Friday, April 25, 2008

One Sentence, One Picture, One Story.

(A) The Sentence:

Ambac's CEO Michael Callen said his company has enough capital to keep its AAA rating.

(B) The Picture:

Ambac Share Price

(C) The Story:

Kindly combine (A) and (B).

44 comments:

OkieLawyer said...

H:

I have noticed a disturbing trend in business these days -- particularly large corporate entities; specifically, there seems to be no concern about its reputation with its employees or customers. The view is short-sighted. Short-term profit is an end to itself. When I was practicing law, I remember business owners who would take the attitude that creating a new corporate entity every week was part of their business model.

American businesses need to start thinking long-term.

But, be that as it may, is it possible that a company's share price has no relation to its credit rating?

eh said...

Rumor has it that their recent loss was more than twice their current market cap.

Palerider said...

But, be that as it may, is it possible that a company's share price has no relation to its credit rating?

Well it appears so but let's be more specific. There is no relation to the ratings provided by three agencies whose revenues come from the companies which they rate. The share price is a rating from the market place which is an aggregate of the ratings from many individual market participants. As exhibits A and B show that aggregate rating is quite different from those of the agencies. It has been suggested by others, and I agree, that the mere fact that the AAA ratings have not changed inspite of the horrendous changes in the bond insurer balance sheets calls into question the validity of those ratings.

Marcus said...

OkieLawyer,

Here's my two cent piece. People reflect the leader in an organization.

If you take the leadership of business leaders as the executives in charge of the country you have the root of the problem.

Its OK to lie and cheat as long as you have an explanation--not a rational explanation--any explanation. And our media have been Stockholm-syndrome accomplices in this mess.

The National character has been severely degraded by these miscreants.

Anonymous said...

Hell:

I've been thinking a lot about your milestone post of yesterday, re: pegging money supply to investment into a target sector. In your example, you chose Green energy.

As a vocal advocate of smarter resource allocation, I was delighted with your idea. Yes, there are some major "details" to work out, but the idea of using the Fed as the pivotal instrument to steer macro economic investment, rather than just performing flow-control on gross spending (GDP), is a terrific idea, and it ought to get a thorough vetting.

Especially for you, Hell, and for the rest of the very bright readers of your blog, I offer following link to an Excel spreadsheet provided by the Census Bureau. It represents the annual capital investment by U.S. industrial sector from 2000 to 2005.

National Resource Allocation 2000-2005

As you look it over, ask yourself this: if I held the reallocate-investment magic wand, where would I have put America's money over the 2000 - 2005 period?

Wouldn't it be helpful to have a clear, simple, recurring, national-level discussion about our "household budget"? What could possibly be any more basic than that?

I wish I could post this information as a chart, as it would explain quite eloquently why our economy is in such trouble.

Hell, would you consider a future post on this theme?

OuterBeltway

Anonymous said...

Doh!

Thai said...

Marcus said... "People reflect the leader in an organization."

I agree

But have you ever thought that the reverse might also be true: "The leader of a organization reflects its people"?

remember that Okielawyer just said... "large corporate entities...(have) no concern about (their) reputation... American businesses need to start thinking long-term"

One is reminded of the chapter in Steven Levitt's book Freakonomics on Bagel theft as a marker of white collar crime. Many of those 'businesses' he studied were really divisions of the federal government-- seemed governement workers were just as corrupt.

The problem is not our leaders think short term, the problem is WE think short term and then choose our leaders.

That whole emergence thing again

Thai said...

"The problem is not our leaders think short term, the problem is WE think short term and then choose our leaders."

To be fair, it is both

Anonymous said...

M3ANON said:

Hellasious-

This post is like Haiku - so much said in so few words. But the message is not very comforting.

On a related note I came across this opinion piece on the CDS market at the gold-eagle.com website a week or so ago.
http://www.gold-eagle.com/editorials_08/tan041608.html
The writer is Thomas Tan whose work is frequently posted on the site. In this piece Tan goes over a lot of the CDS stuff but he goes into specifically how the CDS market has been used to artifically inflate corporate profit claims - to a H-U-G-E extent. After reading this I flipped my wig. I immediately thought of you and wondered what you'd think of Tan's points as well as perhaps provide us an update on the CDS troubles (in case you are thinking of topics for future posts - it is your blog and all and I appreciate your passion for the Environmental stuff but I benefit much more by your vast knowledge and wisdom in the economics and finance realm. Yes. This is about me and my continuing free education via the Sudden Debt blog. You need to stop posting so many posts on the Environment and think about me more often and focus all energies on economics and finance. What about me? Indeed Man, where are your priorities?) 8-)

Have a good weekend hellasious.

Realty-Based Lawyer said...

H -

I think you have a great blog and read it daily. This time, though, I think you might be off.
1) Common stock in Ambac's holding company is definitely NOT the same thing as a policy from Ambac the insurer. The holding company depends on dividends from the insurer (and non-insurance subsidiaries), but there are significant legal as well as practical restrictions on the insurer's ability to pay dividends. Easy for all the policies to pay on time and in full, with money left over, while the stock price drops.
2) Financial guaranty insurance is a cash business, where much of the premiums are prefunded (muni) and all are non-refundable. The key is evaluating the portfolio on a run-off basis: claims paid or payable (rather than mark-to-market losses) vs. capital plus future premiums plus earnings on investment portfolio.
3) The ratings confirmations may well have factored in this loss. Also, Fitch has Ambac at AA.

I wouldn't invest in holding company stock. I'm very confident that the policies will be paid on time and in full.

D said...

In his 1986 book, "The Alchemy of Finance," Soros prescribed a unified global currency backed by energy. It is my estimation that we will see Obama and we will see a unified global currency which is backed by energy.

Great book if you haven't read it, or haven't read it in a while...very timely!

Anonymous said...

YIKES!

This blog has good insights as to what is going on here and now but this discussion sounds like GOSPLAN all over again.

No matter how good the intentions any such structure will be a magnet for the same scoundrels(or worse) that created the current mess.

Shrink the government, enforce the constitution.

We have no problems only solutions.

Ann Pettifor said...

Hell,

Can I refer back to your landmark comment of yesterday too please? An economist, Richard Douthwaite, of FEASTA in Ireland has been working on developing a new currency for his 'cap and share' proposal for cutting emissions - and calls it the 'energy-backed currency unit' ebcu....this is a link to the relevant chapter in his book.


http://www.feasta.org/documents/moneyecology/pdfs/chapter_four.pdf

yoyomo said...

Thai,
Your comments today sound suspiciously similar to my paraphrase of Nelson Mandela.

In a democracy we get the leadership we deserve. Fawning gulibility is no defense.

Edwardo said...

Well, Mr.Callen is a liar and a fool. He's obviously lying about the condition AMBAC is in, and he's a fool for thinking he can bamboozle us with such patent bilge. What the graph means beyond that is, of course, all bad.

okielawyer, you are on to something. In my view, that something you are on to is the identification of corruption of the sort that utterly corrodes all it touches. Due to the degree of that sort of corruption about the land, we are really in for quite a shitstorm going forward, wouldn't you say?

After all, we have a Commander-in Chief, who, as you may have noticed, has great difficulty admitting that the nation's economy is in recession, but instead observes that growth has slowed. This reminds me of a U.S. general, I forget his name, who when his troops were over run by Chinese forces during the Korean War described his troop's retreat as advancing in a different direction. That sort of spinning can be useful at times, but I submit most of the B.S. we are constantly faced with is anything but useful except to a handful of folks who should have long since been perp walked.

Thai offered the following:

"But have you ever thought that the reverse might also be true: "The leader of an organization reflects its people"?

I am put in mind of the term feedback loop. Corporations are dynamic entities, that always have a defining ethos, if one looks hard enough, whatever the surface may seem to reveal, the leaders and those being led, how can I put this, make each other possible. Having said that, I do not meant to suggest that all are equally culpable in the ultimate performance of the organization. Kenneth Lay and Jeff Skilling and the rest of Enron's criminal executive bear, by far, the lion's share of responsibility for the demise of Enron.

BTW, Hell, have you written anyone in government about your "green" dollar monetary scheme? If not, why not?

notso_liquid_paper said...

Ambac is not money.

Michael Callen is paid to say those very words, to say otherwise...well I dont need to tell you how that part ends.

the story is getting very difficult to manage as the race for "what is money?" continues.

any form or sort of currency scheme you would want in place, is already bot, and paid for, just not consumed.

Bi-polar bond markets, and Cutlural conservatism get tested.

Anonymous said...

But if we just oulaw abortion and gay marriage, everything will be alright.

Edwardo said...

Bravo for the following comment:

"But if we just oulaw abortion and gay marriage, everything will be alright."

Thai said...

Agreed

wkwillis said...

anonymous
As for the environment, the change in world climate that is making northern areas where millions live agriculturally more productive is making subtropical areas where hundreds of millions live agriculturally less productive.
Three of those areas are China, India, and Pakistan. All three have enough nuclear weapons to reduce our population to the point that we can resume net agricultural exports.
Of course, if we shoot back, then we won't have to worry about global warming anymore, will we?

Anonymous said...

"I have noticed a disturbing trend in business these days -- particularly large corporate entities; specifically, there seems to be no concern about its reputation with its employees or customers."

Okielawyer, didn't you get the memo about walking away?

Thai said...

Anon said... "didn't you get the memo about walking away?"

Touche

:-)

yoyomo said...

Someone observed about far right-wingers that their governing philosophy is as follows:

A) All problems, including fiscal defecits, are caused by teen pregnancy.

B) All problems, including teen pregnancy, can be solved by tax cuts.

W/respect to leaders and followers, it is most definitely a self re-enforcing spiral, it's up to us to decide whether we move up toward the light or in the opposite direction.

If eternal vigilance is the price of liberty then eternal violence is the price of negligence. If you don't go looking for it, in some form or other, it will come looking for you.

dink said...

Anything that makes terrestrial existance more fair seems to upset the religious (we can say "right-wing" or "red-state" if that is more comfortable).

Women/gays/"infidels"/lower castes wanting to be self-directing just ruins their whole paradigm. How dare these "others" jinx my chances for eternal bliss? How do you cooperate with someone who believes you're a sinner? The guy in prison who has tattoo'd a crucifix onto his face, he's kin. Someone who has lived ethically (10 commandments)but doesn't own a bible, he'll never be kin.

Didn't Huckabee want to "fix" the constitution by removing the seperation of church and state mandate? He was coming up with some pretty big percentages in the red states.

D said...

yoyo -

...and Steven Levitt mathematically "proved" that legalized abortion reduced crime rates. The best description I have heard of our political options is:

Socialist-Lite R
Socialist-Heavy D

Whichever way you lean, it's on the same side of the boat. As long as people are fixating on R v D there will be 0 progress made to slash the size of the Federal government. The problem with Libertarians is by definition they detest organized government and never get organized themselves.

Conundrum!

yoyomo said...

D,
I've read about that theory that the drop in youth crime rates in the early 90's (20yrs after Roe v Wade) was the result of unwanted children not being born. It's uncomfortable to think that one's odds in life are set before birth but it has its own logic.

In the same vein, their was a non-profit that was trying to raise money to pay drug addicted women to have tubal ligations to prevent repeated pregnancies. It made sense to me but there was a big controversy and I think it was forced to close down. Each solution seems to come with its own set of dilemas.

Thai said...

There has been a lot more work looking at the abortion-crime hypothesis (see one of many links), the theory has been discredited

Thomas Shawn said...

Yes, keep killing those inferior races/lower class in utero all to keep us safe in out white liberal suburbs. Margaret Sanger and Adolph Hitler are cheering in hell for the abortion supporters.

Homosexual "marriage" represents the same sort of lying that the CEO of Ambac engages in.

Oh, and by the way, its not a recession until you have two quarters of negative GDP growth, no matter how badly the socialists wish for one.

Edwardo said...

Dink said:

"Anything that makes terrestrial existance more fair seems to upset the religious (we can say "right-wing" or "red-state" if that is more comfortable)."

-You've got it. And over the last four or five decades, these folks have found new and creative ways to thinly re-package their traditional prejudices, (some might say bigotry) and greed in seemingly benign, but ultimately dishonest political programs that are then pimped by The Republican party.

Dink goes on to say:

Women/gays/"infidels"/lower castes wanting to be self-directing just ruins their whole paradigm. How dare these "others" jinx my chances for eternal bliss? How do you cooperate with someone who believes you're a sinner? The guy in prison who has tattoo'd a crucifix onto his face, he's kin. Someone who has lived ethically (10 commandments)but doesn't own a bible, he'll never be kin.

Didn't Huckabee want to "fix" the constitution by removing the seperation of church and state mandate? He was coming up with some pretty big percentages in the red states.

-And where does it all lead?

It either gets resolved in some civilized manner, OR
at some point in the future, the U.S. will for this, and other reasons, split up into smaller entities. I know it seems impossible, but my view is that it is an inevitability. Empires, and the U.S. certainly is one, always disintegrate, and there are no exceptions.

Edwardo said...

Thomas Shawn wrote:

"Oh, and by the way, its not a recession until you have two quarters of negative GDP growth, no matter how badly the socialists wish for one."

I bet you rely on government statistics too. We've been in a recession since last year by any sensible
measures.

yoyomo said...

I wonder if Thomas Shawn would support pregnancy prevention programs that would reduce the demand for abortion or, to salve one's conscience, is it enough to drag Hitler into the discussion?

D said...

When homosexuality goes mainstream it's the top of the social deterioration bubble...

History proves that one time and time again. Being gay can only be important when you have dismissed/forgotten everything that does matter.

We have a real problem folks...best wishes to everyone unprepared for reality!

dink said...

Per Edwardo:

"at some point in the future, the U.S. will for this, and other reasons, split up into smaller entities. I know it seems impossible, but my view is that it is an inevitability. Empires, and the U.S. certainly is one, always disintegrate, and there are no exceptions."

Inevitable, absolutely. There are deeply held beliefs on both sides that just aren't compatible. I won't be patriotic to a theocracy, they won't be patriotic to anything but a theocracy. Can you imagine a country where you had pretty much any freedom to do what you wanted with your own life so long as it doesn't intrude on another's physical well-being? Form your own consenting social bond, smoke what you want, but you have to pass a basic calculus class to vote. Scientists would swarm to it, fortunes made since others would need the technology/medical care/energy/education, and it'd be a role model for developing countries. Maybe some third world nation will see the light, form a new constitution, and grant all freethinkers citizenship. It would tranform the world within our lifetimes.

yoyomo said...

Don't hold your breath Dink, D and Thomas Shawn are still trying to determine which is the greater threat to our over-populated planet; birth control or gay marriage.

D said...

yoyomo...

Don't shoot the messenger and don't put words in my mouth! In an effort to organize me into 1 of 2 simplified social boxes you ignored my message. We shouldn't be arguing about abortion or gay rights...the why is of secondary importance.

We can all watch "life" on TV or we can live a real life. Keep your eye on the ball folks, it's your responsibility and not what the players encourage you to do!

dink said...

Yoyomo,

Surely they'll reconsider the logic..... So have you finished designing the ice caves? :)

yoyomo said...

No need for a new design, ice caves or cellars (take your pick) have been in use in northern China and Korea for hundreds of years where winter ice is brought down from the mountains early in the spring to provide cold storage over the warm weather months.

dink said...

Yoyomo,

I hope my last comment didn't come across as a snark against ice caves. I meant to imply that since I can't convince the likes of d to reconsider their ideas I guess that there is no avoiding a Kunstler future after all.

D said...

Dink -

You make it sound like your utopian society of engineering minds is a new concept. Put down "Monte Carlo Calculations For Dummies" and open a history book for some perspective. The USA was founded with a voting scheme that restricted voting to landed men...

Your arrogance and straw man argument illustrates the problem with our education system. Yet another example of how history rhymes.

yoyomo said...

D,
You don't indicate whether you think it was a good or bad idea to restrict voting to land owning males or your rationale for why it would or wouldn't be advantageous (to other than land owning males).

D said...

Yoyo -

The underlying premise of voting is representation. The Bill of Rights makes no distinction between someone who understands an 1800 BC mathematics system and plows a field. Calculus is nothing new... My argument is that this debate has been fought to death numerous times and it always ends with the same conclusion:

Everyone deserves a vote and society is best served by making the best of the situation with those that understand the least. The more knowledgeable will always wish for more and that's what perpetuates innovation and productivity increases.

If there is one area I **wish** we could make a quantum leap, it would be education. But like everyone before me I don't know how to close the gap because some just care more than others. You can't buy/sell motivation.

Wealth relates to the amount of productivity one controls. Energy does so much work that it has been a great source of wealth. The other source of wealth is technology that reduces the amount of productivity factors required.

It is my observation that at some point the productivity of civilizations concentrates/exceeds a loose equilibrium and several things happen:

1) Excessive leisure
2) Destruction of dead weight

Unfortunately, the dead weight are the people and technology that recent innovation render obsolete.

The evidence of a concentration of productivity control is excessive leisure which is manifested in many different forms.

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