Commodities sidelined to a tad lower :-
Plenty of FX volatility: Canadian dollar, Mexican peso and Sterling the weakest, South Korean won, Kiwi and Norway the strongest. As well as banking jitters, comments from the Bank of England’s Mervyn King that sterling weakness would help to rebalance the economy away from (nasty) financial services and help exports (what? Vauxhall cars?) pushed Cable down to $1.5917 and EUR/GBP £0.9193 (highest since April fool’s day). The US dollar was fairly weak too, taking the Euro up to $1.4845, the Yen to 89.96 and the Swiss franc to 1.0170 (best since July 2008). Short-dated yields dipped, allowing many money market futures contracts to post new all-time highs, the lowest being one-month US TBills at 0.02%, three-months at 0.09%. Major yield curves flattened slightly, longer-dated Treasury yields dropping further because they are not constrained by the zero level. Equity indices gave up half or all of last week’s gains, Mexico, Hong Kong and Shanghai down 4.5% and the hardest hit. Commodities sidelined to a tad lower.
Political and Economic Developments :-
The FT reports that US syndicated loan losses rose to $53 billion so far in 2009, greater than the cumulative losses since 2001, according to the Shared National Credit Program, a body set up in 1977 to monitor loans over $20 million from federally regulated institutions - banks and the shadow banking system. Quality has deteriorated badly, because of poor underwriting as well as weak economic conditions, so that 11.5% of bank loans and 33% of quasi-banks’ advances are now bad debts. Hedge and pension funds, securitisation vehicles and their ilk are hanging on to 47% of problem loans while accounting for just 21% of lending. Assets rated as ‘special mention’, ‘substandard’, ‘doubtful’ and ‘loss’ (the four categories of fragile loans) of this $2.9 trillion market stands at $642 billion or 23% of the portfolio, almost double last year’s 13%.