Market Commentary

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Russia Enters Georgia – Cumberland Exits Russian Stocks

Author: Bill Witherell, Post Date: August 13, 2008

The Russian economy, fueled by energy and commodity exports, registered impressive growth of 8.1% in 2007 and is on its way to over 7% this year and probably in 2009 as well.  The Russian stock market as measured by the DAX Global Russia Index (DXRPUS) advanced by 40% in 2007, and as recently as June […]

Auction Rate Securities (ARS) and a new Fed ‘Maiden Lane 2’. Also, Cleveland: ‘hold your water.’ And more on fishing weekend in Maine

Author: David Kotok, Post Date: August 10, 2008

The Auction Rate Securities (ARS) market saw big news this week as Merrill Lynch, UBS, and Citigroup settled about $30 billion in claims and agreed to pay investors by buying back their frozen paper over the next several months.  Each settlement has its own time period and terms. The theme is nearly the same in […]

Fishing and Forecasting

Author: David Kotok, Post Date: August 6, 2008

Intermittent rain didn’t dampen the spirits of the attendees at the annual fishing, economic, and financial retreat.  This year’s was the largest gathering ever. CNBC’s Steve Liesman added to the enthusiasm with the live coverage that started on Squawk Box Friday morning and carried on to other shows during the day.  Steve and his producer, […]

Sliced Bread or Double Dipping? More on Covered Bonds

Author: Bob Eisenbeis, Post Date: July 30, 2008

In what is now proving to be an unrelenting series of initiatives on the part of both Treasury and Congress to channel more funds into housing, no matter what the costs or risks to taxpayers, Treasury has put out a “Best Practices” guide with the aim of stimulating the market for covered bonds.1  A previous […]

Celebrating the Anniversary of the Credit Crunch in Maine

Author: David Kotok, Post Date: July 29, 2008

We have officially started year 2 of the credit crunch.  Some could argue that the actual start was in late May or June of 2007 when the first signs of widening credit spreads were observed.  In real time that was a difficult conclusion to reach since those early warning signs then were within the normal […]

How Safe is Your Bank?

Author: David R. Kotok, Post Date: July 25, 2008

In 1790, Edmund Burke, the founder of Anglo-American conservatism, waxed eloquently about the power and responsibilities of a government’s agencies in a democracy. He said: “To execute laws is a royal office; to execute orders is not to be king.  A political magistracy, though merely such, is a great trust.”  This warning came before there […]

Are Covered Bonds the Answer?

Author: Bob Eisenbeis, Post Date: July 24, 2008

In yet another effort to resuscitate the mortgage market (remember the Super SIV?), Secretary Paulson is now urging that a market be created for covered bonds.  What are covered bonds?  They are a German creation dating back to the late 1700s.  A bank-issued, covered bond is an obligation backed by an interest in a pool […]

The Global Bear Market in Equities

Author: Bill Witherell, Post Date: July 23, 2008

Before last week’s rebound, with few exceptions, equity markets around the globe had registered declines in excess of 20%, the magnitude commonly considered to indicate a “bear market.”  The convergence in market performance is striking. Over the period between the markets’ peak reached on October 12, 2007, and the low point of July 15 last […]

‘IndyMac: Who’s to Blame for What?’

Author: Bob Eisenbeis, Post Date: July 21, 2008

Last Monday witnessed the reopening of IndyMac under the management and receivership authority of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). Photos of lines formed by anxious depositors appeared in numerous news accounts and triggered widespread concern about the safety of depositor funds. (1) IndyMac’s regulator, the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS), closed the institution on […]

Tax-free Bond Opportunity: A VRDN Case Study

Author: John Mousseau, Post Date: July 20, 2008

Since early in 2008 there has been much congestion and volatility in the short-term tax-exempt bond market.  This has been due to the failure of the short-term auction-rate market, specifically the backup in yields in the variable-rate demand-note (VRDN) market caused by market aversion to downgraded insurers, the abject failure of auction markets of student […]

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