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SPECIAL INSPECTOR GENERAL TROUBLED ASSET RELIEF PROGRAM 2009/07/20

Filed under: U.S macro economy — rogerwang2046 @ 20:15

FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY UNTIL RELEASED BY THE

HOUSE COMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM

STATEMENT OF NEIL BAROFSKY

SPECIAL INSPECTOR GENERAL
TROUBLED ASSET RELIEF PROGRAM

BEFORE THE
HOUSE COMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM

July 21, 2009

Chairman Towns, Ranking Member Issa and Members of the Committee, I am honored to appear before you today to deliver to this Committee my quarterly report to Congress.

In the nine months since the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (“EESA”) authorized creation of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (“TARP”), the U.S. Department of the Treasury (“Treasury”) has created 12 separate programs involving Government and private funds of up to almost $3 trillion. From programs involving large capital infusions into hundreds of banks and other financial institutions, to a mortgage modification program designed to modify millions of mortgages, to public-private partnerships using tens of billions of taxpayer dollars to purchase “toxic” assets from banks, TARP has evolved into a program of unprecedented scope, scale, and complexity. Moreover, TARP does not function in a vacuum but is rather part of the broader Government efforts to stabilize the financial system, an effort that includes dozens of inter-related programs operated by multiple Federal agencies. Thus, before the American people and their representatives in Congress can meaningfully evaluate the effectiveness of TARP, not only must the TARP programs themselves be understood, but also TARP’s scope and scale must be placed into proper context with the other Government programs designed to support the financial system.

TARP IN FOCUS, AND IN CONTEXT

TARP, as originally envisioned in the fall of 2008, would have involved the purchase, management, and sale of up to $700 billion of “toxic” assets, primarily troubled mortgages and mortgage-backed securities (“MBS”). That framework was soon shelved, however, and TARP funds are being used, or have been announced to be used, in connection with 12 separate programs that, as set forth in Table 1 below, involve a total (including TARP funds, loans and guarantees from other agencies, and private money) that could reach nearly $3 trillion. Through June 30, 2009, Treasury has announced the parameters of how $643.1 billion of the $700 billion would be spent through the 12 programs. Of the $643.1 billion that Treasury has committed, $441 billion has actually been spent.

As massive and as important as TARP is on its own, it is just one part of a much broader Federal Government effort to stabilize and support the financial system. Since the onset of the financial crisis in 2007, the Federal Government, through many agencies, has implemented dozens of programs that are broadly designed to support the economy and financial system. The total potential Federal Government support could reach up to $23.7 trillion. Any assessment of the effectiveness or the cost of TARP should be made in the context of these broader efforts.

Total Potential funds subject to sigtarp oversight, As of 6/30/2009 ($ Billions)

Program

Brief Description or Participant

Total Projected
Funding at Risk ($)

Projected TARP
Funding ($)

Capital Purchase Program (“CPP”) Investments in 649 banks to date; 8 institutions total $134 billion; received $70.1 billion in capital repayments

$218.0

($70.1)

$218.0

($70.1)

Automotive Industry Financing Program (“AIFP”) GM, Chrysler, GMAC, Chrysler Financial; received $130.8 million in loan repayments (Chrysler Financial)

79.3

79.3

Auto Supplier Support Program (“ASSP”) Government-backed protection for auto parts suppliers

5.0

5.0

Auto Warranty Commitment Program (“AWCP”) Government-backed protection for warranties of cars sold during the GM and Chrysler bankruptcy restructuring periods

0.6

0.6

Unlocking Credit for Small Businesses (“UCSB”) Purchase of securities backed by SBA loans

15.0

15.0

Systemically Significant Failing Institutions (“SSFI”) AIG investment

69.8

69.8

Targeted Investment Program (“TIP”) Citigroup, Bank of America investments

40.0

40.0

Asset Guarantee Program (“AGP”) Citigroup, ring-fence asset guarantee

301.0

5.0

Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (“TALF”) FRBNY non-recourse loans for purchase of asset-backed securities

1,000.0

80.0

Making Home Affordable (“MHA”) Program Modification of mortgage loans

75.0

50.0

Public-Private Investment Program (“PPIP”) Disposition of legacy assets; Legacy Loans Program, Legacy Securities Program
(expansion of TALF)

500.0 – 1,000.0

75.0

Capital Assistance Program (“CAP”) Capital to qualified financial institutions; includes stress test

TBD

TBD

New Programs, or Funds Remaining for Existing Programs Potential additional funding related to CAP; other programs

131.4

131.4

Total

$2,365.0 – $2,865.0

$699.0

Note: See Table 2.1 in Section 2 for notes and sources related to the information contained in this table.

OVERSIGHT ACTIVITIES OF SIGTARP

Since its April Quarterly Report, SIGTARP has been actively engaged in fulfilling its vital investigative and audit functions as well as in building its staff and organization.

SIGTARP’s Investigations Division has developed rapidly and is quickly becoming a sophisticated white-collar investigative agency. Through June 30, 2009, SIGTARP has 35 ongoing criminal and civil investigations. These investigations include complex issues concerning suspected accounting fraud, securities fraud, insider trading, mortgage servicer misconduct, mortgage fraud, public corruption, false statements, and tax investigations. Two of SIGTARP’s investigations have recently become public:

  • Federal Felony Charges Against Gordon Grigg: On April 23, 2009, Federal felony charges were filed against Gordon B. Grigg in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, charging him with four counts of mail fraud and four counts of wire fraud. The charges are based on Grigg’s role in embezzling approximately $11 million in client investment funds that he garnered through false claims, including that he had invested $5 million in pooled client funds toward the purchase of the TARP-guaranteed debt. Grigg pleaded guilty to all charges and is scheduled for sentencing on August 6, 2009.
  • FTC Action Against Misleading Use of “MakingHomeAffordable.gov”: On May 15, 2009, based upon an action brought by the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”), a Federal district court issued an order to stop an Internet-based operation that pretended to operate “MakingHomeAffordable.gov,” the official website of the Federal Making Home Affordable program. According to the FTC’s complaint, the defendants purchased sponsored links as advertising on the results pages of Internet search engines, and, when consumers searched for “making home affordable” or similar search terms, the defendants’ ads prominently and conspicuously displayed “MakingHomeAffordable.gov.” Consumers who clicked on this link were not directed to the official website, but were diverted to sites that solicit applicants for paid loan modification services. The operators of these websites either purport to offer loan modification services themselves or sold the victims’ personally identifying information to others. SIGTARP is providing assistance to FTC during the investigation.

More than 50% of SIGTARP’s ongoing investigations were developed in whole or in part through tips or leads provided on SIGTARP’s Hotline (877-SIG-2009 or accessible at http://www.SIGTARP.gov). Over the past quarter, the SIGTARP Hotline received and analyzed more than 3,200 tips, running the gamut from expressions of concern over the economy to serious allegations of fraud.

SIGTARP remains committed to being proactive in dealing with potential fraud in TARP. For example, the previously announced TALF Task Force, which was organized by SIGTARP to get out in front of any efforts to profit criminally from the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (“TALF”), has been expanded to cover the Public-Private Investment Program (“PPIP”). In addition to SIGTARP, the TALF-PPIP Task Force consists of the Inspector General of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

On the audit side, SIGTARP is in the process of completing its first round of audits. SIGTARP issued yesterday its first formal audit report concerning how recipients of Capital Purchase Program (“CPP”) funds reported their use of such funds. In February 2009, SIGTARP sent survey letters to more than 360 financial and other institutions that had completed TARP funding agreements through January 2009. Although most banks reported they did not segregate or track TARP fund usage on a dollar-for-dollar basis, most banks were able to provide insights into their actual or planned future use of TARP funds. For some respondents the infusion of TARP funds helped to avoid a “managed” reduction of their activities; others reported that their lending activities would have come to a standstill without TARP funds; and others explained that they used TARP funds to acquire other institutions, invest in securities, pay off debts, or that they retained the funds to serve as a cushion against future losses. Many survey responses also highlighted the importance of the TARP funds to the bank’s capital base, and by extension, the impact of the funds on lending. In light of the audit findings, SIGTARP renews its recommendation that the Secretary of the Treasury require all TARP recipients to submit periodic reports to Treasury on their use of TARP funds.

SIGTARP also has audits nearing completion examining the following issues: executive compensation restriction compliance, controls over external influences on the CPP application process, selection of the first nine participants for funds under CPP (with a particular emphasis on Bank of America), AIG bonuses, and AIG counterparty payments. In addition, SIGTARP is undertaking a series of new audits, as follows:

  • CPP Warrant Valuation and Disposition Process: The audit will seek to determine (i) the extent to which financial institutions have repaid Treasury’s investment under CPP and the extent to which the warrants associated with that process were repurchased or sold; and (ii) what process and procedures Treasury has established to ensure the Government receives fair market value for the warrants and the extent to which Treasury follows a clear, consistent, and objective process in reaching decisions where differing valuations of warrants exist. This audit complements a July 10, 2009, report by the Congressional Oversight Panel examining the warrant valuation process.
  • Follow-up Assessment of Use of Funds by TARP Recipients: This audit will examine use of funds by recipients receiving extraordinary assistance under the Systemically Significant Failing Institutions program, the Automotive Industry Financing Program, as well as insurance companies receiving assistance under CPP.
  • Governance Issues Where U.S. Holds Large Ownership Interests: The audit, being conducted at the request of Senator Max Baucus, will examine governance issues when the U.S. Government has obtained a large ownership interest in a particular institution, including: (i) What is the extent of Government involvement in management of companies in which it has made sizeable investments, including direction and control over such elements as governance, compensation, spending, and other corporate decision making? (ii) To what extent are effective risk management, internal controls, and monitoring in place to protect and balance the Government’s interests and corporate needs? (iii) Are there performance measures in place that can be used to track progress against long-term goals and timeframes affecting the Government’s ability to wind down its investments and disengage from these companies? (iv) Is there adequate transparency to support decision making and to provide full disclosure to the Congress and the public?
  • Status of the Government’s Asset Guarantee Program with Citigroup: The audit examining the Government’s Asset Guarantee Program (“AGP”) with Citigroup, based upon a request by Representative Alan Grayson, will address a series of questions about the Government’s guarantee of certain Citigroup assets through the AGP such as: (i) How was the program for Citigroup developed? (ii) What are the current cash flows from the affected assets? and (iii) What are the potential for losses to Treasury, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the Federal Reserve under the program?
  • Making Home Affordable Mortgage Modification Program: This audit will examine the Making Home Affordable mortgage modification program to assess the status of the program, the effectiveness of outreach efforts, capabilities of loan servicers to provide services to eligible recipients, and challenges confronting the program as it goes forward.

SIGTARP’S RECOMMENDATIONS ON THE OPERATION OF TARP

One of SIGTARP’s oversight responsibilities is to provide recommendations to Treasury so that TARP programs can be designed or modified to facilitate effective oversight and transparency and to prevent fraud, waste, and abuse. SIGTARP details ongoing recommendations concerning PPIP, TALF, and tracking use of funds and provides an update on the implementation of recommendations made in previous reports. Two categories of recommendations are worth highlighting in particular:

Transparency in TARP Programs

Although Treasury has taken some steps towards improving transparency in TARP programs, it has repeatedly failed to adopt recommendations that SIGTARP believes are essential to providing basic transparency and fulfill Treasury’s stated commitment to implement TARP “with the highest degree of accountability and transparency possible.” With one new recommendation made in this report, there are at least four such unadopted recommendations:

  • Use of Funds Generally: One of SIGTARP’s first recommendations was that Treasury require all TARP recipients to report on the actual use of TARP funds. Other than in a few agreements (with Citigroup, Bank of America, and AIG), Treasury has declined to adopt this recommendation, calling any such reporting “meaningless” in light of the inherent fungibility of money. SIGTARP continues to believe that banks can provide meaningful information about what they are doing with TARP funds — in particular what activities they would not have been able to do but for the infusion of TARP funds. That belief has been supported by SIGTARP’s first audit, in which nearly all banks were able to provide such information.
  • Valuation of the TARP Portfolio: SIGTARP has recommended that Treasury begin reporting on the values of its TARP portfolio so that taxpayers can get regular updates on the financial performance of their TARP investments. Notwithstanding that Treasury has now retained asset managers and is receiving such valuation data on a monthly basis, Treasury has not committed to providing such information except on the statutorily required annual basis.
  • Disclosure of TALF Borrowers Upon Surrender of Collateral: In TALF, the loans are non-recourse, that is, the lender (Federal Reserve Bank of New York) will have no recourse against the borrower beyond taking possession of the posted collateral (consisting of asset-backed securities (“ABS”)). Under the program, should such a collateral surrender occur, TARP funds will be used to purchase the surrendered collateral. In light of this use of TARP funds, SIGTARP has recommended that Treasury and the Federal Reserve disclose the identity of any TALF borrowers that fail to repay the TALF loan and must surrender the ABS collateral.
  • Regular Disclosure of PPIF Activity, Holdings, and Valuation: In the PPIP Legacy Securities Program, the taxpayer will be providing a substantial portion of the funds (contributing both equity and lending) that will be used to purchase toxic assets in the Public-Private Investment Funds (“PPIFs”). SIGTARP is recommending that all trading activity, holdings, and valuations of assets of the PPIFs be disclosed on a timely basis. Not only should this disclosure be required as a matter of basic transparency in light of the billions of taxpayer dollars at stake, but such disclosure would also serve well one of Treasury’s stated reasons for the program in the first instance: the promotion of “price discovery” in the illiquid market for MBS. Treasury has indicated that it will not require such disclosure.

Although SIGTARP understands Treasury’s need to balance the public’s transparency interests, on one hand, with the interests of the participants and the desire to have wide participation in the programs, on the other, Treasury’s default position should always be to require more disclosure rather than less and to provide the investors in TARP — the American taxpayers — as much information about what is being done with their money as possible. Unfortunately, in rejecting SIGTARP’s basic transparency recommendations, TARP has become a program in which taxpayers (i) are not being told what most of the TARP recipients are doing with their money, (ii) have still not been told how much their substantial investments are worth, and (iii) will not be told the full details of how their money is being invested. In SIGTARP’s view, the very credibility of TARP (and thus in large measure its chance of success) depends on whether Treasury will commit, indeed as in word, to operate TARP with the highest degree of transparency possible.

Imposition of Information Barriers, or “Walls,” in PPIP

In the April Quarterly Report, SIGTARP noted that conflicts of interest and collusion vulnerabilities were inherent in the design of PPIP stemming from the fact that the PPIF managers will have significant power to set prices in a largely illiquid market. These vulnerabilities could result in PPIF managers having an incentive to overpay significantly for assets or otherwise using the valuable, proprietary PPIF trading information to benefit not the PPIF, but rather the manager’s non-PPIF business interests. As a result, SIGTARP made a series of recommendations in the April Quarterly Report, including that Treasury should impose strict conflicts of interest rules.

Since the April Quarterly Report, Treasury has worked with SIGTARP to address the vulnerabilities in PPIP, and SIGTARP made a series of specific recommendations, suggestions, and comments concerning the design of the program. Treasury adopted many of SIGTARP’s suggestions and has developed numerous provisions that make PPIP far better from a compliance and anti-fraud standpoint than when the program was initially announced.

However, Treasury has declined to adopt one of SIGTARP’s most fundamental recommendations — that Treasury should require imposition of an informational barrier or “wall” between the PPIF fund managers making investment decisions on behalf of the PPIF and those employees of the fund management company who manage non-PPIF funds. Treasury has decided not to impose such a wall in this instance, despite the fact that such walls have been imposed upon asset managers in similar contexts in other Government bailout-related programs, including by Treasury itself in other TARP-related activities, and despite the fact that three of the nine PPIF managers already must abide by similar walls in their work for those other programs.

If nothing else, the reputational risk that Treasury and the program could face if a PPIF manager should generate massive profits in its non-PPIF funds as a result of an unfair advantage, even if that advantage is not strictly against the rules, justifies the imposition of a wall. Failure to impose a wall, on the other hand, will leave Treasury vulnerable to an accusation that has already been leveled against it — that Treasury is using TARP to pick winners and losers and that, by granting certain firms the PPIF manager status, it is benefitting a chosen few at the expense of the dozens of firms that were rejected, of the market as a whole, and of the American taxpayer. This reputational risk is not one that can be readily measured in dollars and cents, but is rather a risk that could put in jeopardy the fragile trust the American people have in TARP and, by extension, their Government.

In addition to these recommendations, SIGTARP also makes additional recommendations, concerning other aspects of PPIP and concerning the use of ratings agencies in TALF.

Chairman Towns, Ranking Member Issa and Members of the Committee, I want to thank you again for this opportunity to appear before you, and I would be pleased to respond to any questions that you may have.

 

推动网易狂涨60倍的神秘金手指-2003 report 2009/05/23

市场也许就是这样奇妙。

  一年以前,大家都还在讨论新浪(SINA.NASDAQ),搜狐(SOHU.NASDAQ),以及网易(NTES.NASDAQ)是否因为会因为股价太低,而被美国证监会取消上市资格,“扫地出门”。

  如今,三大中文门户网站一改往日“颓废”,历经数年连续亏损,目前中国互联网三大门户网站在相继实现盈利之后,终于激情燃烧了一把。其股价一路飙升,成为NASDAQ炫目的三颗明星。

  在明星的身后,NASDAP出现了三只神秘的手掌Driehaus、ALKEON、DRESDNER RCM。

  Driehaus守得云开月明

  在中国三大门户一路猛涨,国内投资者普遍质疑这纯属投机炒作,认为三大门户股市行情已经脱离Nasdaq市场本身,其背后疑有主力操作。

  武汉证券分析师余凯则旗帜鲜明地认为,其背后有人炒作的可能性很大。他认为,在纳斯达克,目前网络科技股放量走强,eBay、yahoo都有良好表现,整个纳斯达克已回升了三到四成。

  余凯指出,经济持续高速增长的中国、三大门户概念股扭亏转盈,正好应时而生,自然会受到追捧。但也值得注意的是,这几只股票都属于小盘股,投机比较容易,只要有几千万美金就可以把股价“炒飞起来”。再加上网站宣布扭亏为盈,有题材可以发挥,股价随着公司方面频频利好而节节盘升。

  搜狐、新浪和网易2002年前三个季度成交量都非常低,无论是股价还是成交量大幅度的提升是从2002年第四季度开始的。三家网络公司上市至今,一直较少主承销商后续的研究和分析推介。事实上,目前大多数投资银行都还没有为这几家网络公司设立专门的分析员。

  根据NASDAP资料显示,Driehaus公司在中国三大门户网站的机构持股人中都名列第一,在2003年3月31日分别掌控网易、搜狐和新浪4.41%、4.33%和 4.41%。

  Driehaus公司何方神圣,它是炒作三大门户的主力吗?该公司总部注册于芝加哥,持仓总市值是17.8亿。专门为机构客户、高净值个人和共同基金投资者提供投资管理服务。但按照EdgerOnline的资料,截至2003年3月31日,该基金拥有的网易股票升值了66%,但新浪和搜狐仍然亏损了26.42%和16.39%,据此推测,该基金应当是在NASDAP上一轮网络高潮时建仓,不幸被套,终于可以在2003年第一季度等到解套机会,也算是守得云开见月明吧,从3月31日到现在,该机构持有的股票又都有翻倍的回报。

  从网易、搜狐、新浪的机构增仓表(从2002年12月31日到2003年3月31日)上,也可以看出,这三个月,Driehaus公司增持比例有限分别增长了63.66%、16.39%、26.42%。

  真正杀将出来的黑马很多。在2003年3月31日的十大机构投资人中,有7家是此前完全无一股股票的新手,来势凶猛,而且配合默契。而搜狐就更加生猛,增持比例超过1000%和全新投资人达到8家,新浪也有7家。

  在这些新鲜出笼的机构投资者中,不乏大机构如DRESDNER RCM,分别持有网易、搜狐、新浪市值别为565.7万(第9)、1073.6万(第3)、610.9万(第8)美元,而其兄弟公司DRESDNERBANK也持有搜狐1073.6万美元(第4)、网易565.7万美元(第10)。它显然是搜狐狂涨的主力。此外,LEGGMASON公司、VEREDUS都是持仓数百亿美元的大机构,比较起来,三大门户网站在其中的比重就太小了,大机构只是略微关注中国概念。

  神秘ALKEON引领爆发

  最为引人注目的是一家小机构,同时抢进为搜狐第二与网易第三机构投资人的一家叫作ALKEON资本管理的公司:注册于美国纽约曼哈顿大厦350号,截至2003年3月底,仓位总市值6.06亿美元。为网易第四大机构投资人,持股市值1216万美元,是搜狐的第二大持有机构,持股市值1085.6万美元,新浪第9大股东,持有市值478万美元,有趣的是,其持有这三支股票的数量与这三支股票的股价成正比,可以将之看成此轮炒作的领导指标机构。该资本管理公司重仓于IT类企业,仓位比例51.2%,其他行业涉猎平均。

  在新浪新投资者构中排位最高(总排位第4)是VEREDUS资产管理公司:注册于美国路易丝韦尔,仓位总市值12.26亿美元。该资产管理公司业务注重金融领域的拓展,其仓位中金融衍生产品比重为28.6%,服务类23.1%,IT类11.9%,金融类10.3%。整体操作风格比较迅猛,仓位集中,为一家中小型侧重金融衍生工具的机构。

  “这证明了中国资本界对此轮操作者的基本判断:这些介入的基金公司大多是比较冒进的基金,属快进快出的那一种。因此美国投机型的基金和机构在操作网易、搜狐和新浪方面是主力,而小型机构是否与国内资金乃至与三大门户网站有默契就不得而知了。”一位资深分析员说。

  而更有消息渠道证实,一些来自中国内地的庄家也积极参与了网易的炒作。甚至有坊间笑谈–逃往国外的庄家吕梁纠集一伙资金组织了这次三大门户的炒作。

  香港国泰君安一位高层人士透露,来自北京的先知先觉的机构是这次炒作的主流资金,因为近水楼台的关系,北京机构是最早知道三大门户网站扭亏为盈,也是这波行情中最早介入的资金。来自浙江和深圳方面的资金则是短线跟风盘。

  但对于网易后面是否有人在炒作,丁磊不置可否。从223年5月21到6月11日,丁磊控制的SHINING GLOBEINTL通过高盛减持了88万股网易的股票。

  郎咸平:不排除炒作可能

  “不能排除有资金在炒作这三支股票的可能性。”以“郎监管”闻名的香港中文大学教授郎咸平这样指出。

  不过,郎咸平认为:仅从这三支股票的图形上来说,目前也无法确认有“庄家”正在进行炒作这一说,因为假设性还太强。如果这三个中国门户网络股票的价格涨幅远远超过了美国同类高科技股票的价格涨幅,或是盈利居中,但市盈率远高于市场水平,才有可能被怀疑市场上有人为炒作的因素在里面。

  “也赚到钱的小股东不会进行投诉。”郎咸平进一步指出:在这种的单边上涨中,一直在稳定的上升,股价没有大幅度的波动,最多只能算作是有市场投机力量进入。如果有基金大笔买进,也可解释为对中国概念的网络股“情有独钟”,属于正常的投资行为,美国的证券监管当局也不会有太大的举动。

  “通过单边上涨这样的方式操纵股价,美国证监会最终是以‘私下和解’的形式解决。”不管是用什么方法获得赢利,如果股价稳步上升,或是稳定下降,都不会引发监管当局的注意力。但是,一旦股价崩盘,有大幅下跌的情况,大笔抛售股票的机构一定会受到美国证监会的关注,要求做出合理解释。通过这种方法,以防止不正常的市场炒作行为。

  投机泡沫VS.价值回归

  围绕三大网络股的定价合理与否的问题,华尔街已经展开了激烈的争论。

  著名的BARRON’S杂志首先发难,严重质疑三大网络股的股价。BARRON文章中指出,尽管三大网络股成功的幸存下来,并成为了各自领域的第一门户。但它们的定价过于昂贵。

  如果按照2003年的预测EPS计算,在互联网行业以外的其他行业中,一些顶尖的高成长公司,像AMGEN、是巴克咖啡等,也仅有30~37倍的市盈率。而科技行业的领先公司–微软、INTEL、CISCO,仅有20~30倍的市盈率。

  同时,BARRON’S还进一步置疑互联网的增长潜力,认为传统大公司进入网络电子商务的竞争压力、即将实施的对网上交易征税的政策,都将大大影响三大网络巨头的增K潜力。

  不过,华尔街追棒网络股人士则对BARRON’S 的观点大加反驳,THE STHEET.COM就发表了一篇文章,逐条批驳了BARRON’S的观点。

  “这应该算是一种价值回归吧。虽然涨了很多倍,但是按每股收益计算,这三个门广网络股的动态市盈率并不算太高。”国泰君安证券公司的行业公司部副经理邵健如是说。

  对于所谓的三大中国网络股股价异常,邵健则不以为然。邵以动态市盈率为例举证,2003年eBay、YAHOO的动态市盈率分别为70~75倍、100倍左右;而网易、搜狐和新浪的动态市盈率则分别为35倍、60~70倍、55倍。

  “与国外网站相比,我们市盈率并不高,而且还有更大升值空间。”邵说,言词之中略有喜悦之情。

  在记者追问下,邵承认,在低价位时(约l美元左右)他曾购下新浪及搜狐的股票,为此获利不少。

 

What Social Security’s Underfunding Means for Your Retirement 2009/05/14

by Emily Brandon
Thursday, May 14, 2009
provided by

Social Security and Medicare’s annual checkup revealed that the recession and longer life expectancies are taxing the health of the entitlement system. The Social Security Board of Trustees report found that program costs will exceed tax revenues in 2016, a year sooner than predicted in last year’s report. The trust fund will be exhausted in 2037, four years sooner than the 2008 estimate. Here’s a look at how the projections could affect your retirement plans.

 Smooth sailing for the baby boomers. In 2037, the year the trust fund is currently projected to be depleted, the youngest baby boomers, currently age 45, will be 73. It’s highly unlikely that baby boomers will face a rise in the retirement age or cuts in benefits. “The good news for current beneficiaries and those nearing retirement is that your benefits will remain secure and intact for the foreseeable future,” says Nancy LeaMond, executive vice president of AARP, a lobbying group for older Americans.

Changes for younger people. Social Security and Medicare will still be around for younger generations. But there is some uncertainty about whether there will be tax increases, benefit cuts, some combination of the two, or other fixes to correct the underfunding. “You can sort of count on the fact that if there are any changes in benefits they will be in a downward direction, and then individuals like us will have to provide more of our own income through our own personal savings and our employer-provided plans,” says Bruce Schobel, president-elect of the American Academy of Actuaries. “I think it’s a very safe bet that in the process of restoring financial soundness, the government is very unlikely to expand the benefits.”

Making up the difference. Social Security currently replaces about 41 percent of preretirement income for most Americans when they retire. Americans without traditional pensions who want to maintain their standard of living after retirement need to save whatever amount they need above that on their own. We don’t know exactly how the government will recalibrate the retirement system to fix the shortfall, so younger Americans can’t calculate precisely what their retirement benefits will be. But it can’t hurt to save or invest a little extra cash in case benefit amounts decrease.

Longer life expectancy. In addition to the recession, Americans’ increasing life expectancy is contributing to the depletion of the Social Security trust fund. “Americans are living slightly longer than we’d previously assumed,” says Andrew Biggs, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a former deputy commissioner of the Social Security Administration. “Increased longevity means more people collecting benefits for longer, which is a recipe for larger deficits.” Americans now generally live 17 to 19 years after age 65, up from 12 to 13 years in 1940. The Obama administration has said it does not have plans to raise the retirement age and instead favors plans to raise Social Security payroll taxes for those making over $250,000 a year by 2 to 4 percent (combined employer and employee), but a future administration could. Younger workers may want to plan to work a few years past their current full retirement age, 67, for their own financial security. Working just an extra year or two is one of the quickest ways to pad your retirement accounts and reduce the number of years over which your savings must be spread. Plus, under current law, Social Security payouts increase for each year you delay signing up between age 62 and 70.

Making Medicare healthy. Medicare’s funding ailments are expected to occur even sooner than Social Security’s. Projected annual assets for the hospital insurance portion of Medicare are expected to exceed expenditures by 2012. The hospital insurance trust fund is expected to be exhausted by 2017, two years earlier than projected in last year’s report. Medicare Part B, which covers doctors’ bills and other outpatient expenses, and Part D prescription drug coverage are more adequately financed in the short term, but increases in healthcare costs over the long term will average 6.4 percent annually and require increases in enrollee premiums and general revenue funding.

Most current retirees will not be subject to large premium increases in the short term because of a law that limits premium increases to the dollar amount of the annual increase in Social Security benefits. A Congressional Budget Office report predicts that there will be no cost-of-living increases for Social Security beneficiaries in 2010 through 2012, which also means no Medicare Part B premium hike for the majority of beneficiaries. But new enrollees and current beneficiaries with incomes above $85,000 this year ($170,000 for couples),who make up approximately one quarter of Part B enrollees, could be charged unusually large premium increases over the next two years. Premiums for Medicare Part B and D and the prices for out-of-pocket medical expenses not covered by Medicare are likely to further increase in the future.

 

The Problem with Debt

The Problem with Debt

Posted May 14, 2009 09:00am EDT by Henry Blodget in InvestingRecession,BankingHousinG

 

The par value of U.S. corporate bonds affected by downgrades hit a high of $522.4 billion

Filed under: U.S macro economy,us stock market and listed companies — rogerwang2046 @ 00:10


Fitch Ratings-New York-13 May 2009: The par value of U.S. corporate bonds affected by downgrades hit a high of $522.4 billion in the first quarter (up from $391.5 billion in the fourth quarter of 2008), resulting in a downgrade rate of 14.5%, as the financial and economic crisis continued to take a toll on corporate credit quality, according to a new Fitch report.

The first quarter of 2009 also saw another unwelcome milestone as the share of U.S. corporate bonds rated ‘AAA’ fell below 1% of market volume while the share of ‘CCC’ rated issues moved up again to a new high of 6.8%. In total, the ‘AAA’ category saw $176.2 billion in downgrades while the ‘AA’ category featured an additional $142.1 billion.

Overall, downgrades affected 14.5% ($426.4 billion) of investment grade U.S. bond market volume in the first quarter while upgrades affected 0.3% ($9.1 billion). On the speculative grade front, the effects of negative and positive changes were 14.8% ($96 billion) and 1.7% ($10.8 billion), respectively.

A positive development in the first quarter was a strong rebound in issuance, tallying $184.9 billion following dismal third- and fourth-quarter 2008 activity of just $80.8 billion and $74.4 billion, respectively. While an impressive turnaround, this strength came from highly rated, defensive industrial names. Financial and speculative grade issuance remained very low.

The new report, titled ‘U.S. Corporate Bond Market: A Review of First-Quarter 2009 Rating and Issuance Activity’, offers additional details on issuance patterns, rating activity by broad market sector and industry, and bonds coming due. The report is available on the Fitch Ratings web site at www.fitchratings.com under ‘Credit Market Research’.

I

 


 

Options Trader: Thankful Friday -May 08, 2009 2009/05/10

Options Trader: Thankful Friday 

May 08, 2009 | about stocks: DIA / FAZ    

I am very happy we cashed out.

We cashed out our longs, as planned, very close to the top and yesterday, at 1:47, I sent out an Alert to Members titled: “Not Being Greedy With May Shorts” in which I said: “At this point, with our put plays all back in black – we need to start stopping out if they get the market back over 8,400 (our goal was to get to cash and this is a gift). With a 50 point Dow trailing stop if we head lower than 8,360. Ideally, we should be out of any May puts (or May anythings) and cautious about June. If it’s a real sell-off, we use the cash to scale into June puts (which would include FAZ calls of course).” That was a FANTASTIC call (if I do say so myself) as we bottomed out at 8,358 at 3:33, by which time we were already cashed out ahead of the usual stick save.

It was a perfect day as we stuck with our plan from Wednesday night to press our short bets into the gap up open we expected, and we’re now in cash and are likely to day-trade a few short-side bets this morning but cash is still going to be king going into the weekend. This will be a short post as I am already working on our next round of bank plays for members as we also cashed out most of our sample $100,000 Hedged Portfolio ahead of the stress tests and are itching to take up some new positions so I wrote a new post entitled “Stress-Free Investing In Stress-Tested Banks” with plenty of new entries we’ll be looking to make into next week.

The Jobs report showed a loss of “only” 539,000 jobs but last month was revised up 69,000 which everyone seems determined to ignore. Unemployment is up 0.4% to 8.9%, the worst since Sept 1983. If the government hadn’t added 72,000 jobs (mostly census workers) this would not be at all pretty so we will be shorting the Dow at the open as a day trade and taking off our put covers against our long DIA puts, perhaps recovering into the weekend if we get a nice sell-off.

Oil is back at $58 so we’ll be shorting that into the weekend (I’m shorting the futures now below $58 with a stop there) as Toyota (TM) and Honda (HMC)gave poor reports with poor outlook. We know our auto industry sucks but if those two can’t sell cars either then the people buying oil are certifiable and we are happy to take their money.

Asia was up a point and Europe is up about 1.5% on bank fever but I see projected losses of up to $599 (not $600) BILLION by our 19 largest banks alone if the economy does not improve. So forgive us if we hold onto our cash over the weekend while we wait for people to sober up.

Have a nice weekend.

 

ABB战略180°大逆转 2009/05/09

ABB战略180°大逆转

作者:王 晨    来源:21世纪经济报道    日期:2005-9-8 20:44:00  

11月20日,瑞士苏黎世。在这个欧洲的滑雪圣地,有一大群人似乎对一份财务报表更感兴趣,却对屋外的美丽雪景毫无兴致。
  当这群神情严肃的绅士们走出大会议室的时候,不知道ABB集团全球执行委员会的大老板们会是什么心情,脸上又会是怎样的表情。
  不过令人松一口气的是,传来的是好消息———或许是ABB在这个寒冷的“财务冬天”等到的惟一一条好消息———在特别股东大会上,申请由股东们给ABB注资25亿美元资本金的计划被批准了。
  在该计划中,ABB将以每股4瑞士法郎的价格,在斯德哥尔摩、伦敦和法兰克福证券交易所,发放8.4亿股的新股。
  这个特别股东大会上,一共有一千二百多位股东出席,所持股份达到了ABB总股本的48.7%,可见ABB的“病情”多令人关注。

  减债是硬道理

  巨人病了,而且病得不轻。这位曾几何时的电气巨人,已经病到了不能自己造血,需要股东再次大量输血的地步。而且,除了失血过度以外,ABB还正在变得越来越小。
  财务表现上,算上2003年第三季度的财务报表,已经是ABB的连续5个季度亏损了,而且,在2002年度开始亏损以前,在2001年ABB也发生亏损15亿美元。据彭博信息报道,ABB计划把债务从目前的82亿美元水平削减一半至40亿美元。目前ABB的净资产已经缩水至不足10亿美元。
  就在股东大会招开的前一天,ABB成功地出售了8年期的6.5亿欧元(近7.5亿美元)的公司债券,以部分偿还2003到2010年需要支付的65亿美元债务,还与银团签订了为期三年、金额达到10亿美元的新信贷协定。
  经营业务上也是坏消息。更早之前的10月29日,ABB公司在发布2003年第3季度财务报告的时候,发布了一条连自己都觉得很痛苦的消息———ABB计划通过出售石油设备生产部门以削减负债并提高资本金。摩根大通公司的投资子公司JPMorganPartners、康多富投资(CandoverInvestments)和3i集团拟最多出资9.75亿美元收购ABB的石油设备部门。
  这已经是继出售金融服务与发电业务以后,ABB再一次出售非核心业务了。曾经包括发电、输配电、石油化工,到保险、金融服务和工业IT服务的全球业务,最终将仅剩下输配电及工业自动化这两大核心业务。
  ABB估计,退出飞机及汽车租赁,楼宇系统,以及在中国石化、瑞士出口信用公司等公司的投资权益,可以在短期内给ABB集团带来8.6亿美元的现金,而退出石化及其它投资项目,在长期内可以为ABB带来20亿美元做减债之用。而在去年9月,ABB集团已经以35亿瑞士法郎的价格,向通用电气公司出售了金融服务部门。
  尽管大规模的出售非核心业务,高昂的债务所引发的高额利息还是让ABB有些举步维艰,2003年第三季度的季报显示,仅利息支出就达到1.28亿美元,而当季的息税前收入仅2.62亿美元,一半被沉重的债务吞没,另外一半,则被那些所谓的“不再继续的业务”所吞没。
  11月初,ABB集团全球执行委员会成员包利华来到中国,有记者提问关于ABB发电方面的业务,包利华略有些窘迫地说,ABB已经退出了发电业务。不过在中国广东省的一个风力发电试验站还会继续下去。
  “不过,我们已经看到了希望的曙光。ABB在出售完不盈利的业务以后,所保留的输配电业务和自动化业务是两个盈利非常可观的业务,而且订单还在增加。这两个业务都很大,每年的收入各自接近100亿美元,所以我们已经看到了走出低谷的希望。”在接受本报记者专访的时候,ABB中国高级副总裁陈达平对上述问题做了解释。
  ABB2003年第三季度的数字表明:自动化技术和电力与能源两大主要业务的收益达到了38亿美元与43亿美元,电力业务的订单上升了21%,工业自动化的订单上升了16%,而息税前盈利也达到了2.38亿美元和2.94亿美元。2003年的头九个月,ABB通过大力实行压缩成本策略,节省了4.2亿美元的成本,还在全球内削减了5600名员工。
  他指出,ABB近年的持续业绩不佳,起因是由于“石棉案”所带来的巨额赔偿压力拖住了ABB的脚步。

  石棉案

  1989年11月,前ABB集团CEO巴列维决定以16亿美元收购美国燃烧工程公司(CombustionEngineering)。
  20世纪70年代,燃烧工程公司生产以石棉作为隔热材料的工业锅炉。后来,人们发现石棉是致癌物质。生产这种锅炉的员工以及在工厂里负责烧锅炉的工人陆续以身体健康受损害为由,要求该公司赔偿。ABB提出收购时,燃烧工程公司就已官司不断。然而,急于拓展美国市场的ABB高管没有看到问题的严重性。
  石棉案带给ABB的总计损失近12亿美元。ABB在美国的子公司美国燃烧工程公司(CombustionEngineering)因此而宣布破产保护。
  在和解方案中,除了CombustionEngineering的800万美元资产要赔光之外,ABB需要付出近11亿美元的赔偿,其中还不包括额外的3.5亿美元的现金,以及近5000万美元的ABB股票。有近10万的石棉案索赔者批准了这一方案。在2004年到2009年,ABB将会分批付出这些现金赔偿。
  和解方案已经在今年7月10日,被美国的DELAWARE破产法庭所批准,7月31日,地区法院也批准了这一方案。下个月的16日,第三CIRCUIT上诉法庭将会就此事做出最终的裁决。
  虽然12亿美元损失已经被ABB作为坏账拨备掉了,但是未来还需要付出1亿美元的代价。季度年报显示,石棉案带来的亏损依然高达1.22亿,包括股份调整带来的6700万美元损失,以及未来5000万美元债务折净现值以后带来的4100万美元损失。

  过度并购以后的消化不良症

  过度并购是ABB深陷债务困境的主要病因之一。前任ABB集团CEO巴列维在任期间共进行了150多起收购,业务遍及100多个国家,共运营着1000多家公司,最多时员工总数达21.5万名。
  截至2001年底,员工数量仍有16万人。ABB集团的经营范围涉及发电、电力传输和配电、建筑技术、自动化控制系统、油气、化工技术、金融服务、IT等等,还争取过3G手机牌照。
  在股市狂热的时候,股民的投资比较容易取得,大量的并购增加了ABB公司的营运收益和市场价值,但是最高决策层接着犯的错误就开始将ABB推到现在的深渊。
  2000年,ABB股票价格处在高峰的时候,董事会决定了一项股票回购计划。当时动用了大量的资金在市场上回收ABB的股票。但之后,由于全球经济低迷,加上“9·11”事件的冲击,ABB股票价格不断下滑,使ABB账面资产大幅缩水,出现严重亏损。到2001年底,ABB集团亏损已达6.91亿美元。
  2001年开始,ABB就开始为自己制定了“瘦身计划”,开始重组其全球企业结构,原有的业务部门被合并成四个新的客户部门,即公用事业部;流程工业部;制造及消费品部;石油、天然气及化工部。另外还有动力技术产品部和自动化技术产品两个部门,其主要目的是提高客户数量及公司从客户中获取利润的能力。与此同时,ABB集团也实施了裁员1.2万人的计划,希望通过这些措施每年节约成本5亿美元。
  2002年ABB继大规模的出售非核心业务外,还为自己定下了到2005年每年削减8亿元成本的计划。2003年和2004年,ABB为自己的重组计划还需要分别付出3亿及2亿美元的成本。