We are in a wilderness of mirrors.
It’s hard to separate perception from reality.
$700 million bailout or not, our economy sails amongst a sea of icebergs.
The remaining leading investments banks, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, may still be in mortal danger.
Nouriel Roubini, Professor at NYU’s business school, has predicted the mother of all bank runs as Asian and European investors and Mideast and Asian soverign funds decide to withdraw monies from American institutions in order to protect their exposure.
Insurer stocks dived on Senate Majority leader Harry Reid’s comments that a major insurer is on the verge of bankruptcy. The link to this story is here:
http://money.cnn.com/2008/10/02/news/co … /index.htm
Hedge fund failures could be the next iceberg.
Today there was word that a number of colleges and universities are in a panic because Wachovia (which failed and was taken over by Citigroup) has limited access to a $9.3 billion fund over which it served as trustee, the Connecticut based Commonfund.
A personal note: my grandfather, Charles Matton, ran the trust investment department as Wachovia Senior VP during the 50s and mid 60’s at legacy Wachovia before theFirst Atlanta and First Union mergers. My grandmother’s nephew, John Watlington, was President of Wachovia for about 20 years as it became the largest bank in the Southeast. The demise of the bank is a sentimental journey for me.
But back to the situation at hand.
Perhaps the bailout vote tomorrow will stanch these concerns for the moment, and help pull us out of the deep dive we are in.
Overleveraged as they may be, mom and pop may not be all that concerned at the moment. But they have not yet seen their credit card rejected or their equity line canceled. They have not seen half of the stores in the mall go dark. There’s a bit of unreality to it all.
More than one client of mine has recently rejected settlement deals which would have provided them with significant amounts of cash.
Perhaps cash is not king. We shall see.
In the workers comp world, many of us think we are immune. As a creature of statute, benefits are payable.
Workers assume that insurers will not go under. Attorneys assume that CIGA will resolve problems if carriers do fail.
They may all be right. We hope so.
Here is a link to the Wachovia/Commonfund story:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/02/educa … ref=slogin
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Category: Political developments