Posts Tagged ‘Securities and Exchange Commission’

Successful TARP Extended Through Most of 2010

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Geithner extends TARP program through most of next year.  An independent audit released by the bipartisan Congressional Oversight Panel (COP) has found the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to be effective, so much so that the Department of the Treasury has extended it to October 3, 2010.  Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner plans to use the remaining funds to assist families facing foreclosure and give loans to small businesses.

The COP was unable to fully gauge TARP’s impact because of other forces such as the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, tax cuts and actions by the Federal Reserve and Federal Deposit Insurance Company.  “Even so, there is broad consensus that the TARP was an important part of a broader government strategy that stabilized the U.S. financial system by renewing the flow of credit and averting a more acute crisis,” according to the report.  “Although the government’s response to the crisis was at first haphazard and uncertain, it eventually proved decisive enough to stop the panic and restore market confidence.”

That said, after 14 months of TARP, the panel admits that problems remain.  Banks are still skittish about making loans, toxic mortgage-related assets are still sullying banks’ balance sheets and smaller banks are susceptible to difficulties in the commercial real estate sector.  And, with 13 million additional home foreclosures expected over the next five years, “TARP’s foreclosure mitigation programs have not yet achieved the scope, scale and permanence necessary to address the crisis.”

Repayments from banks that received TARP dollars are expected to total $116 billion, including $45 billion that is being returned by Bank of America.  The government is likely to receive as much as $175 billion in repayments from companies it rescued by the end of 2010.

Back to the Futures? Not Just Yet. Investors Still Spooked by Derivatives

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

It’s no surprise that investors are still wary of investing in derivatives, given the financial devastation that these vehicles’ collapse caused last year.  Proof of the fact is that the IPO of a financial instrument designed to be on American home prices failed because its auction did not generate adequate investor interest.51916680SC005_NYSE

According to its Securities and Exchange Commission filing, MacroMarkets turned down all auction bids because there was an “insufficient demand for an equal number of Down and Up shares”.  In other words, MacroMarkets was forced to abandon the auction process because the offering would work only if there was an equal number of shares in both the “up” and the “down” trusts – and if each pair of shares totaled $50.  The firm had initially set a minimum closing investment pool of $125 million, though CEO Sam Masucci did not disclose the value of the bids received before pulling the plug.

MacroMarkets sought out investment from homebuilders and banks who want to hedge their housing exposure, as well as foreign investors seeking a stake in U.S. real estate.  The problem is that investors had difficulty valuing the shares because it meant predicting the movement of the 10-city index on which the offering was based.  That’s not easy in a housing market where prices may not have bottomed out yet.

When housing trusts eventually restart, their shares will trade under the symbols UMM for “up” and DMM for “down” on the NYSE Arca, the New York Stock Exchange’s all-electronic U.S. trading platform.

Dr. Geithner’s Harsh Medicine

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

The Obama administration has proposed the most comprehensive overhaul of the nation’s financial industry since the Great Depression.  The measures, as outlined by Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, geithnerwill require regulation of hedge funds for the first time and give government wide-ranging powers to seize and take apart companies that are perceived as threats to the overall economy.  The proposals are strong medicine indeed.

The measures, which require Congressional approval, are structured to entice private buyers by offering the similar supercharged leverage that prevailed during the financial boom-but one where oversight is de rigueur.   While the private sector is cutting back on its debt, the government believes that providing inexpensive financing is the best way to free up the market for illiquid debt.

The proposals give the Federal Reserve the authority to oversee the nation’s economy for signs of “systemic risk”.  The legislation will include significantly stronger requirements regarding the cash reserves and assets that institutions must have on hand to endure economic downturns.  Hedge funds, private-equity firms, derivatives and other private investment funds will be required to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission and will be subject to strict regulation.  Additionally, the government will establish a central clearinghouse to closely monitor trades in these markets.  Lastly, the administration will develop stricter requirements for money market funds so withdrawals don’t threaten the broader financial system.

Harsh medicine indeed, but the old system failed us all.  Secretary Geithner sees his proposals as a price worth paying to clean out banks’ balance sheets.  If the plan fails, it will be because banks were not willing to risk of taking a write-down and depleting precious capital.