Sunday, September 14, 2008

Banks and Brokers Most Likely to Fail - The Big Players

The 'Helicopter Economics Investing Guide' is meant to help educate people on how to make profitable investing choices in the current economic environment. In addition to the term helicopter economics, we have also coined the term, helicopternomics, to describe the current monetary and fiscal policies of the U.S. government and to update the old-fashioned term wheelbarrow economics.

Our video for this posting can be found at:

Other videos on this topic:

At our September 8th meeting, the New York Investing meetup presented a talk on the 'Banks and Brokers Most Likely to Fail'. This was a follow up to material that was already presented in our April meeting 9th meeting talk, 'The Dirtiest Dozen Financial Companies' (the notes for both of these talks were posted on our web site at: Putting together all the criteria that should be considered in determining whether or not a bank of broker could be insolvent or heading in that direction the following list of large banks or brokers resulted (how much their stock was down from the high is the figure next to their name):

Washington Mutual -down 93%
Lehman - down 91%
Wachovia - down 87%
Merrill Lynch - down 78%
Citibank - down 75%
UBS - down 73%
Royal Bank of Scotland - down 73%
Keycorp - down 82%

With the exception of Wachovia, the Royal Bank of Scotland and Keycorp, these companies had already appeared on our April list.

Washington Mutual and Lehman were obviously both in desperate shape and jocking for the number one position of who would be gone first. Washington Mutual had the highest one-year CD rates in the U.S and the willingness to pay a lot more for funds than its rivals indicated how urgently it needed funds. It could also not raise capital because it had sold stock at $8.75 a share with an agreement to reimburse the buyer for the price difference if it sold stock again at a lower price. It's price had fallen so low (it's price dipped to $1.75 a share the day of our meeting) that if it sold new stock, it would have to pay more to this purchaser per share than it would from the sale. Lehman on the other hand, had been in serious trouble since March and would have gone under right after Bear Stearns failure except for Federal Reserve cash infusions into the company from the newly established PDCF (Primary Dealer Credit Facility). It had just released its earnings and had lost $5.62 a share in the third quarter versus $5.19 a share in the second quarter. Its stock was falling rapidly and would close at $3.65 on Friday.

Lehman had been trying to sell some of its operation or part of the company for the previous several weeks. The Korean Development bank finally withdrew from negotiations claiming they were asking too much. Lehman had deteriorated so much that an emergency meeting was held at the New York Fed's office starting Friday evening and going into Sunday. The Treasury secretary and all of Wall Street's movers and shakers were there. Even then, nothing could be worked out for Lehman. For the first time, the Treasury refused to offer government guarantees. This should not be interpreted as the Fed and Treasury finally realizing the danger of Moral Hazard, or that no one voted for the U.S. becoming a socialist state, but rather that they themselves are out of funding sources.

Without a government rescue, Lehman was forced to declare bankruptcy Monday morning. Ironically, Bank of America agreed to buy Merrill Lynch as a result of the emergency meeting (both were there), apparently with some prodding from government officials. Elsewhere, insurance giant AIG requested access to the Fed's lending facilities, in order to stave off its own impending bankruptcy.

NEXT: Lehman, Merrill Lynch, and AIG - the Morning After

Daryl Montgomery
Organizer, New York Investing meetup

This posting is editorial opinion. Like all other postings for this blog, there is no intention to endorse the purchase or sale of any security.

NEXT: The Banks and Brokers Most Likely to Fail

Daryl Montgomery
Organizer, New York Investing meetup

This posting is editorial opinion. Like all other postings for this blog, there is no intention to endorse the purchase or sale of any security.

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