Commendatori's Blog

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For those who actually drank the Kool Aid, the inevitable is coming to pass…

Posted by commendatori on June 17, 2009

KoolAidMan_Fullpic_2

We all know I have been warning of this bear market rally. I know it has been a rough ride, but at the end of the day, a dollar is a dollar and a loss is a loss. I do hope nobody is surprised. This may not even be the end of the bear market rally, but the internals have been looking weak for the last week or two, and we all know how I felt about the fundamentals and the macro outlook.

Fears for financial system cut risk appetite

ECB warning prompts shift from equities. Risk appetite suffered a sharp deterioration on Monday as fresh uncertainty about the global economy and the financial system prompted investors to shift away from equities, commodities and emerging market assets into the perceived safety of government bonds and the dollar.

Eurozone banks face $283bn writedowns

ECB says risks to sector intensifying.

Eurozone banks face additional losses of more than $283bn this year and next as continental Europe’s severe recession intensifies strains on its financial sector, the European Central Bank has warned.

The fates of the eurozone economy and its banks have become increasingly interlinked, the ECB reported on Monday in its latest “financial stability review” with banks losses expected to be focused on their loan exposures. Risks to the stability of the financial sector remained high, it said, while “uncertainty prevails” over the shock-absorbing capacity of the banking system.

And from that bastion of unbiased reporting, CNBC: Asian Markets Slide, Optimism May Be Misplaced

No need to worry, we still have reasons to be bullish in the media. Check this out:

From WSJ’s Market Beat:

Rochdale Research analyst Richard Bove’s weekend note on Bank of America got a bit of attention today, largely for the section in which he writes “Bank of America is now experiencing horrific loan losses. It may have loan loss provisions of $46 billion this year.”

As Jon Ogg over at 24/7 Wall Street notes, the core call of the note is surprisingly positive. Bove upped his price target on Bank of America shares to $19 from $14, citing growing confidence in management. Bove also kept his “Buy” rating on the stock and wrote that Bank of America’s purchase of Merrill Lynch — and even Countrywide — will help it offset the losses it’s suffering on loans.

Concerning those losses, Bove has a couple interesting observations as to why Bank of America’s loan losses may be more pronounced than some competitors:

A key to the company’s success in driving its operating costs lower has been the implementation of automated systems and uniform products. The reduction in labor intensity in the process has carried with it a reduction in the personalized approach to lending.

The credit card industry or auto lending are examples of this process. Credit card loans are in fact personal loans that historically were provided after a customer spoke with a loan officer who generally knew the client’s background. Now the bank provides the loans to people it has never met and never interacted with using a systemized process. This is also true of automobile loans and in many cases of mortgages and home equity lines of credit.

These systems, now many decades old, are widely supported by consumers and have combined to lower the cost of originating loans and in increasing loan volumes. The problem with these systems is that they fail to detect changes in the borrower’s condition until losses start to appear. Then it is generally too late so that losses soar before the bank gains control of the process once again.
This is now happening throughout the industry and to a greater degree at Bank of America.

Countrywide is a veritable boiling cauldron of putrid assets and potentially devastating liabilities that are actually labeled as assets. Merrill Lynch was collapsing under its own weight in real time and BofA needed government assistance to close the deal. Bove says that these companies will help offset the losses it (BofA) is suffering on its loans, but the loans it is suffering from stem largely in part from Merrill and Countrywide. Circular logic moving in an ovular pattern????

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