Showing posts from January, 2012

Canada’s Subprime Crisis?

Andrew Mayeda of Bloomberg reports, Canada’s Subprime Crisis Seen With U.S.-Styled Loans : Canadian lenders are loosening standards, offering mortgages similar to U.S. subprime loans that pose an “emerging risk” to financial institutions, according to the country’s banking regulator. Banks and other lenders are becoming “increasingly liberal” with mortgages and home-equity credit lines that don’t require individuals to prove their income , according to 152 pages of documents obtained by Bloomberg News under freedom of information law from the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions . The mortgages, typically granted to the self-employed and recent immigrants, “have some similarities to non-prime loans in the U.S. retail lending market,” the documents show. “It just speaks to the general easing in lending standards, which has contributed to a booming housing market,” said David Madani, an economist in Toronto with Capital Economics , which estimates that Canadian hous

Record High Pension Assets Hit by Liabilities?

Towers Watson just came out with a report, Global pension fund assets hit record high in 2011 : Global institutional pension fund assets in the 13 major markets grew by 4% during 2011 to reach a new high of US$28 trillion, up from US$26 trillion in 2010 according to Towers Watson’s Global Pension Assets Study released today. The growth is the continuation of a trend which started in 2009 when assets grew 17%, and in sharp contrast to a 21% fall during 2008 which took assets back to 2006 levels. Global pension fund assets have now grown at over 6% on average per annum (in USD) since 2001, when they were valued at US$15 trillion. The study reveals that, despite the growth in assets, pension fund balance sheets 1 weakened globally during 2011, with the ratio of global assets to liabilities well down from its peak achieved in 1999. According to the study, pension assets now amount to 72% of global GDP, which while lower than in 2010 (76%) is substantially higher than the 61%

Greek-German Wrangling Just Pointless Fury?

James G. Neuger and Jonathan Stearns of Bloomberg report, EU Nears Confrontation Over Greek Rescue : European governments moved toward a confrontation over a second rescue package for Greece, just as a dimming fiscal outlook in Portugal opened a new front in the debt crisis. Euro leaders left a Brussels summit late yesterday with no accord over how to plug Greece’s widening budget hole and German Chancellor Angela Merkel voicing frustration with the Athens government’s failure to carry out an economic makeover. “Greece’s debt sustainability is especially bad,” Merkel told reporters. “You have to find a way through more action by the Greek government, more contributions by private creditors, for example, in order to close this gap.” Bargaining with Greece over a debt writedown and its economic management overshadowed efforts to point the way out of the financial crisis. EU chiefs agreed to speed the setup of a full-time 500 billion-euro ($654 billion) rescue fund and signed off on a

"Eaten Alive" by Hedge Fund Fees?

A follow-up to my earlier comment on Bain or blessing discussing private equity. This time I'll focus on hedge funds. David Mildenberg of Bloomberg reports, Texas School Fund Weighs In-House Managers to Curb Fees : Texas's Permanent School Fund may hire in-house money managers to oversee its $25 billion in assets because returns are being “eaten alive” by hedge-fund fees, according to Chief Investment Officer Holland Timmins. Returns were less than 1 percent for the 44 months through November on assets managed by the five companies that bundle multiple hedge funds into single investment vehicles, Timmins said Jan. 25 at a State Education Board meeting. After fees, the return was negative, he said. “The sector that should have enhanced our funding for schools actually detracted from it,” Timmins said. “We had a positive return in the asset class, modestly, but it got eaten alive by the fees.” Hedge-fund expenses have reached about $72.7 million since 2008 , according to a d

Future of Pension Profits: Bain or Blessing?

The Economist reports, Bain or blessing? : If Steve Scharzman thought it was valid in 2010 to compare Barack Obama’s “war” against business to Hitler’s invasion of Poland, what can he be thinking now? Private-equity executives must be hoping the boss of Blackstone will keep his opinions to himself. More bad publicity is the last thing the industry needs. Other Republican presidential candidates are competing to see who can say the most damning thing about Mitt Romney’s career at Bain Capital. Newt Gingrich’s supporters have even made a sort of horror movie about what happens when private-equity firms like Bain Capital get their hands on otherwise healthy companies. The buy-out bit of the industry, which buys mature companies, fixes them up and sells them on, is the one on trial (few have a bad word for venture capital, which invests in start-ups). It is charged with destroying the jobs of ordinary people while enriching the likes of Mr Romney. But private equity isn’t empl