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UNOFFICIAL Troubled Bank List
Last updated: 08/29/2008
CNBC’s Steve Liesman on "Unique insights on the credit crisis and the future of the banking system from a stream in Maine…"
A bonus Friday afternoon guest post via Macro Man
– a portfolio manager at a London-based hedge fund, he trades global
currencies, equities, fixed income, and commodities. Over a long and
varied career, Macro Man has been an international economist, a
sell-side currency strategist, and a currency options market-maker.
His amusing Friday afternoon topic? Market Monopoly!
With the Olympics and the summer drawing to a close, it’s now time for market participants to get themselves back from the beach, turn off the TV, and focus on making money for the four-and-bit months that remain of 2008. Yet the Olympic spirit lives on, and many of us would love to channel our inner Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps.
Indeed, over the course of his career Macro Man has met many market people who are just as competitive as Bolt, Phelps, or Tiger Woods, for that matter. Sadly, while the mind is willing, the flesh is all too often weak (in this case, literally.) How, then, can desk-driving market people bring out the Olympian that lurks within us all and keep the competitive fires burning?
Macro Man has hit upon the answer: Monopoly. The game requires no discernible athletic ability and is predicated upon acquiring assets as cheaply as possible, levering them up, and separating other players from their cash. It’s a skill set with which many (but by no means all) market punters are well-acquainted.
Of course, in Monopoly, as in life, chance can play a significant role in determining winners and losers. In real life, these slings and arrows of outrageous fortune can come from anywhere, but in Monopoly they derive from the dice and the Chance/Community Chest cards. Come to think of it, it looks like the game of Market Monopoly has already started, because some of the cards have already been drawn. Consider who’s already holding the following (vintage) Monopoly cards:
ADIA, CIC, and Temasek holdings. These SWFs already own very significant stakes in a number of banks in the US and Europe, in many cases via high-yielding preferred shares. Though it may be a case of thrice bitten, four times shy, Macro Man can’t help but think that at the end of the dilutive capital-raising process, these guys will be the only ones left with enough equity to get paid any meaningful dividend income.
Holders of 2007 vintage AA-rated ABX. Unfortunately, to collect the prize, they have to tender $100 of face. (Since this vintage card was printed, prices have fallen further. In the modern editions of Monopoly, second prize winners only get $10.)
John Thain. Mr. Thain’s tenure at the helm of Merrill Lynch has been characterized by three things: large write-downs, a fire sale of assets to clean up the balance sheet, and Merrill itself providing the funding to the buyers in the aforementioned fire sale. Alternatively, this card could represent Merrill’s settlement of its part of the auction rate securities fiasco.