The news was widely trumpeted yesterday: Apple is now worth more than Microsoft. Market capitalization, or “market cap” as we like to say, is the total value of a company’s outstanding stock. As of yesterday’s close, Apple was worth $222 billion while Microsoft slipped to a measly $219 billion- still the third most valuable company in the S&P 500 (no the top spot isn’t Walmart, which is no. 4; the top spot belongs to Exxon). Read more »
So I’m in the bookstore last night and browsed the business section, as I often do. Picking up a book on options, my intent was to see if this was a good primer that I could recommend. Now, we won’t outright name this book, which claims to have sold quite a few copies, because I can appreciate how hard it is not to overlook something dumb you’ve written. Of course, I don’t have editors while bona-fide paid authors do. Nonetheless, our brilliant book had this to say only a few pages into chapter 1 (emphasis mine): Read more »
Just two days ago, the NAHB Housing Market Index was released for May. You might have heard the “good” news that home builders were reportedly more confident in future sales for the coming months. Headlines announced “Homebuilder Confidence hits new high” and other such claims. The truth is a little darker than the positive sounding headlines though. Read more »
Former President Bill Clinton, not Hillary, that is. I mention this only because it was unexpected. First, I didn’t expect to see Bill in the press commenting about Goldman; second because I would have guessed he’d spin it somehow on account of his links to the Administration’s tough stance. Rather, here is what Bill had to say in a CNBC interview:
“base on what I read in the press about the–of Goldman and the CEO, it didn’t seem to me that that was illegal, what they did.”
“If we don’t think it’s advisable for people to be gambling one step removed on derivatives because it adds to the instability inthe marketplace, then there are plenty of ways to deal with that without claiming that it’s illegal.”
“…what we ought to do is have an honest conversation about what really happened, how to fix it, and how to get what’s best about vital capital markets…I think to lower lower the rhetoric and talk about the facts, that’s how we ought to deal with this.”
Well, that was more or less my sentiment about SEC vs. Goldman. Even Slick Willie haters have to admit he can be pretty darn pragmatic sometimes. Regardless, unless a scandal is involved, I doubt anyone will pay attention to Bill’s advice.
We are interested in moving from WordPress to Blogspot. Unfortunately, we don’t know of a good way to port TLRB over. To be more accurate, I don’t technically know how to do it; nor do I have the time to figure it out. So, if you have a few hours and some technical skills and would like to give us a hand, please email us and let us know. We’d be very grateful for the help. Thanks!
Whew, some ride! What started as a “normal” skittish day in the markets nearly turned into outright disaster. In case you didn’t see it, around 2:25 PM, the market began to inexplicably plummet. Within minutes, the market was down over 8%- a veritable crash. It was truly stunning was just how fast things turned. Usually there is a little warning- a sense of impending action, bad news on the tape or other confluence of events that ease everyone over the falls. Not so today. Rather it came like a bolt out of the blue. Naturally everyone immediately sought reasons- a hung British election, spreading of the Greek debt crisis including riots at roughly the same time, possible liquidation of a hedge fund or program trading. Early indications seem to point, in part at least, to a system malfunction or rogue trade. P&G traded from $62 to $39 while Accenture traded down from $42 to $0.10! That just doesn’t happen in functioning markets and clearly some glitch plagued the market today.
Yet “bad prints”, which is trader terminology for a mistake, happen often and don’t unglue the system. One view might be that the market was exceptionally skittish going into today. Many metrics indicated that the market had overly bullish sentiment, “overbought” conditions, expensive valuations and had largely ignored recent negative economic developments in Europe. Complacency on account of “the recovery” is rampant.
One example of how investors seem to be throwing caution to the wind lately is how they have reacted to, or failed to react to, Greek woes. The situation in Europe has been known for months yet the markets have been complacent. Did investors just wake up for the first time today and notice how pathetically the EU is dealing with the situation? That is very plausible and if true, then caution had certainly been thrown to the wind and we could be in for a sizable correction. Just as a relatively small amount of subprime loans crippled the entire banking system, Greek debt along with Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Italy could also cripple the system.
Then again, this may have been a very random event; a mere matter of coincidence which we’ll all soon forget. At this junction, it is impossible to tell yet. While it may be comforting to hear pundits (yes you, CNBC!) definitively claim this or that, the reality is that we don’t know how this will play out.
We’ve witnessed nearly everyone bash the US Dollar over the past few years. As I’ve often commented, the dollar is indeed a weak currency- except for all the rest. The Euro is not a currency; rather it is a currency experiment and we’re in the lab right now. The ECB has been quiet and largely powerless, Germany and France have made promises
only to reneg, while the Greeks seem to want their cake and to eat it too. Spain, Portugal, Ireland and even Italy face huge issues. As painful financially and politically as TARP was- at least we dealt with the issues in about a month and on short notice. The EU hasn’t done anything to address Greece after months and months of fair warning. Yet some continue to insist the Euro should be the stronger currency? I think not.
Watching CNBC today, I heard discussion on the possible rogue trading include comments such as “where are the regulators?” and “where are the checks to make sure these things don’t happen”? I must laugh at the hypocrisy- CNBC is a bastion of pro free-market, anti-regulation rhetoric. God forbid someone want to regulate market processes- how dare they! Let the private sector decide if program trading, high frequency trading, co-location and hedge fund algorithim flows are okay. As soon as something goes wrong however, out come the calls for adult supervision! Those pundits really ought to think about their positions a little more than superficially. Alas, they’re just talking heads I suppose. Too bad people take them seriously.
I’ve wanted to address high frequency trading since it surfaced as a potential abuse last summer, but didn’t get to it. Perhaps now it is time. Coming soon…
Everyone “knows” Goldman Sachs is the root of all evil and that this SEC complaint is just more proof of that fact. While I’m not going to defend the morality or ethics of GS in any way, shape or form, I will say this is a pretty weak complaint on the surface. In fact, I think it might have ulterior motive.
The complaint is relatively short at 22 double-spaced pages. (Why do government documents always look like they were typed in 1952? Haven’t they heard of Microsoft Word?) You can read it for yourself here. Anyway, the crux of the issue is a “synthetic CDO” called ABACUS 2007-AC1. Read more »
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