News that UBS, the major investment bank, has had to follow Citigroup in raising new capital in a hurry, will have added to the CFO concerns I describe below. Massive subprime losses have forced both banks to raise a combined $24.5bn in the past fortnight. Both had previously said that their losses would only be modest.
According to the Financial Times, ‘strong forces are pushing up banks’ demand for capital’. It suggests they are no longer being able to ‘sit on’ bad debts, and that as a result, ‘pressure on bank capital is starting earlier than in previous downturns’. As a result, it believes that Citi and UBS rushed ‘to get in first’, before market conditions become more difficult next year.
Tonight the Fed will have another attempt at waving a magic wand to make these mounting worries go away. To judge by the Duke University survey, chemical industry CFOs, and their professional colleagues, are obviously not over-impressed with the success record so far.