Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Bailout : Reps reconsider

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Some House Republicans, who were instrumental in defeating a financial-market rescue package earlier this week, are reconsidering their votes amid signs the crisis on Wall Street is spreading throughout the country. One lawmaker, Tennessee Republican Zach Wamp , said, ``I'm going to vote yes,'' in an interview on Bloomberg Television. At least four other Republican lawmakers, John Shadegg of Arizona, Jim Gerlach and Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania and Patrick Tiberi of Ohio, may switch their ballots as the House prepares to vote on the measure again, probably tomorrow afternoon. The Senate last night approved the $700 billion bill, 74-25. The legislation authorizes the government to buy troubled assets from financial institutions rocked by record home foreclosures. It contains provisions favored by House Republicans, including $149 billion in tax breaks, a higher limit on federal bank-deposit insurance and a change in securities laws. It also reiterates the authority of securities regulators to suspend asset-valuing rules that corporate executives blame for fueling the crisis. Those sweeteners have helped sway Gerlach, as did phone calls from his suburban Philadelphia constituents. Many shifted from opposing the bailout to supporting it following the record 778-point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average after the House's 228-205 defeat of the legislation Sept. 29. U.S. stocks dropped today. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index slid 35.74, or 3.1 percent, to 1,125.32 at 1:21 p.m. in New York. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 286.18, or 2.6 percent, to 10,544.89 .

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.



Dems Want Pay Limits, Loan Aid in Wall Street Bailout
Dems Want Pay Limits, Loan Aid in Wall Street Bailout, Senate Democrats are proposing to add ... Rep. Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said the House ...
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Business/Economy (News/Activism)
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stock futures pointed higher Tuesday on hopes the House of Representatives will reconsider the $700 billion bailout package rejected in the last ...
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Corporate Legal Departments: News - Business Exchange
Microsoft Urges Congress to Reconsider Bailout Representatives to reconsider and to support legislation that will re-instill confidence and ...
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Stocks end mixed amid bailout review hopes - MarketWatch
... steep losses Tuesday on hopes that U.S. lawmakers will reconsider a $700 billion financial-sector bailout ... steps after Monday's stunning defeat in the House, when representatives ...
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bailout | The Next Right
House of Representatives defeated a massive $700 billion bailout of Wall Street investment ... Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed ... If Wall Street gets this bail out, so ...
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Editorial: The Bailout
Tim Holden; in New Jersey, Republican Reps. Frank LoBiondo and Christopher Smith. The House hopes to reconsider the bailout bill again tomorrow. Changing those six votes, along with a handful of others, could help to undo Monday's damage. If the House ...
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Source: Philadelphia Daily News
NewsDateTime: 10/1/2008

Senate backs sweetened bailout; next is the hard part
WASHINGTON - The Senate strongly endorsed the $700 billion economic bailout plan ... Reps. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., and Ramstad -- both of whom on Monday voted no ... inclusion of parity, tax extenders and the FDIC increases has caused me to reconsider ...
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Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune
NewsDateTime: 6 hours ago

Oklahoma CEOs urge approval of bailout plan
... they are disappointed in Congress' inaction to approve a bailout measure earlier in the week. The group praises U.S. Reps. Dan Boren and Tom Cole for voting in favor of the bill and asks Reps. Mary Fallin, Frank Lucas and John Sullivan to reconsider ...
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Source: Forbes
NewsDateTime: 10/1/2008

John DiStaso's Granite Status: Bailout pressures NH reps
John DiStaso's Granite Status: Bailout pressures NH reps By JOHN DISTASO Senior Political Reporter 2 hours, 19 minutes ago ... role is changed from advisory to one that has "teeth," she would then "sit down and make a decision" and reconsider ...
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Source: Union Leader
NewsDateTime: 14 hours ago

Bailout foes still hopeful for a deal
The defeated congressional bailout plan needs emergency surgery in order to win ... were signs Tuesday that some lawmakers, including several Arizonans, could reconsider. ... across the political spectrum from Shadegg and fellow conservative GOP Reps ...
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Source: AZCentral.com
NewsDateTime: 10/1/2008



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: 9/22/2008 8:03:52 PM


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