Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Hedge Fund landscape changes, risk controls, managed accounts spike up


Fears of record hedge fund withdrawals

By James Mackintosh in London

Published: March 23 2009 23:32 | Last updated: March 23 2009 23:32

Hedge fund investors believe the industry will see even bigger withdrawals this year than last, when record levels of cash were pulled from the sector.

A survey of investors by Deutsche Bank found a third expect more than $200bn to be withdrawn, after a net $155bn was taken out last year, according to calculations by Chicago consultancy Hedge Fund Research.

Only a quarter of investors expect net inflows into the industry, and 82 per cent of the 1,000 surveyed said redemptions were the biggest issue hedge fund managers face.

Deutsche found that most investors expected more than a fifth of hedge funds to go out of business this year, following a record year for closures last year, when performance was its worst on record.

However, Sean Capstick, head of capital introductions at Deutsche's prime brokerage, said the big managers were likely to survive as they could afford the expensive systems and controls investors increasingly demand.

"The industry is really moving away from being a cottage industry to being an institutional industry," he said.

The survey, which covered investors with $1,100bn invested in alternative assets, found they were increasingly demanding better transparency and rating risk management as more important than a manager's pedigree for the first time.

"People want to know where their money is and what it is invested in," Mr Capstick said.

As part of this trend managed accounts, where investors have their own account run by a manager, rather than putting money into a fund, are expected to grow sharply. Several big managers who have historically rejected managed accounts have recently begun accepting them.

Trading in second-hand hedge funds is also expected to grow sharply, as blocks on withdrawals by many funds force investors in need of cash to sell to others at a discount.

There were few bright spots in the survey, but an expected reduction in the cash held from $294bn to $212bn raised the prospect of some new investment in funds.

Those specialising in global macro (investing in interest rates, markets and currencies), distressed companies, long/short credit trading and convertible bond arbitrage were listed as most popular with investors. But more than 40 per cent of those surveyed planned to reduce their exposure to merger arbitrage and event-driven funds.

Monday, March 23, 2009

China calls for new reserve currency

China's central bank on Monday proposed replacing the US dollar as the international reserve currency with a new global system controlled by the International Monetary Fund.

In an essay posted on the People's Bank of China's website, Zhou Xiaochuan, the central bank's governor, said the goal would be to create a reserve currency "that is disconnected from individual nations and is able to remain stable in the long run, thus removing the inherent deficiencies caused by using credit-based national currencies".


99% of S&P stocks positive on $1 Trillion USD plan

Global Stocks Advance, S&P 500 Rallies Most in Five Months

The market (or at least that part of the market that obsesses over balance of payment flows) has been swept with rumors today that foreign exchange reserves were down in January by $30 billion. My experience with these sorts of rumors is that they tend to be fairly accurate, and I suspect they will soon be confirmed.

If true, what does this imply about hot money flows? The PBoC's accounts have been more opaque than ever and it is extremely difficult to figure out what is really happening, but let me give try at least to bracket the range of outcomes.


http://flowingdata.com/2009/03/13/27-visualizations-and-infographics-to-understand-the-financial-crisis/ Crisis in visualization

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Zimbabwe ditches USD for RAND

Zimbabwe chooses rand as reference currency

Zimbabwe has unveiled an ambitious US$5-billion short-term economic recovery plan, which President Robert Mugabe was expected to announce on Thursday, laying out for the first time the coalition's plan to reverse years of economic turmoil under his rule.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Fed to Buy $300 Billion of Longer-Term Treasuries

Fed to Buy $300 Billion of Longer-Term Treasuries (Update2)

By Craig Torres

March 18 (Bloomberg) -- The Federal Reserve plans to buy $300 billion in Treasury securities and acquire more mortgage and agency debt in an effort to bolster housing and hasten the end of the recession.

"To provide greater support to mortgage lending and housing markets, the Committee decided today to increase the size of the Federal Reserve's balance sheet further by purchasing up to an additional $750 billion of agency mortgage- backed securities," the Federal Open Market Committee said after a unanimous vote in Washington today. "Moreover, to help improve conditions in private credit markets, the committee decided to purchase up to $300 billion of longer-term Treasury securities over the next six months."

Chairman Ben S. Bernanke is opening a new front in monetary policy after unemployment climbed to 8.1 percent and economists forecast the economy will shrink through the middle of the year. Fed officials also kept the benchmark interest rate at between zero and 0.25 percent and said it will consider expanding the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility to include "other financial assets," the statement said.

"We are not even close to the bottom and therefore the Fed is engaging in a massive quantitative easing," William Poole, former president of the St. Louis Fed, said in an interview today with Bloomberg News. "We still have a very serious recession in front of us," said Poole, now a senior economic adviser to Merk Investments LLC in Palo Alto, California, and contributor to Bloomberg News.

Historic Rally

Treasuries surged, sending benchmark 10-year note yields down to 2.50 percent from 3.01 percent late yesterday, the biggest decline since 1962. The Standard & Poor's 500 Stock Index jumped 2.9 percent to 800.66 at 2:54 p.m. in New York.

Bernanke is trying to prevent the credit contraction from deepening what already may be the worst recession in 60 years. The U.S. jobless rate jumped to the highest level in more than a quarter century last month. Industrial production fell 1.4 percent, the fourth consecutive decline, while factory capacity in use slumped to 70.9 percent, matching the lowest level on record.

"Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in January indicates that the economy continues to contract," the FOMC said in the statement. "The committee anticipates that policy actions to stabilize financial markets and institutions, together with fiscal and monetary stimulus, will contribute to a gradual resumption of sustainable economic growth."

Global Contraction

The global economy will contract this year for the first time since World War II, the World Bank predicts, forcing central banks to keep pumping money into their economies when conventional interest rates are at, or close to, zero. The Bank of England is buying government bonds and corporate debt, the Bank of Japan is snapping up government notes and making subordinated loans to banks, and the Swiss National Bank is intervening to weaken the franc.

The Fed has cut the benchmark rate from 5.25 percent, beginning in September 2007, as credit froze and the economy buckled. Policy makers are now focused on how to further channel money to the economy. The Fed has already committed to buying $600 billion of mortgage-backed securities and bonds sold by government-sponsored housing agencies.

Home-Loan Rates

The Fed's actions pushed the average rate on a U.S. 30-year fixed rate mortgage to 5.03 percent on March 12, down from 5.15 percent the previous week. Still, rates are high relative to benchmark Treasury issues: Prior to today's meeting, the difference between rates on 30-year fixed mortgages and 10-year Treasuries is 2.1 percentage points, Bloomberg data show. That's up from an average of 1.75 percentage points in the decade before the subprime mortgage market collapsed.

Through emergency loans and liquidity backstops, U.S. central bankers have expanded Fed credit to the economy by an unprecedented $1 trillion over the past year. At the same time, forecasters at Macroeconomic Advisers LLC in St. Louis predict a 5.2 percent decline in first-quarter gross domestic product, following a 6.2 percent drop in the fourth quarter.

'Choked Off'

"It is the worst credit crunch since the Great Depression," Laurence Meyer, a former Fed governor and vice chairman of Macroeconomic Advisers, said before the decision. "The banking system is reeling, credit is being choked off, it is dramatic in size."

Banks worldwide have posted $1.2 trillion in write downs and credit losses on mortgage loans and other assets. U.S. Treasury officials will put the largest 19 banks through "stress tests" and decide whether they need more capital. The banks can raise equity privately or seek more government funds. Officials are also looking at ways to remove bad assets.

Bernanke, 55, told CBS Corp.'s "60 Minutes" on March 15 that he sees "green shoots" in some financial markets, and that the pace of economic decline "will begin to moderate."

The Standard and Poor's 500 index is up 11.5 percent this month. Chief executive officers from Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Citigroup Inc. said their banks made money in the first two months of the year.

Coca-Cola Co., health insurer WellPoint Inc. and more than 30 other companies are tapping longer-term credit markets and paying down their short-term IOUs, a sign of some investor confidence.

Retail Sales

Sales at U.S. retailers in February fell less than forecast and a gain in January exceeded the previous estimate, indicating the biggest part of the economy may be starting to stabilize.

Housing starts in the U.S. unexpectedly snapped the longest streak of declines in 18 years in February, adding to the series of data that suggest the pace of the economy's decline may be easing.

Consumer prices rose 0.4 percent in February from a month earlier, the Commerce Department reported today. The annual core inflation rate increased to 1.8 percent, within the range most Fed officials say is their objective, easing concern about a deflationary spiral.

"There are always going to be some signs of revival; this is a resilient country," said Julian Mann, who helps manage $4 billion in bonds at First Pacific Advisors LLC in Los Angeles. "But consumers are fearful, and when they are fearful they aren't going to spend."

To contact the reporter on this story: Craig Torres in Washington at ctorres3@bloomberg.net.

Last Updated: March 18, 2009 14:59 EDT

NO CHANGE by fed

U.S. Federal Open Market Committee March 18 Statement: Text

March 18 (Bloomberg) -- The following is a reformatted version of the full text of the statement released today by the Federal Reserve in Washington:

Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in January indicates that the economy continues to contract. Job losses, declining equity and housing wealth, and tight credit conditions have weighed on consumer sentiment and spending. Weaker sales prospects and difficulties in obtaining credit have led businesses to cut back on inventories and fixed investment. U.S. exports have slumped as a number of major trading partners have also fallen into recession. Although the near term economic outlook is weak, the Committee anticipates that policy actions to stabilize financial markets and institutions, together with fiscal and monetary stimulus, will contribute to a gradual resumption of sustainable economic growth.

In light of increasing economic slack here and abroad, the Committee expects that inflation will remain subdued. Moreover, the Committee sees some risk that inflation could persist for a time below rates that best foster economic growth and price stability in the longer term.

In these circumstances, the Federal Reserve will employ all available tools to promote economic recovery and to preserve price stability. The Committee will maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and anticipates that economic conditions are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels of the federal funds rate for an extended period. To provide greater support to mortgage lending and housing markets, the Committee decided today to increase the size of the Federal Reserve's balance sheet further by purchasing up to an additional $750 billion of agency mortgage-backed securities, bringing its total purchases of these securities to up to $1.25 trillion this year, and to increase its purchases of agency debt this year by up to $100 billion to a total of up to $200 billion. Moreover, to help improve conditions in private credit markets the Committee decided to purchase up to $300 billion of longer-term Treasury securities over the next six months. The Federal Reserve has launched the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility to facilitate the extension of credit to households and small businesses and anticipates that the range of eligible collateral for this facility is likely to be expanded to include other financial assets. The Committee will continue to carefully monitor the size and composition of the Federal Reserve's balance sheet in light of evolving financial and economic developments.

Voting for the FOMC monetary policy action were: Ben S. Bernanke, Chairman; William C. Dudley; Elizabeth A. Duke; Charles L. Evans; Donald L. Kohn; Jeffrey M. Lacker; Dennis P. Lockhart; Daniel K. Tarullo; Kevin M. Warsh; and Janet L. Yellen.

Last Updated: March 18, 2009 14:17 EDT

Russians pitch new global currency

At G20, Kremlin to Pitch New Currency http://www.themoscowtimes.com/article/600/42/375364.htm


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Americans sharpen their pitchforks

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/16/AR2009031602961_pf.html A tidal wave of public outrage over bonus payments swamped American International Group yesterday. Hired guards stood watch outside the suburban Connecticut offices of AIG Financial Products, the division whose exotic derivatives brought the insurance giant to the brink of collapse last year. Inside, death threats and angry letters flooded e-mail inboxes. Irate callers lit up the phone lines. Senior managers submitted their resignations. Some employees didn't show up at all.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Swiss declare war on currencies

Swiss action sparks talk of 'currency war'

The Swiss National Bank moved to weaken the Swiss franc on Thursday, the first time a big central bank has intervened in the foreign exchange markets since Japan sought to weaken the yen in 2004.

SNB did not like CHF trend, so they are trying to change it

FX NOW! USD/CHF, EUR/CHF Flows- SNB did not like CHF trend, so they are trying to change it

Mar 09: 18:35(LDN) - FX NOW! USD/CHF, EUR/CHF Flows- SNB did not like CHF trend, so they are trying to change it

SNB has never been a particularly subtle institution and the flagging performance of the Swiss economy has prompted Swiss central bankers to warn the market more than once that they were prepared to do whatever is necessary to support the economy. Today's rate cut and program to buy bonds is vaguely similar to steps taken by many other central banks. But, the announcement that they were going to buy other currencies to soften the CHF was a surprise. One wonders what kind opf precident has been set. M.B.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Free offices in City of London, German exports drop 38%

Dmitry Orlov, author of Reinventing Collapse; The Soviet Example and American Prospects (New Society Publishers, 2008), watched the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s and predicted a similar crisis would later occur in America .

Buckminster Fuller had also predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union and America in 1981— the twilight of the world's power structures— in his book, The Critical Path (St. Martin's Press, 1981). Both nations crippled by excessive debt brought on by excessive military spending (what Bucky called killingry ) were fading behemoths whose passing would make way for a better world.


China's customs agency said Wednesday that merchandise exports in February plunged 25.7% from a year earlier. That is one of the biggest drops on record, and extends the 17.5% fall in January for a fourth straight monthly decline.    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123674128193891921.html

http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article9296.html Euro in Freefall as European Monetary Union Faces Collapse

London Mayor Boris Johnson is trying to bolster the city's position as a global financial center by offering overseas companies one year's free rent if they relocate to the U.K. capital.


The Bloomberg Professional Global Confidence Index fell to 5.95 from 8.5 in February. A reading below 50 means pessimists outnumber optimists. Sentiment about Europe and the U.S. slid, while respondents in Asia were less pessimistic about their region, the survey showed. German factory orders fell 38 percent in January from a year earlier, the government said today.


March 11 (Bloomberg) -- German manufacturing gorders collapsed in January as the global recession smothered exports.

Orders plunged 38 percent from a year earlier, the biggest drop since data for a reunified Germany started in 1991, the Economy Ministry in Berlin said today. From December they fell 8 percent, four times as much as economists expected and extending their worst decline on record.

"The annual slump is absolutely catastrophic," said Alexander Koch, an economist at UniCredit MIB in Munich. "The extent of declines is terrifying."     http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601068&sid=apE182UITs2E&refer=home

Monday, March 9, 2009

Gerald Celente Expect Hunger Riots all over 03-Mar-09

Warning of Total collapse of the system unless Washington acts

What's Dead (Short Answer: All Of It)

Just so you have a short list of what's at stake if Washington DC doesn't change policy here and now (which means before the collapse in equities comes, which could start as soon as today, if the indicators I watch have any validity at all.  For what its worth, those indicators are painting a picture of the Apocalypse that I simply can't believe, and they're showing it as an imminent event - like perhaps today imminent.)

  • All pension funds, private and public, are done.  If you are receiving one, you won't be.  If you think you will in the future, you won't be.  PBGC will fail as well.  Pension funds will be forced to start eating their "seed corn" within the next 12 months and once that begins there is no way to recover.
  • All annuities will be defaulted to the state insurance protection (if any) on them.  The state insurance funds will be bankrupted and unable to be replenished.  Essentially, all annuities are toast.  Expect zero, be ecstatic if you do better.  All insurance companies with material exposure to these obligations will go bankrupt, without exception.  Some of these firms are dangerously close to this happening right here and now; the rest will die within the next 6-12 months.  If you have other insured interests with these firms, be prepared to pay a LOT more with a new company that can't earn anything off investments, and if you have a claim in process at the time it happens, it won't get paid.  The probability of you getting "boned" on any transaction with an insurance company is extremely high - I rate this risk in excess of 90%.
  • The FDIC will be unable to cover bank failure obligations.  They will attempt to do more of what they're doing now (raising insurance rates and doing special assessments) but will fail; the current path has no chance of success.  Congress will backstop them (because they must lest shotguns come out) with disastrous results.  In short, FDIC backstops will take precedence even over Social Security and Medicare.
  • Government debt costs will ramp.  This warning has already been issued and is being ignored by President Obama.    When (not if) it happens debt-based Federal Funding will disappear.  This leads to....
  • Tax receipts are cratering and will continue to.  I expect total tax receipts to fall to under $1 trillion within the next 12 months.  Combined with the impossibility of continued debt issue (rollover will only remain possible at the short duration Treasury has committed to over the last ten years if they cease new issue) a 66% cut in the Federal Budget will become necessary.  This will require a complete repudiation of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, a 50% cut in the military budget and a 50% across-the-board cut in all other federal programs.  That will likely get close.
  • Tax-deferred accounts will be seized to fund rollovers of Treasury debt at essentially zero coupon (interest).  If you have a 401k, or what's left of it, or an IRA, consider it locked up in Treasuries; it's not yours any more.  Count on this happening - it is essentially a certainty.
  • Any firm with debt outstanding is currently presumed dead as the street presumption is that they have lied in some way.  Expect at least 20% of the S&P 500 to fail within 12 months as a consequence of the complete and total lockup of all credit markets which The Fed will be unable to unlock or backstop.  This will in turn lead to....
  • The unemployed will have 5-10 million in direct layoffs added within the next 12 months.  Collateral damage (suppliers, customers, etc) will add at least another 5-10 million workers to that, perhaps double that many.  U-3 (official unemployment rate) will go beyond 15%, U-6 (broad form) will reach 30%. 
  • Civil unrest will break out before the end of the year.  The Military and Guard will be called up to try to stop it.  They won't be able to.  Big cities are at risk of becoming a free-fire death zone.  If you live in one, figure out how you can get out and live somewhere else if you detect signs that yours is starting to go "feral"; witness New Orleans after Katrina for how fast, and how bad, it can get.

The good news is that this process will clear The Bezzle out of the system.

The bad news is that you won't have a job, pension, annuity, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and, quite possibly, your life.

It really is that bleak folks, and it all goes back to Washington DC being unwilling to lock up the crooks, putting the market in the role it has always played - that of truth-finder, no matter how destructive that process is.

Only immediate action from Washington DC, taking the market's place, can stop this, and as I get ready to hit "send" I see the market rolling over again, now down more than 3% and flashing "crash imminent" warnings.  You may be reading this too late for it to matter.



http://www.dailyreckoning.com/dividend-drop-off-when-cushions-turn-to-rocks/ "the nation's five largest railroads have put more than 30% of their boxcars – 206,000 in all – into storage." Yikes! A third less volume!

Cramer admits nationalization may cause revolution

http://video.mainstreet.com/msvideo/10465571/cramer-nationalization-would-crush-america.html#10465571 Cramer nationalization would wipe out insurance and pose social threat

Asian central banks are abandoning a six-month campaign of defending their currencies, reversing course to cheapen exports that are falling the most in a decade.... http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=a92NeP7O8ogk&refer=home

"We are doing things now that are potentially very inflationary," he said. Buffett called on Congress to unite behind President Barack Obama, comparing the economic crisis to a military conflict that needs a commander-in-chief. "Patriotic Americans will realize this is a war," he said.


http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aZ1kcJ7y3LDM&refer=home Global Financial Assets Lost $50 Trillion Last Year, ADB Says

http://www.mainstreet.com/article/smart-spending/bargains/deals/no-cash-no-problem-bartering-booms-online Barter Booms online

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Currency Performance of Emerging Markets weakens

FROM RGE * YTD Currency performance as of Mar 6, 2009: Worst-performers->S.Korea (-18.7%), Malaysia (-7.3%), Singapore (-7%). Depreciated->India (-5.8%), Thailand (-3.6%), Indonesia (-5.9%), Philippines (-2.5%), Pakistan (-2%), Taiwan (-5.6%), Hong Kong (-0.08%), China (-0.2%), Vietnam (+0.1%)


* Slowing capital flows: Heightened global risk aversion and investor redemption from EMs, bond and equity sell-off by FIIs and capital outflows from Asia; liquidity crunch amid money market turmoil; strengthening of USD. Unwinding of foreign currency debt by domestic entities; unwinding of carry trade. Aggressive interest rate cuts and low possibility of allowing appreciation in near-term are also deterring inflows. FDI is showing signs of easing amid global credit crunch. External bank borrowing and capital raising activity in international capital markets have also taken a hit

* Easing external balances: exports are contracting in all emerging Asian countries due to global recession, with most exports bound to US/EU. EMs are slowing significantly and China's imports for re-export are also slowing. Commodity price correction is hurting exports of Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam which benefited from 2008's commodity boom. High oil and commodity prices and strong domestic demand in 2008 had also put pressure on commodity importers. But countries with stronger FDI prospects and/or stronger fiscal and current a/c positions are less vulnerable to currency depreciation than their peers. Also, imports contracting (slowing industry, imports for re-exports, consumer demand) greater than exports in some countries is containing risks to the trade deficit

* Central Banks: To prevent large currency depreciation, central bank intervention in FX markets like India, S.Korea, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia has increased in recent months leading to a decline in forex reserves. For countries with smaller reserves, intervention might be limited ahead. Some central banks also injecting dollar liquidity, arranging USD swap agreements with Fed and introducing other restrictions on converting currency in domestic markets. Some central banks are also easing foreign capital inflows, restricting USD outflow and currency conversion. Contracting exports is also causing several Asian central banks shift to depreciation bias to support growth esp. as interest rates cuts are approaching low levels in many countries with risk of deflation and are ineffective to stimulate lending, and size of fiscal stimulus is constrained by fiscal deficit in many countries

* Risks: Currencies will face downwards pressure since exports will continue to contract through most of 2009 and foreign investor risk aversion will also continue esp. as risks to Asian growth escalate. FDI, remittances and debt inflows incl. bank borrowings will be hit more than expected. Depreciation bias will instead raise import cost for firms and consumers, and impact trade balance and import inflation


* With many currencies (most notably KRW and INR) having already reverted back to where they stood at the start of 2002, the pressure on currencies shouldn't prove as extreme from here on

* ANZ: Although risk aversion and debt redemptions remain an immediate hurdle for KRW, USD-KRW will lead USD-AXJ lower later in 2009. Singapore's monetary policy to re-centre and widen the S$NEER policy band would pave way for further gains in USD-SGD. Further gains are assured in USD-TWD with staggering drop in exports, record contraction in GDP, and bleak outlook

* Scotia: Depreciation trend will be reversed in the latter part of 2009 if China resists internal pressures to devalue the renminbi; Fiscal stimulus, rising savings will limit capital outflows that have pressured the exchange rates; Developing Asia may be convinced they cannot rely on export-led growth models; implications of the U.S. financing requirements

* Morgan Stanley: AXJ currencies most vulnerable amid significant risks to growth and capital outflows in near-term but will rally once global economy bottoms; fiscal rather than monetary stimulus (rate cuts) to contain crisis and slowdown will support the currencies. Sharp depreciation of currencies against USD (except those with large current a/c surpluses) has caused dislocations in balance sheets of many companies and countries with external liabilities

* Standard Chartered: Given the fundamentals are solid and growth prospects are bright, KRW, PHP, INR, IDR to lead the rally in AXJ currencies in H2-2009 just as they led the AXJ currency correction in 2008. Small, open economy currencies such as SGD, MYR, TWD,THB, VND will weaken on slowing growth, capital outflows, global recession

* Credit Suisse: Countries most exposed to G-3 (Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, S.Korea) will witness more depreciation relative to those less exposed to G-3 (India, Indonesia, China, Philippines, Thailand)

* ABN Amro (not online): Taiwan, Malaysia, Thailand will perform better due to current a/c surplus, lower capital dependence; India, S.Korea, Vietnam will weaken as high import bill impacts current a/c deficit

* DBS: Singapre dollar is facing the strongest technical pressure to depreciate, based on the recession and the fact that Singapore manages its currency against the euro which has also weakened


Mar 7, 2009

Thursday, March 5, 2009

FDIC does not have enough funds to cover deposit insurance, Bair admits

FDIC's Bair warns on bank deposit insurance fund

By MARCY GORDON – 23 hours ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — The head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. has warned that the fund insuring Americans' bank deposits could be wiped out this year without the money the agency is seeking in new fees from U.S. banks and thrifts.

FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair acknowledged, in a letter to bank CEOs, that the new increased fees and hefty emergency premium the agency voted to levy last week will bring a "significant expense" to banks, especially amid a recession and financial crisis when their earnings are under pressure.

"We also recognize that assessments reduce the funds that banks can lend in their communities to help revitalize the economy," Bair wrote.

But given the accelerating bank failures that have been depleting the deposit insurance fund, she said, it "could become insolvent this year."

"Without substantial amounts of additional assessment revenue in the near future, current projections indicate that the fund balance will approach zero or even become negative," Bair wrote in the letter dated Monday to the chief executives of the nation's 8,305 federally insured banks and thrifts.

The industry, especially smaller community banks, has said the new insurance fees will place an extra burden on an already struggling sector. A federal banking regulator said last week the new premiums will unfairly burden smaller banks that didn't contribute to the financial crisis with reckless lending.

As loan defaults have soared, reflecting the ravages of rising unemployment and sliding home prices, bank failures have cascaded and sapped billions out of the fund that insures regular accounts up to $250,000. The fund now stands at its lowest level in nearly a quarter-century, $18.9 billion as of Dec. 31, compared with $52.4 billion at the end of 2007.

The FDIC now expects that bank failures will cost the insurance fund around $65 billion through 2013, up from an earlier estimate of $40 billion. There have been 16 bank collapses already this year, following 25 in 2008 — which included two of the biggest savings and loans, Washington Mutual Inc. and IndyMac Bank.

The new insurance fees are meant to raise $27 billion this year to replenish the fund.

Bair said the plan protects bank depositors as well as taxpayers, because it likely means the FDIC won't have to go to the Treasury Department and tap public money to replenish the insurance fund.

Bair has not ruled out that possibility for a short-term loan, but said she doesn't expect to take the more drastic action of using its $30 billion long-term credit line with Treasury — something that has never been done.

"Some have suggested that we should turn to taxpayers for funding," she said in her letter to the bank executives. "But banks — not taxpayers — are expected to fund the system, and I believe Congress would look skeptically on such a course of action."

Furthermore, she said, turning to taxpayers "could open up a whole new debate about the degree of government involvement in the affairs of insured banks."

The FDIC plan puts new charges on a battered industry while the Obama administration is seeking to pump as much as $750 billion in additional federal aid into ailing banks under its financial rescue plan. The FDIC, as a regulatory agency charged with protecting the insurance fund, acts independently from the administration.

The new emergency premium, to be collected from all federally insured institutions on Sept. 30, will be 20 cents for every $100 of their insured deposits. That compares with an average premium of 6.3 cents paid by banks and thrifts last year.

The FDIC also raised the regular insurance premiums for banks to between 12 and 16 cents for every $100 in deposits starting in April, up from a range of 12 to 14 cents.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Next Generation Investment Banking, US collapse predicted, Indians cannot create plumbing system

AnalysisBoston Consulting GroupChandy Chandrashekhar, Alenka Grealish, Philippe Morel and Shubh SaumyaMar 04, 2009    http://www.bcg.com/impact_expertise/publications/files/Next_Generation_Investment_Bank_March_2009.pdf

MOSCOW — If you're inclined to believe Igor Panarin, and the Kremlin wouldn't mind if you did, then President Barack Obama will order martial law this year, the U.S. will split into six rump-states before 2011, and Russia and China will become the backbones of a new world order.

Panarin might be easy to ignore but for the fact that he is a dean at the Foreign Ministry's school for future diplomats and a regular on Russia's state-guided TV channels. And his predictions fit into the anti-American story line of the Kremlin leadership..... http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,504384,00.html

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601109&sid=aErNiP_V4RLc&refer=home India Failing to Control Open Defecation Blunts Nation's Growth

Monday, March 2, 2009

No Leverage alpha in spot FX: QEPs and Professionals only

The EES flagship managed product FXV1 has recently been modified to meet a growing demand from institutional investors seeking deleveraged models in light of the new financial climate.   FXV1 achieved slightly greater than 2% return (after commissions but before performance fees) in February using leverage ratios between 1.5:1 and .5:1.    Maximum open position drawdown was less than 1.1%, with no realized account balance drawdown for the month.

The minimum account size for the FXV1 managed account program is $100,000 USD.  FXV1 can be traded at any broker using the Meta Trader 4 platform.  Money Managers, CTAs, and Hedge Funds wishing to use the model on their clients' accounts may run the strategy in-house using their own facility.  

The performance shown is actual performance of a live account. EES continually invests in the development of risk management mechanisms using robust and efficient mathematical and programming tools.


Sunday, March 1, 2009

Foreign-Exchange Turnover Dropped ‘Sharply’ in 2008, BIS Says

Foreign-Exchange Turnover Dropped 'Sharply' in 2008, BIS Says

By Kim-Mai Cutler

March 2 (Bloomberg) -- Trading in the world's three leading currency pairs fell by about 50 percent on electronic-broking services in the last quarter as volatility climbed to a record, the Bank for International Settlements said.

"Activity levels dropped sharply across the board," Paola Gallardo and Alexandra Heath, analysts at the Basel, Switzerland-based BIS, wrote in a report released yesterday. "Market makers may have been less willing to quote on electronic platforms to avoid being caught by adverse price movements, thereby driving activity through phone transactions."

Currency fluctuations became more exaggerated after Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.'s Sept. 15 bankruptcy drove investors to sell riskier assets and repay loans. Volatility implied by dollar-yen options expiring in one month, a measure of expectations for future currency moves, rose to 41.79 percent on Oct. 24, the highest level since Bloomberg began compiling the data in December 1995.

Increased volatility can deter traders by making profits more difficult to predict. Firms that rely on electronic transactions, such as proprietary and prime brokerage accounts, may have scaled back foreign-exchange trading in line with other asset classes, the BIS said. Quantitative trading may have fallen as computer-based models failed to capture the changing market environment, according to the bank.

"Some forms of trading activity, such as automated trading, which rely on electronic execution methods and are based on rules designed to work in normal conditions, may be abandoned at times of high volatility," the bank said.

Money-Market Squeeze

The BIS said bid-ask spreads, or the difference between the best buying and selling prices, more than doubled between September and December as turnover fell. Euro-dollar is the most actively traded currency pair, followed by dollar-yen and pound- dollar, the BIS said in its triennial survey published in 2007.

As currency trading volumes slumped, short-term dollar funding needs for banks outside the U.S. became "acute" as financial institutions hoarded cash, freezing money markets, in the wake of Lehman's bankruptcy, BIS analysts Patrick McGuire and Goetz von Peter wrote in a separate study released yesterday.

Before the credit crisis erupted in August 2007, financial institutions accumulated positions in foreign-denominated assets that led to a short-term dollar funding gap for major European banks of between $1.1 trillion and $1.3 trillion, the report said. Institutions met their funding needs by borrowing from central banks and money markets, the BIS said.

The cost of three-month dollar loans rose to 332 basis points more than the Federal Reserve's target rate on Oct. 10, the biggest difference since at least 1984, as short-term funding markets dried up.

"The crisis has shown how unstable banks' sources of funding can become," the BIS said. "When heightened credit risk concerns crippled these sources of short-term funding, the chronic U.S. dollar funding needs become acute."

To contact the reporter on this story: Kim-Mai Cutler in London at kcutler@bloomberg.net

Last Updated: March 1, 2009 16:07 EST