Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Bailout : Mark-to-market accounting

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Mark-to-market is an accounting methodology of assigning a value to a position held in a financial instrument based on the current market price for the instrument or similar instruments. For example, the final value of a futures contract that expires in 9 months will not be known until it expires. If it is marked to market, for accounting purposes it is assigned the value that it would fetch in the open market currently. Section 132 of the proposed Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 , titled "Authority to Suspend Mark-to-Market Accounting" restates the Securities and Exchange Commission ’s authority to suspend the application of FAS 157 if the SEC determines that it is in the public interest and protects investors. Section 133 of the proposed Act, titled "Study on Mark-to-Market Accounting," requires the SEC, in consultation with the Federal Reserve Board and the Department of the Treasury , to conduct a study on mark-to-market accounting standards as provided in FAS 157, including its effects on balance sheets, impact on the quality of financial nformation, and other matters, and to report to Congress within 90 days on its findings. On September 30, 2008 the SEC issued clarifications regarding the implementation of fair value accounting, to help address concerns regarding the impact of fair value measurement on financial institutions holding mortgage backed securities (MBS). This guidance helps clarify that forced liquidations are not indicative of fair value, as this is not an "orderly" transaction. Further, expected cash flows from such instruments are an appropriate means of valuation, subject to applicable adjustments for default risks. Under FAS 157, many companies had been forced to deeply mark-down (reduce) the value of MBS due to their inability to sell them, resulting in margin calls from investors, even when cash flows from the securities suggested a much higher value. In short, the SEC has acknowledged the market for MBS is not "orderly" and fair value standards should be more liberally applied to reflect the expected cash value. .

Many on Wall Street and the rest of us are still digesting the momentous events of the last 10 days. Between one and three trillion dollars worth of financial assets have evaporated. Wall Street has been effectively nationalized. The Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department are making all the major strategic decisions in the financial sector and, with the rescue of the American International Group (AIG), the U.S. government now runs the world's biggest insurance company. At $700 billion, the biggest bailout since the Great Depression is being desperately cobbled together to save the global financial system.



OpenMarket.org » Archive » Paulson bailout would worsen ...
... Secretary Henry Paulson’s $700 billion bailout — stopping the “contagion” of securitized loans that have become illiquid — could be achieved if mark-to-market accounting ...
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The Bailout Alternative: Virtual Mark to Market « blog maverick
According to some pundits, the simplest solution to our economic crisis is to suspend or abolish the mark to market accounting rules. For those unfamiliar.
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OpenMarket.org » accounting
... Secretary Henry Paulson’s $700 billion bailout — stopping the “contagion” of securitized loans that have become illiquid — could be achieved if mark-to-market accounting ...
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Wonk Room » Why Newt Gingrich Is Wrong About Mark-To-Market ...
Why Newt Gingrich Is Wrong About Mark-To-Market Accounting » Calling the Bush-Paulson bailout proposal a “ dead loser ” and a “ very, very bad idea,” Newt Gingrich is ...
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Bernanke: Bailout Would Cool Fire Sales - Accounting - CFO.com
Although many banks support a temporary halt to mark-to-market accounting, 'doing this would only hurt investor confidence,' the Fed chairman says.
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Senate Passes Bailout 74-25
The bailout will insure that a depression will not occur that is the real intention. Pass the bailout and avoid the ... Alright the mark to market accounting rule made the banks take sub-prime write downs by realizing losses on loans today NOT as these ...
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Source: BusinessWeek
NewsDateTime: 35 minutes ago

Economists Raise Concerns About Bailout Plan
While some politicians were reconsidering their opposition to the bailout this week, there is one group ... All the economists criticized the government-mandated accounting rules, so-called “mark to market.” While these rules were reasonable in ...
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Source: FOX News
NewsDateTime: 1 hour ago

Senate gives new life to bailout; Levin, Stabenow split votes
As in the debate before the House defeated the bailout Monday, backers in the Senate warned the rescue was ... Some House Republicans had pushed to temporarily repeal such mark-to-market rules entirely, but accounting firms and some consumer groups said ...
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Source: Detroit Free Press
NewsDateTime: 2 hours ago

House Holds Fate of Bailout Plan
Hoyer said it would be up to Republicans to convince more of their members to vote for the bailout for it to pass in ... The bill also reaffirms the Securities and Exchange Commission's authority to suspend so-called mark-to-market accounting, an issue ...
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Source: Wall Street Journal
NewsDateTime: 1 hour ago

Suspend Mark-To-Market Now!
... regulators fail to use their discretion--can fix 70% of the financial crisis by changing the mark-to-market accounting rule, we should change the rule first before attempting to pass another reevaluated bailout package. "Mark-to-Market" Accounting ...
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Source: Forbes
NewsDateTime: 9/29/2008



the financial system is on the verge of collapse. But the complacency exhibited by many market pundits in the wake of the most wrenching episode in modern financial history is sufficiently shocking that it almost demands some scare-tactic response. By our count some 300 articles were published last month telling investors "don't panic" or "not to panic." Urging calm is one thing. But too much soothing talk implies that there are no lessons to be learned. What's the use of a vertigo-inducing bout of market turbulence if the only conclusion is "stay the course"? At the very least, it's a good reminder to take a hard look at your financial plans and to reevaluate how much market risk you can truly withstand in your portfolio. Because - don't panic! - this might not be completely over. Richard Bernstein, the chief investment strategist at Merrill Lynch, worries that investors still don't appreciate the scope of the credit crisis. "It's weird - the canary in the mineshaft has fallen over, and now everyone thinks there's a problem with canaries," says Bernstein, who, despite sounding the alarm about a global credit bubble as far back as 2006, could find himself out of a job after Merrill's forced sale to Bank of America. (Too bad Bernstein's Merrill bosses didn't heed his warnings.) In Bernstein's eyes, the canary is the U.S. mortgage market, but the silent killer of loose credit was an international epidemic. "I don't perceive that most investors fully appreciate either the depth of the credit bubble or how broad-reaching it was in terms of emerging markets and hedge funds and commodities and all these other inflated asset classes that were dependent on easy credit," he says. If consumers suddenly can't refinance their mortgages and credit cards and if more corporations can't issue bonds or tap lines of bank credit, their ability to weather any slowdown will be diminished. "The fundamentals are still extremely scary," says star financial-sector analyst (and recent Fortune cover subject ) Meredith Whitney of Oppenheimer & Co. "It all gets down to how much liquidity will be created for consumers and corporations, and at the moment there's still less and less by the hour." Here's another reason to be concerned: The professionals managing your money haven't gotten this market right. Consider that at the market low on Sept. 17, only five diversified U.S. equity mutual funds - out of a universe of 9,100 - had positive total returns for the year, according to Morningstar. FIVE! Even after the market rebounded, there were still only three funds with returns this year of 10% or better: Parnassus Small-Cap, Heartland Value Plus, and Forester Value. If you haven't heard of any of those funds, that's the point. The investing world's best and brightest appear to be just as confused as the rest of us. Like Bill Miller. His streak of beating the S&P 500 now a distant memory, the Legg Mason Value Trust manager is down 35% this year. CGM Focus's Ken Heebner, whom Fortune dubbed "America's hottest investor " in June, is down 16%, while FPA Capital's Bob Rodriguez ("the best fund manager of our time," according to our sister magazine Money) is down 3%. So how did the three 10%-plus returners beat the odds? One common thread is that they all stayed away from bank stocks. Beyond that, each went his own way. Thomas Forester, who runs his eponymous $20 million fund out of his study in suburban Chicago, made a successful bet on consumer staples - names like Anheuser-Busch, J.C. Penney, and Wal-Mart (WMT , Fortune 500 ). Brad Evans, manager of Heartland Value Plus, got into and out of oil stocks at the right times. And Jerome Dodson, the 65-year-old manager of Parnassus Small-Cap, was king of the contrarians, earning his double-digit returns with an assist from the unlikeliest of sectors: homebuilders. "Every one of my analysts said, 'Don't do it,'" Dodson says of his early-year decision to buy the builders. But Dodson was convinced that the companies' stocks would bounce back long before their plummeting earnings did. He wound up taking sizable positions in Pulte Homes and Toll Brothers, which are up 40% and 17%, respectively this year. Dodson himself admits he got a little lucky. You can't count on hitting that kind of jackpot. But by taking a hard look at your portfolio, you can minimize your losses and prepare yourself to take advantage of new opportunities. And this is one time when following simple financial-planning tips could be worth more to your bottom line than picking the right stocks or funds. So let's start with some strategy before we get to our specific investment recommendations.
Credit remained hard to come by Thursday, even after the revised government bailout plan cleared the Senate, as investors waited to see if the bill can pass through the House. The Senate on Wednesday night passed a financial industry rescue plan that was slightly changed from one rejected by the House just two days earlier. The bill would allow the Treasury to buy up to $700 billion of troubled assets from financial institutions. Those assets, mostly mortgage-related, have caused the credit markets to seize up. With loads of troubled assets on their balance sheets, banks are hesitant to take on more loans if the risk of default is high. Furthermore, when banks need to write down those assets, they have less cash on hand to issue loans. That stops the financial system's gears from turning, in turn hurting customers who need a loan to finance a home, a car or tuition. Frozen cash flows also affects companies' ability to make payroll, which can result in layoffs. The major aim of the government's bailout plan is to free up banks to start lending again once their balance sheets are cleared of toxic holdings. But as the legislation faces a tough second vote Friday by the House, credit remains tight.

Market gauges: One indicator of how willing banks were to lend to other banks, called the "TED spread," showed high prices of loans between banks. The TED spread measures the difference between 3-month Libor and the 3-month Treasury borrowing rates and is a key indicator of risk. The higher the spread, the bigger the aversion to risk. On Thursday, the spread retreated slightly to 3.28% from 3.35% on Wednesday. On Tuesday, the measure surged as high as 3.53%, its highest level in more than 25 years. On Sept. 5, the TED spread was only 1.04%. Furthermore, the difference between the decade-old 3-month Libor and the Overnight Index Swaps rose to an all-time record 2.55%, up from 2.44% Wednesday, according to data reported by Bloomberg.com. It's the fifth-straight record for the measure, showing that banks are hoarding cash rather than lending to one another. The Libor-OIS "spread" measures how much cash is available for lending between banks, and is used by banks to determine lending rates. The bigger the spread, the less cash is available for lending.
Take some tax losses. If you buy and sell stocks in a taxable portfolio, it's likely that you have some holdings trading for well below what you originally paid. Our advice: Sell your losers pronto and book the capital losses. Those losses can be carried forward from one tax year to the next (and the next and the next) and thus used to offset future capital gains whenever the market rebounds. Not only that, but Boston accountant Gale Raphael of Raphael & Raphael points out that taxpayers can deduct up to $3,000 in capital losses from ordinary income. That amounts to a tax savings of $990 a year to someone in the 33% tax bracket. What if you think your losers are about to rebound? IRS rules prevent you from buying them back for 30 days. But if you can't wait, try using the proceeds from your tax-loss sale to purchase stocks similar to the ones you're selling. If you take a loss on United States Steel, for instance, replace it with rival steelmaker Nucor (NUE , Fortune 500 ). John Maloney, who manages high-net-worth accounts with M&R Capital in New York, says the IRS rules even allow you to take a tax loss on, say, Schlumberger, and replace it right away with an oil-services exchange-traded fund in which Schlumberger is a major holding. Says Maloney: "It won't trigger an objection unless it's materially the same security."
Market gauges: One indicator of how willing banks were to lend to other banks, called the "TED spread," showed high prices of loans between banks. The TED spread measures the difference between 3-month Libor and the 3-month Treasury borrowing rates and is a key indicator of risk. The higher the spread, the bigger the aversion to risk. On Thursday, the spread retreated slightly to 3.28% from 3.35% on Wednesday. On Tuesday, the measure surged as high as 3.53%, its highest level in more than 25 years. On Sept. 5, the TED spread was only 1.04%. Furthermore, the difference between the decade-old 3-month Libor and the Overnight Index Swaps rose to an all-time record 2.55%, up from 2.44% Wednesday, according to data reported by Bloomberg.com. It's the fifth-straight record for the measure, showing that banks are hoarding cash rather than lending to one another. The Libor-OIS "spread" measures how much cash is available for lending between banks, and is used by banks to determine lending rates. The bigger the spread, the less cash is available for lending. The Libor, or the London interbank offered rate, is a daily average of what banks charge other banks to lend money in London. Treasurys: Rather than invest in other financial institutions with similar risky assets on their balance sheets, banks and common investors bought up government bonds. Treasurys are considered to be safer havens than stocks or commercial paper, as they are less volatile and guaranteed by the U.S. government. The benchmark 10-year note rose 2/32 to 102-7/32 and its yield fell to 3.73% from 3.74% late Wednesday. Bond prices and yields move in opposite directions. The yield on the 3-month bill - considered by many to be the safest investment - rose to 0.80% from 0.79% late Wednesday. The 30-year bond rose 12/32 to 105-6/32 and its yield fell to 4.19% from 4.20%. The 2-year note edged up 2/32 to 100-14/32 and its yield dipped to 1.79% from 1.82% Wednesday






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Published on: 9/29/2008 5:58:47 PM
Title: Congressman Ron Paul Schools Bernanke on the Bailout Plan
Categories: Price,Monetary,Wall,Bail,Constitutionality,News,Bailout,Ron,Bernanke,Street,Out,Authority,Debt,Fixing,Federal,Paul,Depression,

Published on: 9/24/2008 11:32:51 AM
Title: Palin: Bailout is about healthcare!
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Published on: 9/25/2008 11:25:46 AM
Title: Sarah Palin Talks Bailout Proposal
Categories: interview,economy,taxes,cbs,wall,globalism,healthcare,main,palin,mccain,News,sarah,street,finance,bailout,couric,katie,budget,

Published on: 9/25/2008 7:47:40 AM


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