Wednesday, June 17, 2009

New Regs for Financials; TARP Repayment Sparks Midday Rally

The Obama administration announced a number of proposed regulatory changes which, if enacted, would materially impact the overall functioning of the US economy. The Office of Thrift Supervision would be replaced by a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency and the Federal Reserve would have a larger role in the supervision of the US economy.

To some - including myself - giving the Federal Reserve any more control of the economy is a step in the wrong direction. The Federal Reserve, far beyond any other government or commercial body, bears the brunt of any blame for current economic conditions. After all, they are the issuers of the currency.

Requiring banks and mortgage brokers to offer simplified, clear, concise mortgage documentation is a step in the right direction. Imposition of a national usury law would be even more helpful. The recommendations now fall into the lap of congress to debate.

On the markets, Dan Gallagher has an excellent piece on the record-breaking supply of new issuance in May and speculative analysis of the condition.

S&P lowered credit ratings on 18 banks including Wells Fargo and Capital One, among some of the largest. The first banks began to repay TARP money to Treasury and began negotiating terms to purchase warrants from the government. 10 banks are reportedly repaying $68 billion. While this is truly good news, it is dilutive to the banks. That understanding sent financials to substantial losses on the day.

Stocks began to hit their best stride in late morning, reaching highs of the day shortly before 2:00 pm, but the advances were spare and not broadly-based with only 5 of 12 sectors sporting gains. By day's end, only the NASDAQ ended in positive territory. As far as snap-back rallies are concerned, this had to rank as one of the more disappointing. Besides the NASDAQ, this is the third straight day of losses for major indices. Not only was the midday rally cut short, but the usual late-day bounce failed to materialize approaching the close.

Dow 8,497.18, -7.49 (0.09%)
NASDAQ 1,808.06, +11.88 (0.66%)
S&P 500 910.71, -1.26 (0.14%)
NYSE Composite 5,864.55, -22.21 (0.38%)

Advancing and declining issues were nearly even, with losers leading winners, 3292-3003. New lows surpassed new highs for the 4th straight day, 70-32. Interestingly, volume was at its highest level in the past 8 sessions, suggesting that there's more dumping of stocks than would be apparent and that most of the buying was concentrated in tech and health care.

NYSE Volume 1,316,102,000
NASDAQ Volume 2,561,073,000

Commodities spent the day without much direction, but eventually ended mostly higher. Crude oil gained 56 cents, to $71.03, while gas prices in the US increased for the 50th straight day. Gold finished $3.90 higher, to $936.00. Silver gained another 15 cents, closing at $14.28 the ounce.

May CPI showed an increase of just 0.1%, a far slighter rise than analysts expected, furthering the deflationary argument. Stripping out the gains for gasoline and adjusting for the margin of error, consumer prices were net negative for the month.

Another sign of the times is today's bankruptcy filing by retailer Eddie Bauer (EBHI) and bid agreement to sell the remaining assets to a private equity firm.

For the optimistic crowd, here's Charles Schwab Chief Investment Advisor Liz Ann Sonders declaring that the recession is over. We'd like to believe her, but isn't she really longing to say that the worst of the recession may be over? See for yourself.

No comments: