Saturday, July 12, 2008

Another ibank on its knees

No not in Kenya, but in the US.
In the weeks before it was offered to JP Morgan for two dollars, Bear Stearns was proclaiming to all and sundry that it had the capital to survive as shorters leaked rumour after rumour about the opposite. In eerily reminiscent scenes, Lehman Brothers the next largest ibank, has spent this week having to reassure markets that its financially stable. Shorters (investors who bet on a shareprice falling) are having none of it and have been leaking rumours about its counterparties running from doing business with it. Jana the price closed at $14, half its book value. A large part of the reason for this is its Q2 announcement where it revealed that it had $60bn of mortgage assets. Were these to be written-off, they would leave it with around $40bn of assets, not enough to trade profitably. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, may also need cash injection to survive.

In the UK, B&B, one of the large mortgage lenders will almost certainly need some concerted help either from the UK gova, or the banking industry otherwise its down. RBS is selling every piece of furniture to raise capital but will probably pass muster.
All because of too much of a good thing...


Ssembonge said...

This crisis has me worried. If FRE and FNM fold shop then the US will be doomed.

And it's not that house prices are too high, it's people who borrowed more than they could afford.

Remember when I said the US RE market is worth $13 trillion and the write-off's will be significant?

MainaT said...

Ssem, you noticed my caveat when I responded to your comment. If the economy had behaved rationally by re-pricing securitisations rather than closing that market, houseprices would still be rising albeit slowly. And of course if the laon qualification side worked better. If you think about it, what is happening now is capitalism gone irrational.

In the UK as an example, there is virtually no new greenfields and hardly any brownfields for new houses to be built i.e. there is no supply. So all things being equal, the market should be seeing some low house price growth. Instead because there is virtually no interbank lending, banks are scared to lend to any body unless their income multiple to loan value is around 3 times! Result, there are no first-buyers and the bottom is dropped out of the housing market.