Friday, March 14, 2008

Ben Franklin Report: a Perfect Storm

As always, the world keeps spinning, and people will keep being people. So, by way of briefing, here are a few developments, like how a Recession is inevitable. Bush is optimistic.

Ben Franklins are increasingly worthless, compared to most foreign exchanges. The Dollar has gone below 100 yen for the first time in more than a decade, and keeps hitting new highs against our poor greenback. Inflation, though, reportedly didn't go up by very much in February, perhaps signifying a leveling out of prices, in the wake of consumer prices not properly reported in the Consumer Price Index. Any hope that inflation will be ameliorated by flattening or perhaps falling consumer demand is probably, at best, naive with oil on its march up to $125 a barrel. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac may have been thrown a lifeline by Fed chief Ben Bernanke, but should he have? Is it enough? $200 Billion is a lot of money to be financed by Treasuries, yet not very much compared to the size of the mortgage market. Speaking of which, is going into dire straits as the crisis is beginning to move into the more traditional branch of mortgages, those whom enjoy good credit histories. In truth, the Fed has now set a course to assume all risk to the global financial system from the mortgage crisis.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has announced new financial guidelines that are already market practice, which mostly center around risk assessment and the documentation required to receive a mortgage. Any notion of adjusting accounting requirements to allow banks to free up capital on their balance sheets, however, seems extremely misguided.

Fanning the entropy further, a pair of large financial institutions have collapsed in the wake of the problems in the financial sector. Bear Sterns, just after appointing a new head of East Asian operations, found its liquidity destroyed almost overnight. Thankfully for them, JP Morgan is riding in to the rescue. The Carlyle Group may come to the rescue of its stepchild, not-really subsidiary Carlyle Capital Corporation, as its assets have been seized. In a branding effort, David Rubenstein, Carlyle co-founder, wants to make sure that investors break even. This effort, like almost all of the efforts of the Fed and Treasury, are aimed at helping large banks and financial institutions recover their capital outlays lost as a result of inordinate risk assumption.

Must Watch Video: Tent Cities in LA.

A Testimonial that generically represents the leading edge of the crisis.

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