by Optrader - February 7th, 2010 11:43 pm
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by ilene - February 7th, 2010 11:37 pm
Amusing analogy, and while the finer details may be hard to appreciate, like the difference between dying from contaminated salmon mousse and an e-coli-laced burger, I believe Robert Waldmann’s argument is correct — food poisoning kills. And slicing, dicing and spreading contaminated beef through the hamburger supply, kills most efficiently. What we have here is not one bad can of salmon. - Ilene
Courtesy of Robert Waldmann at Angry Bear
Barry Ritholtz argues that the problem with mortgages was underwriting standards and not securitization. He appeals to the very great authority of Monty Python. Click the link.
Ritholtz seems not to be familiar with this new idea in economic theory called "Nash equilibrium". Over -rated yes. Totally irrelevant not so much. One can not assume that underwriting standards are exogenous. If there had been no MBS, no firm would have underwritten those mortgages. It was exactly because it was possible to blend them, and then sell them to people who didn’t spin the mortgage tapes before buying, that the mortgages existed in the first place.
Let me work with his analogy. First, while I have great respect for the Monty Python team, few people have been killed by canned Salmon. Even blended into mousse, it kills fairly quickly and can be tracked back to the canner. The way bacteria work is that if you mix some contaminated stuff with other stuff you have trouble for sure. It doesn’t work that things seem fine until people notice.
At a way lower cultural level than Ritholtz I appeal to road runner cartoons. Wile E. Coyote runs along in mid air until he notices. Then he falls. As noted by everyone, this is the way financial markets really work. The non Monty Python quality humor is based on the fact that gravity doesn’t really work that way. Neither do bacteria. Analogies between rotten mortgages and rotten Salmon fail for this reason.
Notably, the ingredients in the Salmon mousse are few enough that the dead diners immediately know what went wrong when death points at the mousse. That’s not the way MBS work let alone CDOs of MBSs or CDOS of tranches of CDOS.
by ilene - February 7th, 2010 11:30 pm
The Drinking Water Profiteers
Courtesy of JOSEPH NEVINS writing at CounterPunch
In mid-January, I received a mass email asking me to donate $10 for bottled water and other supplies for participants in an important immigrant rights march in Phoenix. Given the ever-repressive and cruel political climate in Arizona for immigrants (especially unauthorized ones), I was unequivocally in support of the mobilization. Nonetheless I was taken aback by a request to contribute even nominally to an effort to buy bottles of water for what turned out to be, according to some estimates, more than 20,000 people.
Certainly there are other ways—ecologically sustainable and less expensive ones—to provide water for such a multitude. How, why, and to what effects bottled water became the preferred way to do so for myriad people and places far beyond a single event in Phoenix is the focus of Elizabeth Royte’s powerful and compelling book, Bottlemania: Big Business, Local Springs and the Battle Over America’s Drinking Water.
I’ve never been a fan of bottled water, considering it ecologically damaging—in the United States alone 30-40 million single-serve bottles per day end up as litter or in landfills—and economically foolhardy, another capitalistic trick to con us into purchasing something from profiteers that we don’t shouldn’t have to. But as Royte powerfully illustrates, the increasing commodification of drinking water is far more complex, and dangerous, than at least I appreciated.
Until recently, the sale of single-serve bottles of water was rare. While the United States had regional bottled water companies as early as the nineteenth century, such entities mainly supplied homes and offices with large containers of the life-sustaining liquid (for water coolers, for instance). This situation began to change in the 1980s with the entry of Perrier into the U.S. market and its successful television advertising which stressed that a little luxury—a bottle of the French water—was available to everyone.
Other companies, like Evian and Vittel, followed, employing the likes of Madonna and fashion models, to help equate bottled water with personal health, fitness, and glamour. That, combined with the invention of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic—which made water easily portable—helped the U.S. bottled-water industry boom: between 1990 and 1997 its annual sales increased from $115 million to $4 billion. (By 2006, the figure was $10.8 billion; globally bottled water’s income was $60 billion.)
by ilene - February 7th, 2010 10:03 pm
Here’s PSW member Tuscadog’s detailed analysis of the company Amedisys (AMED). Tuscadog feels this is one of the few solid opportunities in the stock market, and he suggests a massive short squeeze may be coming due to AMED’s 53% short interest. – Ilene
Amedisys, Inc. provides home health and hospice services to the chronic, co-morbid, and aging American population. Its home health services include skilled nursing and home health aide services; physical, occupational, and speech therapy; and medically oriented social work to eligible individuals who require ongoing care. The company also offers clinically focused programs for chronic conditions and various diseases,… (Yahoo financial, more here.>>)
Why Amedisys (AMED) will hit $85
Courtesy of Tuscadog, member at PSW
Feb 23rd may be ‘Judgment Day’ for the AMED short interest.
This is a long posting based on a lot of research and high level interviews I’ve conducted. I’m a private (long term) investor in Amed and I don’t appreciate the way Amed has been ‘jerked around’ by the hedge funds with false rumors and shorting, hence my willingness to share my analysis with small investors. These are my opinions based on my own extensive research, so invest at your own risk. For background on Amed pay particular attention to the 7 articles by Daryl Davis in the ‘Financial Blogs’ section of the Yahoo Finance page for Amed.
UPDATED GUIDANCE WILL BE A NIGHTMARE FOR SHORTS:
Amed will likely release 2009 EPS on Feb 23rd of around $4.90 to $5 and, more importantly, it will give guidance for 2010 based on the status quo on Medicare billing rates for 2010 (i.e. as already issued for 2010 by The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, CMS). Based on the company’s growth rates and CMS’s announced approved rate increase for 2010 (which translates into a 1.8% net increase for 2010 after two flat pricing years) Amed will likely provide 2010 guidance in the $5.60 to $5.70 range. I believe actual results outcome will likely be higher, in the $5.70 to $5.90 range.
The 15 analysts who cover AMED are likely waiting for Amed’s guidance update and to see if there are any Health-Bill developments. The Suntrust upgrade Monday to a $70 target is using a pessimistic assumption of a revision to a retroactive 2.5% Medicare billing rate reduction for 2010. Currently, analysts eps forecasts for 2010 include varying degrees of…
by markettamer - February 7th, 2010 9:10 pm
Courtesy of Market Tamer
The Reverse Cup & Handle Chart Pattern
- The inverse of a Cup & Handle Chart Pattern.
-The stock bounces off of a support level and moves higher on unremarkable volume.
- A “Rounded Top” forms and then subsequently moves lower on increasing volume producing “The Cup”.
- The pattern is completed when a Bear Flag forms producing the handle.
- The breakdown occurs when the stock breaks the low of the handle on increasing volume.
by ilene - February 7th, 2010 5:09 pm
Courtesy of Karl Denninger at The Market Ticker
I’ve been writing about this now over a year in regard to the mess that became of AIG, their "financial products" unit, and what I believe is culpability not only of certain financial parties but more importantly our regulators of these firms.
Now The NY Times has published a new article that makes clear that my clarion call for major changes in these areas of the market were not only spot-on, but are even more necessary today than they were back then.
A.I.G. had long insured complex mortgage securities owned by Goldman and other firms against possible defaults. With the housing crisis deepening, A.I.G., once the world’s biggest insurer, had already paid Goldman $2 billion to cover losses the bank said it might suffer.
A.I.G. executives wanted some of its money back, insisting that Goldman — like a homeowner overestimating the damages in a storm to get a bigger insurance payment — had inflated the potential losses. Goldman countered that it was owed even more, while also resisting consulting with third parties to help estimate a value for the securities.
Read that carefully. The NY Times is making this sound like AIG had insured losses against securities Goldman was holding. That’s what insurance is, right?
Here’s the problem: Goldman didn’t own the securities.
In addition to offering to cancel its own contracts, Goldman offered to buy all of the insurance A.I.G. had written for several other banks at severely distressed prices, according to three people briefed on the discussions.
Negotiating with Goldman to void the A.I.G. insurance was especially difficult, Federal Reserve Board documents show, because the firm did not own the underlying bonds. As a result, Goldman had little incentive to compromise.
Now do you see the outrage in these so-called "protection devices"?
They aren’t. They were raw bets. Very highly-leveraged gambling instruments that had a very low cost at origination – a cost all out of proportion to their eventual potential return.
by ilene - February 7th, 2010 5:08 pm
Courtesy of Washington’s Blog
And everyone knows that the White House and Congress – while talking about cracking down on Wall Street with strict regulation – have actually watered down some of the most important protections that were in place.
For example, Senator Cantwell says that the new derivatives legislation is weaker than the old regulation. And leading credit default swap expert Satyajit Das says that the new credit default swap regulations not only won’t help stabilize the economy, they might actually help to destabilize it.
But the U.S. is not being sold out in a vacuum.
On March 1, 1999, countries accounting for more than 90 per cent of the global financial services market signed onto the World Trade Organization’s Financial Services Agreement (FSA). By signing the FSA, they committed to deregulate their financial markets.
Indeed, in signing the FSA and other WTO agreements, the U.S. has legally bound itself as follows:
• No new regulation: The United States agreed to a “standstill provision” that requires that we not create new regulations (or reverse liberalization) for the list of financial services bound to comply with WTO rules. Given that the United States has made broad WTO financial services commitments – and thus is forbidden by this provision from imposing new regulations in these many areas – this provision seriously limits the policy [options] available to address the current crisis.
• Removal of regulation: The United States even agreed to try to even eliminate domestic financial service regulatory policies that meet GATS [i.e. General Agreement on Trade in Services] rules, but that may still “adversely affect the ability of financial service suppliers of any other (WTO) Member to operate, compete, or enter” the market.
• No bans on new financial service “products”: The United States is also bound to ensure that foreign financial
by ilene - February 7th, 2010 4:57 pm
Courtesy of Tim Iacono at The Daily Bail
Even though this is a cartoon, it provides a pretty good explanation of what goes on in a pure fiat money system where trust is placed in the central bank and the government to not abuse the power that they and only they have to create money.
Spotted over at The Daily Bail where there seems to be an inexhaustible supply of interesting things to watch on YouTube.
by ilene - February 7th, 2010 4:54 pm
Get ready for a whole new batch of memorable Super Bowl commercials in a few hours – at least, that’s the hope. Here’s a compilation of the best from last year’s game.
The rhinoceros is quite funny, but, if you ask me, those baby ETRADE spots are just creepy.
by ilene - February 7th, 2010 3:09 pm
The following comes to us courtesy of Annaly Capital Management. If you haven’t read Mike Farrell’s recent comments I highly recommend taking a look. Farrell is an expert in the mortgage markets and really has his pulse on the health of the U.S. economy and real estate markets. His outlook is less than optimistic. The interview is a must see:
Mike Farrell will be appearing as a guest on Consuelo Mack’s “WealthTrack” this weekend. On the show, Mike discusses a number of macro themes, and several of the graphs maintained by our research group will be highlighted. Since graphs are rarely on screen long enough for thoughtful contemplation, we reproduce them here along with some context.
The first two graphs illustrate how different actors in our economy are behaving through the current environment. Households, businesses and financial institutions alike have begun the process of increasing their savings, refinancing their debt and de-levering their balance sheets. It’s a painful but necessary process. The progress made by the private sector, however, has been more than offset by the borrowing and spending of federal, state and local governments. The headline savings rate that we usually think about is the household one, but the same calculation can be applied to the government. On a national level, think of households, businesses, financial institutions and governmental entities all contributing their savings to one big piggy bank. The first graph below shows what each is contributing to our national piggy bank in the form of net savings. Gross savings is simply income less expenditures, and net savings is calculated by subtracting the consumption of fixed capital from gross savings. As the graph shows, net savings of the private sector has been generally rising and net federal government savings lately has been plummeting.
The graph below sums up the total of private and government net savings and presents it as a percentage of gross national income. It’s clear that government spending is draining the national piggy bank.
The third of our graphs that appears on this weekend’s WealthTrack is the one below, which demonstrates how the mortgage market-and thus the housing market-is on government