Loans

Back in 2009, hedge fund manager Phil Falcone came up with an idea considered genius only if you take an elastic view of securities laws, which Falcone certainly did (does?). Upon being notified by his personal accountants that he owed the government more than $100 million in state and federal taxes, and turning down the suggestion to borrow against various assets including his Manhattan townhouses, artwork, interest in the Minnesota Wild, and an estate on St. Bart’s, Falcone decided to just borrow the money from a gated investor fund, despite being told in no uncertain terms it was a bad idea by Harbinger’s “longstanding” outside counsel. Investors in that fund turned out not to like the idea very much, with the SEC feeling similarly. But while the regulator felt 5 years (plus an $18 million fine) was enough time for Falcone to really think about what he’d done– a punishment Falcone described as a blessing in disguise–, the New York Department of Financial Services felt otherwise. Read more »

  • 11 Jul 2013 at 3:05 PM

Deutsche Bank Did Some Accounting Stuff

I used to work in a business that, among other things, helped clients get financing against securities. One thing that you learn quickly in that business, and then spend the rest of your career trying to forget, is that the simplest way to get financing against securities is to sell them. You’ve got $100 of stock and want to borrow $80 of cash against it? Just sell the stock, now you have $100, you’re welcome.1

This is not a perfect solution, of course, because you presumably owned the stock for a reason, and that reason was presumably that you thought it would go up.2 And if you sell it you lose the chance to participate in that upside. So one thing you could do is (1) sell your stock for $100 today and (2) enter into some sort of transaction that gives you some or all of the upside in the stock over some period of time. Like, you could buy a call option struck at $100, giving you all the upside and none of the downside, though at the cost of having to pay premium for the call option. Or you could enter into a total return swap struck at $100, giving you all of the upside and all of the downside at a zero-ish cost. Or you could enter into a forward contract to buy back the stock, which is the same as the swap, more or less. That last one – sell stock today, enter into a forward to buy it back in the future – is so common that it has a name, and the name is “repo.” Read more »

  • 20 Jun 2013 at 6:26 PM

IMF Will Continue To Throw Greece A Bone

The International Monetary Fund said Thursday that it would continue to finance Greece as long as it is able to complete a review of the cash-strapped country’s finances by the end of July as expected. The statement by the Washington-based multilateral lender came in response to reports that several European central banks were refusing to roll-over loans to Greece, something that could create a shortfall in Greece’s financing. A media report said the IMF had warned European countries that it would cease lending to Greece as early as July if the funding gap wasn’t filled. [WSJ]

Remember, back in 2009, when Phil Falcone realized he’d forgotten to set aside enough cash to cover his taxes and came up with the idea to loan himself the money from a gated investor fund? And investors got all bent out of shape about it and the SEC did too? If the former was looking for some sort of an apology and the latter was looking for some show of groveling (in an attempt to avoid paying a fine/having a judge rule he can’t come within 200 feet of a public company), sorry, ’cause Phil’s not sorry. Read more »

  • 20 Feb 2013 at 4:37 PM
  • Banks

Banks Doing Too Much, Too Little Lending

One lazy but fun thing to do as a financial blogger is to find two publications saying the opposite thing on the same day, and then be all “haha, dopes.” Business Loans Flood the Market, the Journal informed us this morning, while Bloomberg tells us that by another measure loans are at a five-year low, though being Bloomberg the way they put it is JPMorgan Leads U.S. Banks Lending Least of Deposits in 5 Years. So is there a flood of loans, or a least of loans? Which is it, guys?

Well, both, obviously; “haha, dopes” would not be fair here. Loans are up, relative to the last couple of years, but loans as a percentage of deposits are at a low – 84% for the top 8 commercial banks, per Bloomberg, as opposed to 101% in 2007. Bloomberg acknowledges this tension:

Falling ratios don’t mean banks have shut the lending spigots. Measured in dollars, total loans rose in the fourth quarter for the biggest eight lenders to $3.9 trillion.

As does the Journal, which notes that “The push comes at a time when many banks have been flooded with deposits as slow economic growth and low interest rates crimp investment.”

The way I think about banks is that they do two somewhat separate things, which are:

  • satisfy some people’s demand for money claims (short-term, safe, exchangeable-for-fixed-amount-of-cash bank liabilities),1 and
  • satisfy other people’s demand for loans.

It’s not entirely obvious why those things would move in lockstep: Read more »

Remember Andrew Oberwager and Karolina Stefansi? For those who need a refresher: they’re two highly educated kids who were once in love and are now suing each other in court. When they met, Oberwager was a PM at Columbus Circle Partners, who had earned the right to not only put the letters C, F, and A after his signature, but M and D as well, having graduated from Harvard Med school before getting into investing. Stefanski, left, was a former Playboy model from Germany, who had earned her journalism degree from Suffolk University (the $33,000 tuition for which Obes covered). Thing were good.

Then MDCFA might have started an affair with a chick from Texas he met online, a relationship Stefanski was not cool with even though it probably meant nothing to Oberwags (i.e. he didn’t put her through vet school), she moved back to Germany and cashed the blank, signed checks he had given her, including one for $80,000.

Apparently this set Andy off and in July, he sued Karolina, a) claiming those checks were “meant to pay for household expenses” and b) demanding the tuition funds be paid back, plus interest, arguing that the couple had “drawn up a contract on his personal computer” (which has since gone missing) because “she said she didn’t want charity…it was actually her idea to make it a loan.”

Anyway, Karolina has now come back to 1) let Andrew know he can go fuck himself and 2) tell the court that this man is a liar. Read more »

Until 2007, investment manager Andrew Oberwager and his girlfriend Karolina Stefansi were a happy, highly educated couple in love. Oberwager was a PM at Columbus Circle Partners, who had earned the right to not only put the letters C, F, and A after his signature, but M and D as well, having graduated from Harvard Med school before getting into investing. Stefanski, left, was a former Playboy model from Germany, who had earned her journalism degree from Suffolk University (the $33,000 tuition for which Obes covered). Thing were good. Then MDCFA maybe supposedly started an affair with a chick from Texas he met online, a relationship Stefanski was not cool with even though it probably meant nothing to Oberwags (i.e. he didn’t put her through vet school) and she took it to mean that upon breaking up, she was entitled to write herself a check from his account for $80,000.

Stefanski…contends the blank check was for her personal use. She wrote it out for $80,000 when she decided to return to Germany….Attorney Kurosh Marjani is arguing, however, that Stefanski had no authority to write out a blank check for $80,000. The blank check was meant to pay for household expenses, Oberwager testified Tuesday

Also? He wants the $33,00 back, too. Plus interest. Read more »