, as it became obvious that they’re farther away from a deal now than they have been yet. It’s a good thing McCain suspended his campaign, so politics wouldn’t interfere. That sounds sarcastic, though actually, we’re happy that they haven’t ramrodded some nonsense through all the name of bipartisanship, and the need to wreck the rule of law in times of crisis.
Sarkozy Stresses Global Financial Overhaul (NYT)
The Europeans are LOVING all of our problems, which is fine, since we’ve been known to laugh at them from time to time. Like, did you know that in Germany, because of socialized medicine, some dentists office have equipment from the 70s? HAHAHA. Anyway, Sarkozy says the age of global unregulated markets was over. Good for him. Also in Germany, a Minister said the age of “Anglo-Saxon banking” with its “fixation on returns” is over.
Money-Market Rates Rise Globally as U.S. Talks on Bailout Stall (Bloomberg)
Of course, they’re having their own problems over there, in the land of the Third Way. Interbank lending rates in Europe have spiked to their highest rate since the Euro was formed. One analyst called it a total breakdown of interbank lending. It’s like Warren Buffett said on CNBC the other day: The economy is like a bathtup: Can’t have warm water in the back and cold up front.
Survivor: theoretical physics (Information Processing)
Wall St. has long been a home to physicists that are more interested in dollars than reconciling quantum and astro physics. So with Wall St. jobs growing scarce, will we suddenly get some breakthroughs in the realm of the theoretical physics? It seems tough. Positions are still hella scarce — particularly the cushy tenure track ones at prestigious universities. A hedge fund still seems like a more promising career choice, after reading this.
Beavers ride Rodgers’ 186 yards to stunner over No. 1 Trojans (ESPN)
One word: Awesome. One other word: Hook ‘em.
General Electric revises 3Q, full-year outlook (AP)
It’s a good thing they’re on the no short list, cause GE has just lowered its quarterly and full year outlook. The predictable reason: gyrations in the financial market. The good news though, GE says it’s committed to maintaining its AAA credit rating — so presumably it won’t be reluctant to raise capital at the first signs of rain.
Buffett Drove Hard Bargain With Goldman (WSJ)
Oh gosh, the Buffett the mythology lives on: “For six months, as the credit crisis deepened, billionaire investor Warren Buffett turned away a string of Wall Street firms that came hat in hand looking for help. On Tuesday, Mr. Buffett says, he was sitting with his feet on his desk in Omaha, drinking a Cherry Coke and munching on mixed nuts, when he got an unusually candid call from a Goldman Sachs Group Inc. investment banker.” Really? Like, really? He was actually drinking Cherry Coke, his beloved soft drink, right when they called? It’s only surprising that he wasn’t eating See’s candies as well, but then that would’ve just been too ridiculous.
Initial Thoughts On MySpace Music (AVC)
Fred Wilson’s been advocating music sharing and social discvoery services for long than anyone, so he’s as good a person as any to give his impression of the new MySpace Music, which just launched last night — going head to head with Apple, and other big music sites. We saw a demo, it looks potentially interesting, but obviously we’ll need to sing our teeth in it some more, to know.
Marc Faber: 14% S&P 500 Rally Post-Paulson (Paul Kedrosky)
It sounds like Mr. Gloom, Boom, Doom, is predicting a short end to the gloomb, a decent-sized boom… but then a return to doom (that’s always how it is in th end). Should the Paulson plan go through (and it probably will… now that McCain is coming back to Washington, the Dems want to rush it through so it can’t look like he’s taking credit), he’s predicting a 14 percent S&P 500 rally. Not sure where he pulls that number out of, but doesn’t really matter? Doom lies just beyond that.
Short-Sale Ban Fails to Save Ambac, Farmer Mac From 50% Plunge (Bloomberg)
Yep, even with the no shorting rule, some financials have been getting absolutely crushed, Farmer Mac chief among them. It’s just the curse of the Macs really. Nothing can save ‘em. Ambac though, we were sure they were strong and can’t believe that the stock might actually be falling on fundamentals.
Asian Markets Are Jittery as US Bailout Doubts Persist (CNBC)
By jittery, the article must mean “not every single stock on the market soared”, cause for the most part, it seems the Warren Buffett injection actually brought some cheer to the other side of the earth. Financial shares were up, and generally the indexes ended in the green. In Europe it sounds like stocks are up marginally.
Pickens Funds Down About $1 Billion (WSJ)
Spending too much time filming commercials advocating wind? Apparently T. Boone Pickens hasn’t done so well at his fund, having lost $1 billion on the steep decline in energy. Personally, he’s lost $270 million, and he admits that this is his worst run in 10 years. Like many money losers, Pickens has an explanation for the decline in energy that makes him feel better: “I’m not willing to accept that [the downturn] was due to a global slowdown” reducing energy demand, he says. “When there’s deleveraging in markets it will affect everything.” We’ve all been there on that one.
Exec pay limits gain support as bailout questioned (AP)
We’ll see if this is just posturing, or if this is something the Dems are really able to stick with. The opposition is right, but you still have a hard time making the case politically that firms who might be dead but for the largesse of the American taxpayer, ought to be paying multi-million bonuses to top brass. In the end, it’s hard to see something like this going through. But it’s also hard to see a plan going through that doesn’t have a lot of strings. And it’s also hard to see a plan not going through at all. So there you go.
China Withdraws Milk as Fonterra Decries Sanlu Delay
There’s some joke in here about China scrambling to withdraw tainted milk and comparing it to money market redemptions. At the moment, we don’t know what that joke is, exactly. Too early.
Weakest holiday sales since ’02 seen (CNNMOney)
Well this is really predictable… The National Retail Federaton predicts weak holiday growth this year, just 2.2 percent. Hey at least it’s up. But apparently it usually grows by about 4.4 percent per year. Growth of 2.2 percent would represent the most anemic growth since 2002. And realistically, with these things, doesn’t the final number usually come in weaker than all the forecasts. At least gas prices might be down (well, before yesterday they might’ve been).
Bristol-Myers launches sweetened bid for ImClone (AP)
At least someone out there is getting paid. It’s not anyone you or we know, but rather some folks working for and investing biotech ImClone, which so far has successfully resisted a takeover attempt from Bristol-Myers. It’s paid off at this point, as the big drugmaker upped its offer from $60 to $62. That being said, ImClone claims it has an offer of $70 out on the table from some unspecified gentleman caller.
How close was the financial system to melting down? (Megan McArdle)
Remember last Thursday night? When Senators and Congressman got to meet with Bernanke, Paulson and Cox? Apparently their jaws just dropped, though it was never completely clear what was said at the meeting. Well it was probably something like this. Though we’re still skeptical that armaggedon was truly right around the corner, here’s an explanation of how it might have been.
Bailout Prevents Great Depression 2.0 (USNews)
While Megan’s post is excellent, this guy explaining how sans-the bailout, we’d have spend $30 trillion, sounds a little more off the rails.
Stocks in Europe, Asia Drop; Barclays, Macquarie, Vedanta Fall (Bloomberg)
Not a good night overseas while you were sleeping, though nothing to get too worked up about. Europe slipped a couple of percent (you can’t blame ‘em, since they were following our lead). Asia fell just .6 percent.
Democrats Set Bailout Conditions as Treasury Chief Rallies Support (NYT)
There’s like $1.5 trillion on the line with this new bailout plan — really, the mother of all spending schemes. This is lobbyist and special interest heaven, and you’d be negligent to not get try getting something of that for your pet cause. But it’s a game of sorts… the Democrats want to push their agenda as far as it can go, without being held responsible if the deal (and then the economy) collapses. We’re hopeful that the Dems push too far in their demands for stuff like “no more Wall St. bonuses for the next 10 years” etc. Not that that’s technically what they’re proposing, but still.
Nomura reportedly gets Lehman’s Asia business (MarketWatch)
Another snappy asset sale… this time Lehman’s Asia ops are going to Nomura for $225 million. Nothing official — all based on folks familiar with the matter.
What Would Hayek Say? (Organizations & Markets)
Hint: It has to do with the notion that injecting cash into the economy is not the way to solve a problem borne by too much easy money.
The housing meltdown: Why did it happen in the US? (EconBrowser)
A new paper takes a stab at the question. It arrives at one conclusion several have already pointed to: That a concerted effort to expand homeownership to people previously not served by the mortgage system (read: the poor, the less credit-worthy), as well as an effort to expand homeownership efforts outside of the GSE system, a direct response to the well-known accounting issues Fannie and Freddie had been facing.
Stocks Soar Worldwide on Bank Bailout, Curb on Short Sales (Bloomberg)
The great thing about the government is that as long as they can maintain law and order, they’ve never really fired the last barrel of the gun. Stocks rallied overseas on all the news: A stepped up attempt to clean up the mess and a new, hostile attitude towards short selling. The Europe Dow Jones Stoxx Index added 6.4 percent. And the Russian market rallied 16 percent. But probably not having anything to do with short sellers, rather Medveded promised to put up $20 billion (of his own money? no) to prop up stocks. Meanwhile, per CNBC in front of us, US futures are going buckwild on the news. but it’s just so weird to hear American business reporters, talking about the SEC, using “ban” and “short sale” in the same sentence.
Details on the SEC’s New No-Shorting Rule (Paul Kedrosky)
How hastily was the SEC new rule drawn up? Get this… among the 779 stocks that will, from now on, trade outside of a free market, one of them is “MBP”, Metabolic Pharmaceuticals. Paul surmises the SEC probably meant MPB Mid Penn Bancorp. But then again, who’d think to short Mid Penn Bancorp. In case you were wondering, Lehman is also on the list.
Rumor: Government to Buy Bad Mortgage Securities (EconLog)
A concise, biting explanation of the RTC from Arnold Kling.
Oil rises above $98 a barrel in Asia (AP)
That’s the one problem with this “rally”. Oil is up too, and though the headline here says $98, it looks like it may have recrossed into triple digits territory. Good thing summer driving season is long over.
Bill Moves Forward To Re-Legalize Online Poker (Techdirt)
Barney Frank isn’t necessarily the most popular guy in financial circles (though he is intelligent and informed), but we still like him. Why? Because he’s a big defender of gambling (online and physical). One of the best cases for online gambling we’ve ever heard was this lecture he gave at the free market CATO institute. Anyway, knowing this, we’re not surprised to see him introduce legislation that would legalize online gambling (with a few exceptions and some regulations, sadly). Also, it’s sad that it’ll probably go nowhere. Why would Bush sign this, but for the fact that he’s not a big veto fan?
Central Banks Take Coordinated Action (WSJ)
We understand how things work on this world — when there’s a big problem, the government solution is usually to flood more money into the system, overnight and fast. That’s not going away. In fact it seems to be accelerating, as the governments are holding each other hand in hand to stave off the mess. While you were sleeping, everyone was working together (US, Europe, Japan) to flood dollars into the market, lifting all boats in the process. It’s almost beatiful seeing this level of peace and coordination. And to think everyone is on a different timezone, it truly drives home the impressiveness of working together. Still, memo: When this is all over. Please remember to sop up all those extra dollars and incinerate them as much as possible.
Morgan Stanley’s talking to CIC, not Citic (FT Alphaville)
Citic, CIC. CIC, Citic. All the same difference, right? The point is they’re talking to China (maybe). No, there is a diffrence. Citic is a bank that has seen its own shares fall from some of this whole mess. CIC is an SWF that already owns 9.9 percent of Morgan, and whose CEO even came to the US on Tuesday for a visit (where were those plane watchers who called the Sarah Palin veep nod?). Anyway, blame CNBC for squeezing a couple extra letters in.
Bad Bets and Cash Crunch Pushed Ailing AIG to Brink (WSJ)
This is now becoming a staple of modern, financial journalism — The pointed, detailed look at the final precious moments before a firm either totally collapsed or partially collapsed. This one’s long, and it’s early, so we haven’t read the whole thing yet. But we can confirm, courtesy of word search, that there’s nothing about having ordered Chinese food in there (too bad). And here’s a little internal perspective on that moment, when we learned that NY had freed up $20 billion for AIG to lend to itself: “The New York state superintendent of insurance, Eric Dinallo, told the firm he could allow the parent company to get access to about $20 billion from its subsidiaries; state regulators have oversight over how insurers use assets set aside for potential claims. Mr. Willumstad rushed to tell the executives and bankers: “We found $20 billion!” He left thinking AIG now only needed another $20 billion to avoid disaster.”
HBOS agrees $22.2 bln bid (MarketWatch)
So that officially happened. HBOS, described as the WaMu of the UK, sold itself to Llyods TSB for $22.2 billion. That seems like a lot of the WaMu of anything, so it must not really be London’s WaMu. Apparently our WaMu is still trying to figure something out, itself. Maybe Lloyds would like two for the price of one and get a US footprint?
Asia stocks fall, pare losses as central banks act (AP)
That coordinated global action: Apparently it helped turned a really bad day in Asia into just a sort-of one. Japan was still down, but only by a couple percent. Get this: Hong Kong was down 7 percent at one point, and then ended up slightly positive. That’s a crazy, crazy day of trading for ya.
Stock futures slip after U.S. government’s AIG move (Marketwatch)
And this is the thanks the government gets. You hammer out a last minute deal to save the entire financial system, prevent it from melting down and guaranteeing our return to gold-based money and investors don’t even appreciate it. Instead they sell off a little more. AIG is down a bit too, though not that much (per muted CNBC), a testament to how well the market seems to have priced things out in the end. Also according to muted CNBC (just going on the ticker at the bottom): Charlie Gasparino says Morgan Stanley is not in merger talks, but that there have been some discussions about whether it would be necessary (in theory). Also we just saw that General Mills, the cereal company, beat earnings. Again, that’s straight from the tube to you.
Asian markets mixed after US bails out insurer AIG (AP)
Meanwhile, it’s the same kind of mixed reaction in Asia.
HBOS, Lloyds TSB in Merger Talks (WSJ)
Groping for flotillas isn’t limited to US financial concerns. Evidently UK mortgage giant HBOS and TSB and in pretty serious merger talks. The Journal (citing sources) says a deal could come within the hour. If it happens before we’re done writing this, we’ll try to make a note of it.
AIG CEO Willumstad to be replaced by ex-Allstate boss – WSJ (Marketwatch)
Getting the CEO nod weill evidently be ex-Allstate CEO Edward Liddy. Seeing as “The American Taxpayer” now owns 79.99999 percent of AIG, shouldn’t the job go to some regular Joe. Perhaps they could hold a contest. But really, the guy could stand up and say stuff like “I don’t know much about Wall Street, but I do know that I never spend more than I have in my account, and my only debt is my mortgage.” That’s just the kind of regular guy horse sense we need.
Russian Markets Halted as Emergency Funding Fails to Halt Rout (Bloomberg)
Kinda feel sorry for the Russians here… they’re taking all the world news even worse than we are. Cheer up guys. Two days in a row Russian markets have been halted, following a 17 percent, then a 10 percent decline in stocks. The collapse in the energy markets is making things even worse for them. This leads us to a new theory of renewed Russian geopolitical aggression — It’s all about oil, but not in the way you think: Mainly they just want to start trouble, because commodities tend to spike during trouble. They don’t care about what they own, or what’s in the borders. It’s just about inducing the kind of chaos that typically might lead to an oil price rise.