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Leverage and bad debts

Some 20 years ago, after a couple of senior management jobs, I was sent off to study for a month at the IMD business school in Switzerland. There I spent time with Prof Jim Ellert, a noted financial analyst, who showed us how to understand a P&L and a balance sheet. He also passed on […]

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Thursday’s child has far to go

The past two Thursdays have seen extraordinary things happen in financial markets. Last Thursday, BNP Paribas suspended redemptions on 3 of its funds, forcing the ECB to inject €95bn of liquidity into the financial system. Yesterday, the largest US mortgage lender, Countrywide Financial, had to raise an emergency €11.5bn loan in order to continue trading, […]

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Rolling thunder and Penn Square Bank

When I worked with ChemConnect in the halcyon days of the dot-com era in 1999-2000, we had a fantastic PR lady called Linda Stegeman. Linda ignored conventional wisdom about ‘bundling’ all your best news together to gain maximum impact. Instead, she released the stories one by one, and let them build. First Dow and Rohm […]

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Interesting Quotes (2)

Credit market problems intensified last week, even though stock markets rallied strongly until Wednesday. I thought you might like to see some more comments on what is going on, from people close to the action. ‘Trust was shaken today (Wednesday). Credit depends on trust. If trust disappears, then credit disappears, and you have a systemic […]

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Every mania has its illusion

All the world’s media are now carrying accounts of the ‘liar loans’ and fraud that has accompanied the growth in US mortgage lending in recent years. How did this come about? All manias gain their strength from a widely believed ‘fact’ that turns out to have been an illusion. With subprime mortgage loans, the ‘fact’ […]

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Subprime: a many-headed Hydra

Yesterday, the ECB (European Central Bank) provided an unprecedented €95bn into the region’s credit markets, to maintain liquidity. Otherwise, firms would have had problems paying their bills, and employees might not have been paid their wages. This is serious stuff, and it was followed by the US Fed providing $24bn into US markets, and the […]

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US auto sales catch subprime fallout

Two of the largest US auto manufacturers, GM and Ford, have now followed Wal-Mart and Tesco’s lead in detecting a change in consumer sentiment. GM, after announcing particularly strong Q2 Asian and emerging market sales, added that US sales declined 7% as a result of ‘increasing fuel prices and concerns about housing’. Ford said that […]

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Regional markets at price parity again

An interesting thing has happened to benzene markets, which I haven’t seen noted elsewhere. According to ICIS pricing, average prices last week in Europe, US Gulf and Asia were $1053/t, $1052/t and $1040/t respectively. Compare that with a year ago. Then, Europe was at $1220/t, USG at $1135/t and Asia at $1010/t. So we have […]

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Interesting Quotes

Normally a 275 point fall on Wall Street, and a 600 point fall in Hong Kong, would make for some headlines. But this time, the media coverage has been very muted. Presumably everybody thinks it will be another ’9 day wonder’, and believes with Chuck Prince of Citigroup that one simply has to keep ‘dancing’. […]

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NINJA turtles ride again

The head of Germany’s financial regulator is warning that US subprime mortgage problems may be about to lead to the worst banking crisis since 1931. Yesterday, WTI crude broke through its 1980’s highs to hit a new all-time record price of $78.77/bbl, and looks poised to push on past $80/bbl. And adding to the sense […]

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