- A “remarkable change” in investor sentiment has doubled the price of some collateralized loan obligation securities in the past month, according to Morgan Stanley analysts. CLOs are a type of collateralized debt obligation that pool high-yield, high-risk, or junk, loans and slice them into securities of varying risk and return. Pieces graded AA, the third highest-level of investment grade, rose from 23 cents on the dollar to 47 cents in the past month, Morgan Stanley analysts led by Vishwanath Tirupattur wrote in a June 5 report.
- UBS AG(UBS), the European bank with the biggest losses from the financial crisis, is in talks with the Swiss government about the repayment of 6 billion francs ($5.5 billion) in aid, two people with knowledge of the matter said. UBS is weighing options, including a stock sale, to raise funds to pay back the state, said the people, who declined to be identified because the talks are private.
- Credit-default swaps traders are expediting an auction to settle General Motors Corp. contracts to ensure payouts are made before bonds disappear in a U.S.-led restructuring, according to people familiar with the matter.
- Ford Motor Co.(F) is telling lawmakers it is concerned that federal support for GMAC LLC is giving the rival auto lender cheaper borrowing costs. The Senate Banking Committee will examine fair treatment for Ford at a June 10 hearing about how President Barack Obama’s auto task force is restructuring the auto industry, said Justine Sessions, spokeswoman for Chairman Christopher Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat. Ford is the only major U.S. carmaker that hasn’t filed for bankruptcy protection.
- Citigroup Inc. is poised to start a $58 billion stock swap that was held up while Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair questioned Chief Executive Officer Vikram Pandit’s leadership and the bank awaited regulatory approvals, people close to the bank said.
- I’ve finally figured out the Obama economic strategy. President Barack Obama and his team have been having so much fun wielding dictatorial power while rescuing “failed” firms, that they have developed a scheme to gain the same power over every business. The plan is to enact policies that are so anticompetitive that every firm needs a bailout. Once that happens, their new pay czar Kenneth Feinberg can set the wage for everybody and Rahm Emanuel can stack the boards of all of our companies with his political cronies.
- Ireland had its credit rating lowered for the second time this year by Standard & Poor’s, which cited the nation’s rising bill for propping up its banks. The rating was cut one step to AA, from AA+, S&P said in a statement today, moving it to the same level as Japan, Slovenia and the United Arab Emirates.
- A group of Senate Republicans sent a letter to President Barack Obama declaring their opposition to including a government-run plan in a health-care overhaul, saying it would be a “federal government takeover” of the health system. “Creating a brand-new government program will not only worsen our long-term financial outlook but also negatively impact American families who enjoy the private coverage of their choice,” said the letter from nine Republicans who are working on bipartisan health-care legislation.
- Oil companies are storing crude on at least seven supertankers off the coast of the U.K., enough to supply the country for more than a week, even as higher prices reduce the incentive to put more oil into storage. Seven Very Large Crude Carriers, containing as much as 14 million barrels of North Sea crude, are anchored off Britain, according to AISLive tracking data and the median estimate of six oil traders surveyed by Bloomberg.
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- Many Western companies that opened centers in India to perform back-office tasks on the cheap have recently sold or closed those facilities, reversing a decade-long trend as companies look to slash costs and eliminate headaches during the recession.
- North Korea sentenced two American journalists to 12 years in prison labor camps after convicting them of illegally entering the country, a harsh penalty handed down after a closed trial and mysterious arrest that underline Pyongyang's reputation for injustice and its hostile relationship with the U.S. The ruling against Euna Lee and Laura Ling, reporters for Current TV LLC, of San Francisco, raises the prospect that they will be the first Americans subjected to North Korea's gulag-style prisons, among the world's most horrific, though it wasn't immediately known where they would be sent.
- The main White House argument for health-care reform goes something like this: If we spend now on a hugely expensive new insurance program for the middle class, we can save later by reducing overall U.S. health spending. This "tastes great, less filling" theory could stand some scrutiny, not least because it is being used to rush through the greatest social spending program in American history.
- Apple(AAPL) plans to overhaul its popular iPhone and will price them "aggressively," CNBC has learned, sending its shares AAPL down sharply. At the widely anticipated Apple Developers Conference in San Francisco, the company showed its new iPhone 3.0, which comes with 100 new features. Among these, users can now rent and buy movies right from their phones via iTunes, and access more than 500 best-selling books. Soon, they will also be able to access 50 magazines, 170 newspapers and 1 million books through the App Store. The company also showcased new MacBook Pro laptops with longer battery lives, faster processors and lower prices.
- Freeman Dyson Takes On the Climate Establishment. Princeton physicist Freeman Dyson has been roundly criticized for insisting global warming is not an urgent problem, with many climate scientists dismissing him as woefully ill-informed. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Dyson explains his iconoclastic views and why he believes they have stirred such controversy. On March 3, The New York Times Magazine created a major flap in the climate-change community by running a cover story on the theoretical physicist Freeman Dyson that focused largely on his views of human-induced global warming. Basically, he doesn’t buy it. The climate models used to forecast what will happen as we continue to pump CO2 into the atmosphere are unreliable, Dyson claims, and so, therefore, are the projections. Dyson is hard to dismiss in part because of his brilliance. He’s on the faculty at the Institute for Advanced Study, where as a young physicist he hobnobbed with Albert Einstein. When Julian Schwinger, Sin-Itiro Tomonaga and Richard Feynman shared the 1965 Nobel Prize in physics for quantum electrodynamics, Dyson was widely acknowledged to be almost equally deserving — but the Nobel Committee only gives out three prizes for a given discovery.
- The Obama administration plans to announce as soon as today that some of the nation's largest banks can repay billions in federal aid, but some officials caution that the show of progress is being underwritten by multiple layers of less visible government support. Through cheap loans, debt guarantees and a promise that big banks will not be allowed to fail, these officials say the government has created an artificial environment in which profits and stock prices have rebounded, helping banks in recent weeks to raise about $50 billion from private investors. The money allows the strongest banks to return federal aid provided at the peak of the fall financial crisis, but few banks have expressed eagerness for the government to end the other forms of support, creating concern that these programs will be habit-forming and more difficult to terminate.
- The Obama administration entered office determined to give negotiations with North Korea every opportunity. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hinted that she was seriously considering a visit to Pyongyang. Stephen Bosworth, a distinguished scholar and moderate diplomat, was appointed principal negotiator. These overtures were vituperatively rejected. Pyongyang refuses to return to the negotiating table and has revoked all its previous concessions. It has restarted the nuclear reprocessing plant it had mothballed and has conducted nuclear weapons and missile tests. It has said the Korean Armistice Agreement of 1953 no longer applies. The explanation for this may lie in a domestic struggle for succession to the clearly ailing "Dear Leader," Kim Jong Il. North Korea's leaders also seem to have recognized that no matter how conciliatory U.S. diplomacy, its goal of the abandonment of North Korea's nuclear weapons capability cannot be accepted. They apparently have concluded that no degree of political recognition could compensate them for abandoning the signal (and probably sole) achievement of their rule, for which they have obliged their population to accept unprecedented oppression. They may well calculate that weathering a period of international protest is their ticket to emerging as a de facto nuclear power.
- While as many as nine banks are expected to be told today that they are getting paroled from Uncle Sam's Troubled Asset Relief Program, one banking giant that went into the crisis fairly healthy may not be one of them. Wells Fargo(WFC), which throughout much of the financial meltdown managed to hold steady while its rivals stumbled, has become ensnared by the troubles of Wachovia Bank, which it bought last year without the help of taxpayer dough, and as a result may not be left off the TARP hook just yet.
- Cisco Systems Inc.(CSCO) is hardly your ordinary acquirer of technology companies. With $33 billion in cash and equivalents and a track record of 133 acquisitions since it snapped up its first company in 1993, it's no stretch to say Cisco wrote the book on tech M&A But when the San Jose, Calif., networking equipment giant, which has slowed its pace of dealmaking since the financial turmoil of last year, says its about to start firing up its M&A engines again, the news will likely reverberate through the world of tech buyers. "We certainly aren't clear on when the upturn will occur, but we are starting to feel some stabilization," says Charles Carmel, Cisco's vice president of corporate business development. "Stable footing for us and potential targets mean we will be more active in the second half of this calendar year than the first half ... and we'll do more this year than last."
- We came across this interesting piece in Dealbook the other day and thought it was very intriguing. Simply put: hedge funds are now investing in lawsuits now. The premise is pretty simple: they invest in one side of the lawsuit and get a share of the winnings (if, of course, they win the case).
- The collapse in the US housing sector may stabilize and bottom out this year based on some of the data presented below. Sub-prime and Alt-A mortgages have been some of the worst loans that have hit lenders in recent months. However there have been reports of even prime mortgages including jumbo mortgages going bad due to rising unemployment, fall in income and other factors.
- General Motors Corp, which filed for bankruptcy protection a week ago, said on Monday that it would cease production of medium-duty trucks by July 31 after attempts to sell the operation failed. "After four years of working with multiple potential buyers, General Motors has decided to wind down its medium-duty truck operations," the automaker said in a statement.
- A rush of investors betting signs of an economic rebound will spark demand for oil and other raw materials has driven prices to levels that may belie fundamentals and created the specter of another commodities bubble. The gains come despite forecasts that fuel demand will fall by the steepest rate since 1981 this year, and despite strong supplies in some agricultural markets. That sets the stage for creation of a bubble similar to the one seen last year, analysts say, and raises questions about the sustainability of the recent price rise. "Right now the price of crude oil is really not supported by fundamentals," said Rob Kurzatkowski, futures analyst with optionsXpress in Chicago. Hedge-fund manager Michael Masters last week appeared before the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee arguing another bubble may be growing and that prices again were being determined by trading desks of large Wall Street firms -- and not by supply and demand. "This bull market is being manufactured by a bunch of guys trying to get their marks, not on the fundamentals," said Stephen Schork, editor of The Schork Report energy newsletter. "Momentum and high prices have become the justification for buying, not the real fundamentals of this market." Delays in corn and soybean planting have accounted for some of the bullish attitudes about agriculture futures during the past few weeks. But the crops were generally in better shape in most areas than they were a year ago. In 2008, Midwest farmers managed to produce bumper crops of both corn and soybeans despite severe flooding that left millions of acres of key production areas underwater. "Eventually there has to be some pressure on prices but it has not happened yet," said Darrell Jobman, senior analyst for TraderPlanet.com.
- A group of technology heavyweights, including chiefs of IBM (IBM) and Motorola Inc (MOT) enlisted a former Clinton administration economist to beat back President Barack Obama's plan to boost some taxes on overseas profits. The Technology CEO Council recruited Robert J. Shapiro, a former top Commerce Department official, who wrote a report released on Monday arguing that significant jobs losses could occur under Obama's plan.
- President Barack Obama appears less interested in pursuing a “special relationship” with India than his predecessor as US leader, says Kashmir’s chief minister. Omar Abdullah says this state of affairs reduces the likelihood that Washington can nudge New Delhi and Islamabad to resolve their decades-old conflict over the troubled state. While campaigning for the US presidency last year, Mr Obama said one of his “critical tasks” would be to help settle the poisonous Kashmir dispute, as part of the wider effort to stabilize south Asia, including Afghanistan. His words provoked expectations among the disgruntled, mostly-Muslim residents of Indian-administered Kashmir that Washington would try to broker a deal to end a conflict that has claimed about 70,000 lives, mostly civilians, and left 500,000 Indian troops, there. But Mr Obama’s words raised hackles in New Delhi and were described by Selig Harrison, a top US expert on Asia, as Mr Obama’s “first big foreign policy mistake”. India’s national security adviser was sufficiently affronted to warn the new president last February against “barking up the wrong tree”.
- The wife of the presidential candidate challenging Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad in Friday’s election has threatened to sue Iran’s fundamentalist president for comments he made in a television debate. Zahra Rahnavard, who has played a significant role in her husband Mir-Hossein Moussavi’s election campaign, said on Sunday that if Mr Ahmadi-Nejad did not apologize within 24 hours she would take him to court, after he questioned her degree and academic status. The spat is the latest in a campaign that grows increasingly aggressive as election day approaches.
- Most of the world’s major economies are now close to the low point of their slowdowns, in a sign that the global recession is easing, according to data published on Monday. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development reported that a “possible trough” had been reached in April for its monthly analysis of forward-looking indicators in advanced economies. The composite leading indicators index for the 30 countries in the OECD rose 0.5 points in April, the second monthly rise in a row, although it remains 8.3 points lower than April 2008. The index seeks to identify turning points in the cycle about six months in advance.
- North Korea is showing signs it’s preparing to test-fire a short-range missile from its coast, citing South Korean military sources. North Korea may launch the missile between June 10-30 as it has imposed a shipping ban in an area off its northeastern coast for that period.