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Beginning of the 1st quarter predictions?

Discussion in 'Financial Cents' started by melbo, Jan 1, 2008.

  1. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    Ambac, MBIA Outlook Lowered by S&P, ACA Cut to CCC

    MBIA Inc. and Ambac Financial Group Inc., the world's largest bond insurers, had the outlook on their AAA credit ratings lowered to negative from stable by Standard & Poor's, while ACA Capital Holdings Inc.'s guaranty ranking was cut to CCC from A.

    S&P also reduced its outlook for Financial Guaranty Insurance Co. and XL Capital Assurance Inc. to negative. The actions were ``prompted by worsening expectations'' for insured nonprime residential mortgage bonds and collateralized debt obligations of asset-backed securities, New York-based S&P said in a statement.

    ``The hits keep coming,'' said Gregory Peters, head of credit strategy at Morgan Stanley in New York. ``It's been our view that these guys are in a much more difficult predicament than investors or the companies themselves believed.''

    Industrywide downgrades would lead to losses of as much as $200 billion on securities being insured as some holders would be forced to sell their bonds in a depressed market because of their investment guidelines, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. A downgrade would also stifle the guaranty businesses that make up the majority of revenue at MBIA and Ambac.

    MBIA and Ambac lost more than half their stock market value this year on concerns they may lose their top ratings because they have insured securities linked to failing subprime mortgages. The companies reported combined losses of $2.9 billion in the third quarter after writing down the value of some debt they guarantee.

    Ambac fell $1.78, or 6.6 percent, to $25.20 at 12:12 p.m. in New York Stock exchange trading. MBIA dropped 9.6 percent to 25.04.

    ACA Capital

    ACA Capital is required to post collateral of about $1.7 billion if its credit rating falls below A-, management said during a Nov. 9 conference call. The rating was cut 12 levels today. The New York-based company said Nov. 19 it wouldn't be able to post that much or make termination payments on the contracts.

    Bear Stearns Cos. and Merrill Lynch & Co. are among several major banks in talks to bail out ACA, the New York Times reported today, citing two people familiar with the situation.

    ACA Capital rose 24 cents to 55 cents in over-the-counter trading. The shares, suspended by the New York Stock Exchange this week for breaching capitalization requirements, had plunged 98 percent this year.

    ACA Capital as of June 30 had sold protection to 31 counterparties through credit-default swaps on $61 billion of highly rated securities, including CDOs backed by subprime mortgage securities, according to filings. CDOs are created by packaging debt or derivatives into new bonds with varying ratings.

    The swap agreements effectively transferred the risk of having to report mark-to-market losses on the debt from banks and other holders of the securities to the bond insurers.

    Losses Grow

    Merrill Lynch may have used contracts with ACA Capital to pass off the market risk of $5 billion in CDOs, Roger Freeman, an analyst covering the brokerage industry for Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., wrote in a Nov. 5 report. If ACA Capital defaults on its swap contracts, Merrill Lynch could recognize unrealized losses on those securities of about $3 billion, Freeman wrote.

    For more than 20 years, the safety of bond insurance has eased the way for elementary schools, Wall Street banks and thousands of municipalities to sell debt with unquestioned credit quality. The bond insurers promise to make interest and principal payments as they come due on securities if the issuer falters.

    The collapse of the U.S. subprime mortgage market has led to about $76 billion of losses at securities firms and banks this year. Subprime loans are made to people with poor credit.

    Ambac, the second-biggest bond insurer, guarantees $546 billion of securities. MBIA stands behind about $652 billion of municipal and structured finance bonds, while FGIC Corp., parent of Financial Guaranty Insurance Co., insured $314 billion.

    On Notice

    The bond insurers are paying a price for expanding beyond municipal bonds to guaranteeing debt backed by subprime mortgages and home equity lines of credit as well as CDOs that contain asset-backed debt.

    Record defaults on the subprime debt contained in the bonds sparked losses that have spread throughout the credit markets, forcing the writedowns by banks.

    Moody's, Fitch and S&P, criticized throughout the credit slump for giving excessively high ratings to asset-backed debt, took a second look at the bond insurers in the past few weeks after sweeping downgrades of CDOs. The companies had issued reports as recently as October that said the insurers were unlikely to face capital constraints because of the subprime mortgage crisis.

    Though the rating companies have stopped short of formally reviewing bond insurers for possible downgrades, they put companies on notice that they may need to raise capital to keep their ratings.

    Fitch started a new review Nov. 5 and said it may downgrade one or more insurers after a six-week review. The ratings companies said they may need several weeks to determine which insurers may need more capital as a cushion to justify their AAA ratings. Moody's began its new study Nov. 8 and S&P followed on Nov. 26.

  2. AlterEgo

    AlterEgo Monkey+++

    Hypetiger is beginning to look like a genius.
  3. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

  4. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

  5. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    It's a science. All the "right people" will continue to make bank on recessions and depressions, just like they have always done. People don't own property anymore; it's real estate, so they buy the house and pay rent to the state for the use of the land. Monetizing debt has long been a huge market, and the declining value of the federal reserve notes is a sharp indicator of the need to refinance the national debt. There will be a point at which all of the bond security has been maximized no matter the case, and thus we will see an apex in economic growth. It's a really great time to own gold: when the dollar declines in "value", precious metals go through the roof in value, and when the market subsides and levels off, the gold can be repurchased at lower prices, creating massive profit by increasing the true amount of gold many times. This is just one example of many.

    The financial market, stocks, bonds, and securities -are a controlled fascet of the monetary system itself; being entirely dependent upon the banks themselves. Recessions are created as needed, they do not just "happen".
  6. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    The "world economy" does not have to balance. The ecomony both ours and the worlds is not a "Zero Sum" game. It is an expanding animal. New wealth is being created all the time all around the world, certainly some places will do it faster at any given time, some slower, some larger on a secular basis, and in some places wealth may contract for periods of time. But by and large, Wealth, which is the ultimate end game of any size economy, is growing and has been for all of humanities history. As for whether our economy is in the tank, I dont see it. Job growth for over 50 months and 8 million jobs is unprecedented in recorded history. We can argue about the value or quality of the jobs but job growth indicates expansion. Home mortgage rates at around 6%, I can remember when people thought they were geniuses for getting a 30 year fixed at 13.5%. And I am in my forties. Unemployment at 5% or less. Again I can remember those numbers in double digits. Gasoline is cheap when compared to 1974-5 prices adjusted for inflation. The so-called mortgage crisis? Over thirty percent of privately owned homes do not even have a mortgage. 5 % of mortgages late or in default? that equals 95% on time or ahead of schedule. 4 out of 5 sub-prime mortgages are on time, and these are the worst credit risks in our economy. This whole thing reminds me of a movie that has been remade many times over the years. The actors change but the end is still the same. Does no one remember 1991? or 1987? or 1984? or..... I could go on. As americans have been fleeing our own markets in 2007 while over 37 billion has been invested by soverign foreign funds. They certainly dont think that we are in the tank. We slow down a bit, we retrench and then we go on. I do not know which way the next 4-5% move in our GDP is, but I know for a fact which way the next 100% move is. I will close my post with this thought... On 10/09/02 the S&P 500 (A Proxy for our economy) closed at a low of 777. On Thursday 10/10/02 the headline in the USA Today business section read " Where's the Bottom, No End in Sight". On 10/09/07 the S&P 500 peaked at 1565 exactly five years to the day after the Bear market bottom. Are we there yet as an economy? I dont know, but quite frankly I dont care. To bet against the US economy in any situation or at any time over the last 230 some odd years has been the worst bet you could make. I am betting that it will be that way for the foreseeable future.
  7. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

    To bet against the US economy in any situation or at any time over the last 230 some odd years has been the worst bet you could make. I am betting that it will be that way for the foreseeable future.

    You could say that prior to 1971 when the US declared bankruptcy......since that happened, I don't believe you can use past performance to predict future results.

    No empires have lasted forever.
  8. Jonas Parker

    Jonas Parker Hooligan

    The problem is in derivatives, trillions of dollars of no-value "investments" insured by insurers without sufficient reserves to cover losses. Pension funds, IRAs, etc. have been "invested" in these Ponzi schemes by brokerage firms, banks, and individuals. Now the scam is coming to light and folks are realizing that their savings are probably lost. We're now betting on a US economy which is rife with fraud, and as far as I'm concerned, all my bets are off...
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