Fannie and Freddie con’t

I just read an oped in the Wall Street Journal and it was too validating not to reference and quote. The piece is called the “Responsibility Tax” and they say this about who is exempt from the tax. “Also exempt are Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which operate outside of TARP but also surely did more than any other company to cause the housing boom and bust.” In sure signs of continued insanity ….”The White House wants to tax more capital away from profit-making banks to offset the intentional losses that the politicians have ordered up for Fan and Fred.” This all is making me nuts…

Bill Gross’s Latest Views

Yesterday I linked to Bill’s latest market overview called, Let’s Get Fisical,but it is so good I want to make sure you read it by providing an excerpt.

“If 2008 was the year of financial crisis and 2009 the year of healing via monetary and fiscal stimulus packages, then 2010 appears likely to be the year of “exit strategies,” during which investors should consider economic fundamentals and asset markets that will soon be priced in a world less dominated by the government sector. If, in 2009, PIMCO recommended shaking hands with the government, we now ponder “which” government, and caution that the days of carefree check writing leading to debt issuance without limit or interest rate consequences may be numbered for all countries….
“Here’s the problem that the U.S. Fed’s “exit” poses in simple English: Our fiscal 2009 deficit totaled nearly 12% of GDP and required over $1.5 trillion of new debt to finance it. The Chinese bought a little ($100 billion) of that, other sovereign wealth funds bought some more, but as shown in Chart 2, foreign investors as a group bought only 20% of the total – perhaps $300 billion or so. The balance over the past 12 months was substantially purchased by the Federal Reserve. Of course they purchased more 30-year Agency mortgages than Treasuries, but PIMCO and others sold them those mortgages and bought – you guessed it – Treasuries with the proceeds. The conclusion of this fairytale is that the government got to run up a 1.5 trillion dollar deficit, didn’t have to sell much of it to private investors, and lived happily ever – ever – well, not ever after, but certainly in 2009. Now, however, the Fed tells us that they’re “fed up,” or that they think the economy is strong enough for them to gracefully “exit,” or that they’re confident that private investors are capable of absorbing the balance. Not likely.”
…so what do you do
“if exit strategies proceed as planned, all U.S. and U.K. asset markets may suffer from the absence of the near $2 trillion of government checks written in 2009. It seems no coincidence that stocks, high yield bonds, and other risk assets have thrived since early March, just as this “juice” was being squeezed into financial markets. If so, then most “carry” trades in credit, duration, and currency space may be at risk in the first half of 2010 as the markets readjust to the absence of their “sugar daddy.” There’s no tellin’ where the money went? Not exactly, but it’s left a suspicious trail. Market returns may not be “so fine” in 2010.

The Financial Inquiry and more…..

The reason I do not have a lengthy post about my thoughts around the financial hearings this past week is because I read this piece, “The man who names the future,” in the FT which sent me running home to write an OPED that I am praying will get placed in a major business publication!! ( major time ) It is the most important thing I have ever written and I cannot wait to share it with you all.

This will have to do – The Hearings. I have a lot of mixed feelings about what is going on. I do think that the largest financial institutions contributed greatly to the financial crisis and should be held accountable. The ‘masters of the universe’ are not often but in the hot seat, and I hope that the experience will lead to greater humility both personally and organizationally. As for the levy what strikes me as unfair is that this is a tax on the banking system and not the shadow banking system, which also played a big role in the crisis. Further what about Fannie and Freddie? Why isn’t anyone talking about them right now??? Why no appearances before a commission? Oh, perhaps because Barney Frank cannot appear before himself. The losses there will be in the hundreds of billions and where is that inquiry? The public deserves to know the details of how ‘making home ownership affordable for Americans’ contributed greatly to this crisis as well. I think the President’s attacks, the language he chooses, is just not right. (see article below) Many have written that he has been all talk and no action as it relates to reigning in Wall Street. I personally would like to see respectful talk and appropriate action. It is clear that bonuses will shrink as a result of the outrage, but there are consequences. You can bet the NYC and NY State budgets are taking a direct blow, not to mention real estate, retail… well I could go on. Generally speaking those who make a lot of money spend a lot of money and redistributing those dollars to federal government coffers while nice in theory, has economic consequences. I still love my ‘virtue fund’ idea but i guess that piece did not get to GS or Washington. Darn. And what about those folks making out like bandits in the shadow banking system? Many took advantage of cheap government funding in one form or another to buy assets and have made huge returns. Sure they will pay taxes, increasing taxes, but no one is telling them what to pay their employees. I am not saying they should, I am just saying it is not exactly fair. That seems to be the theme of my entries this week… Life is not fair.

some links….
NYT- Few Burns for Four Bankers on the Hot Seat 1/14
other notables
PIMCO – Bill Gross’s latest commentary – Let’s Get Fisical