Friday, April 9, 2010

US Futures Point Lower

U.S. futures are pointing to a lower open after warnings yesterday, from Ben Bernanke that the economy is “not out of the woods” and Kansas City Fed President Thomas Hoenig about the dangers of low interest rates, spooked investors and spilled over into the morning’s trading. Traders also worried about the health of the Greek economy and its debt problems.

· In the U.S., initial jobless claims came in at 460,000, higher than consensus expectations of 435,000 and up from last week’s upwardly revised 442,000. Continuing claims came in lower than expected with a reading of 4,550K

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Banks- Easy Profits

Today the quest for yield, any kind of "safe" yield, goes on and on. The Fed has taken short rates down to zero. This allows the banks to borrow at extremely low rates and then to buy Treasury bonds at yields near to 4% . This allows the banks to accumulate fat, almost risk free, income. Thus the Fed has taken care of its own. The big banks are flush with cash again. And all the while Americans are gasping for income like fish out of water. Leading bankers are making more money than ever, while the poor slob on the street is lying awake at night wondering how he's going to make the overdue payment on his home. Of course, his home is "underwater," since his home is worth less than his mortgage.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

U.S. bank failure tally hits 99 for 2009

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - One more U.S. bank was shuttered on Friday, as the tally of failures so far this year inched closer to 100.

The pace of bank failures has picked up sharply this year as the industry continues to work through bad loans that were made during the credit boom.

On Friday regulators closed San Joaquin Bank of Bakersfield, California. It was the 99th U.S. bank failure of 2009.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp, which was named receiver, said San Joaquin had $775 million in assets and $631 million in deposits.

Citizens Business Bank of Ontario, Calif., agreed to assume all deposits of San Joaquin, whose five branches will reopen on Monday as branches of Citizens Business Bank.

The failure is expected to cost the FDIC's insurance fund a total of $103 million.

U.S. bank failures have not reached the 100 mark since 1992 during the savings and loan crisis when 181 institutions were closed. In 1989, during the height of the savings and loan crisis, 534 banks failed.

Bank failures have drained the fund's balance, which turned negative at the end of the third quarter.

The FDIC, which insures accounts up to $250,000, has proposed a plan to boost its liquidity by having banks prepay three years of regular assessments.

The agency is expecting bank failures to cost the insurance fund about $100 billion from 2009-2013, and said failures will remain elevated this year and next.

The pace of bank failures is expected to remain rapid as banks' woes migrate from deteriorating subprime loans to commercial real estate loans.

The size of the failures, however, has dramatically decreased from last year, when panic in the financial markets caused many firms to topple or receive government bailouts.

"These are like aftershocks compared to the earthquakes we experienced in 2008," said Andrew Kuritzkes, a partner at consulting firm Oliver Wyman.

The largest bank failure of the current crisis was Washington Mutual, which was closed in September 2008, and had assets of $307 billion.

Other large banks, such as Wachovia, were sold when they ran into severe distress, and other financial firms received massive taxpayer bailouts, such as American International Group, which received government commitments of up to $182.5 billion.


Bank regulators sounded the alarm this week about the commercial real estate (CRE) sector, telling a Senate banking subcommittee that it represents the "greatest challenge" facing banks.

Officials are close to finalizing guidance that would encourage banks to recognize potential losses in their commercial real estate portfolios and not simply renew troubled loans to delay loss recognition.

"Prices for both existing commercial properties and for land... have declined sharply in the first half of this year, suggesting that banks are vulnerable to significant further deterioration in their CRE loans," U.S. Federal Reserve Board Governor Daniel Tarullo told the Senate panel on Wednesday.

As of June, commercial real estate loans totaled more than $1 trillion, or 14.2 percent of all loans and leases in the banking industry, FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair said at the same hearing.

She said that area will increasingly be a driver for bank failures during the remainder of this year and 2010.

Petrasic said it is largely community banks, not national banks, that have significant commercial real estate exposures that will continue to spiral downward in value.

"It will absolutely be the most critical factor going forward," he said.

(Reporting by Karey Wutkowski and Ayesha Rascoe)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

FDIC In the RED - 98 Failures this year

Three bank failures on Friday brought the total number of FDIC-insured institutions that have failed this year to 98. The estimated cost to the FDIC’s insurance fund for Friday’s failures was $293.3 million.

On Tuesday, FDIC Chairwoman Sheila Bair acknowledged that the agency’s deposit fund would likely fall into the red within the week. Bair proposed a plan [2] to shore up the fund. Under the plan, banks would prepay their annual assessments owed to the FDIC. Payments that would normally stretch through 2012 would all be handed over this year. The plan would raise $45 billion. To avoid a hit on their earnings from the payments, banks would be allowed to record the prepayment as if they paid on the usual yearly schedule.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

US Job LOSSES GREATER than expected

More US jobs lost than expected
The economy has shed 7.6 million jobs since the recession began

The US economy lost 263,000 jobs in September, which was more than had been expected, according to official non-farm payrolls figures.

The jobless rate rose to a fresh 26-year high of 9.8% from August's figure of 9.7%.

The number in employment has now fallen for 21 consecutive months.

There was more bad news from the Labor Department, which revised its figures for July and August to show 13,000 more jobs lost than previously reported.

The economy as a whole is expected to have grown in the past three months, but recovery in the jobs market tends to lag behind the rest of the economy.

'Pattern of weakness'

Since the start of the recession in December 2007, the number of people out of work has risen by 7.6 million to 15.1 million.

Expectations for recovery may have gotten a little ahead of the reality
Gary Thayer at Wells Fargo Advisors in Missouri

US unemployed despair as benefits run out

"Together with the ISM data, delinquencies data and even the consumer confidence data we had, we're starting to see a pattern of weakness emerge," said Kevin Caron, market strategist at Stifel, Nicolaus & Co in New Jersey.

"We saw a lot of artificial involvement by the government to prop up the markets, and now that that is starting to end the private sector isn't yet showing signs of life."

Government employment, which has been one of the factors boosting the economy in the past year, fell by 53,000 in September.

The other big areas of job losses were construction, manufacturing and retail.

Confidence needed

"It shows expectations for recovery may have gotten a little ahead of the reality," said Gary Thayer at Wells Fargo Advisors in Missouri.

"The trend is still improved from earlier this year, but employers need to feel more confident about the economy before they start hiring again."

The US is not alone in seeing rising unemployment, with the 16 nations that use the euro announcing on Thursday that its seasonally adjusted rate rose to 9.6% in August, putting the number of people without a job at 15.2 million.

Earlier on Friday, Japan unexpectedly announced that its jobless rate had fallen to 5.5% in August from July's record high of 5.7%, but the number of people unemployed still hit a six-year high of 3.61 million.

Banks step in as US Dollar tumbles

Banks step in as dollar tumbles
The dollar fell to a 14-month low against a basket of currencies

Asian central banks have intervened in the currency markets in an attempt to slow the slide of the US dollar.

Asian countries are worried about their export industries, which would be hurt by a weaker dollar.

Central banks in South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines and Thailand have been buying the US currency, traders said.

As signs of economic recovery begin to emerge, traders have switched from the traditionally "safe" US dollar to buying other currencies.

A fresh wave of dollar-selling may have led to the banks' intervention.

The dollar fell to a 14-month low against a basket of currencies on Thursday.

Analysts believe that other countries have also intervened.

"It was reported earlier this morning that Russia was one of at least six central banks buying dollars," said Michael Woolfolk, senior currency strategist at the Bank of New York Mellon.

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