March 31 - Reuters Nancy Leinfuss : "U. April 1 Reuters - U. March 31 - Bloomberg Jeremy R. Cooke : "U. Both stories show that the markets for bonds backed by mortgage and other debts are part of a global game of chicken involving central banks on one side and investors with cash to put to work on the other.
Who blinks first in this game - and, more important, when - will have a significant impact on the health of banks, housing markets and potentially the biggest economies of the world. No investor wants to put money into such debt until these markets look as if they are approaching - or, better, have hit - the bottom There are even hints that taxpayers in the US could ultimately fund a buyer-of-last-resort effort Fitch said Harrington : "Gordian Knot Ltd.
Sigma is the last and largest of the companies that financed themselves in the short-dated commercial paper markets to buy longer-dated assets. April 3 - Financial Times Ralph Atkins and David Oakley : "The European Central Bank launched its first six-month refinancing operation yesterday - but the action failed to ease tensions in the money markets as concerns over further bank writedowns and liquidity weighed on sentiment. The ECB allotted the cash at an average rate of 4.
Investor demand for student-loan bonds has dried up April 3 - Market News International: "The following are highlights from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency's fourth-quarter report on bank trading and derivatives released Wednesday: Insured U. April 1 - Bloomberg Cecile Gutscher and Neil Unmack : "Prices for high-yield, high-risk loans in Europe dropped by a record the first quarter, causing bigger losses for banks and hedge funds.
Deutsche Bank AG, Germany's largest bank, announced its steepest writedown at 2. Investors have abandoned the market for leveraged loans on concern corporate defaults will rise because of higher borrowing costs triggered by the U. March 31 - Market News International: "The [European] new issues market is seeing the end of the first quarter on a quiet note and, not surprisingly, reports this morning point to the slowest start for the market since Sales have reportedly totalled E billion in Q1 versus E billion last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, with no high yield or junk bonds issued since July last year.
April 1 - Financial Times: "Sick as a sovereign wealth fund: how better to describe an investor who has done a very large and exceptionally badly performing deal. In the space of just a few months, SWFs from Asia and the Middle East have lost billions of dollars by recapitalising western banks. Such losses, and the rapid fall in the US currency, increase the risk that foreign investors will lose their appetite for dollar assets. Those losses are dwarfed, however, by those that central banks are making on their dollar reserve assets after repeated cuts in US interest rates Rejection of dollar assets is dangerous for the US.
A short-run risk is that US companies lose an advantage in international commerce: the willingness of their trading partners to price in dollars and so bear all of the currency risk. April 2 - Financial Times Richard Lapper : "Migrant workers are choosing to move to Europe, Australia or Canada instead of the US in order to protect the purchasing power of the money they send home to their families, according to one of the world's leading experts on remittances.
The shift is a result of sharp falls in the value of the US dollar against other international currencies Mr Ratha said the trend was especially notable among skilled workers, such as doctors, nurses and information technology specialists. The dollar index rallied 0. For the week on the upside, the Brazilian real increased 3. On the downside, the Japanese yen declined 1. Corn futures for May delivery rose 4. April 4 - Financial Times Javier Blas : "Rising food prices could spread social unrest across Africa after triggering riots in Niger, Senegal, Cameroon and Burkina Faso, African ministers and senior agriculture diplomats have warned.
Kanayo Nwanze, the vice-president of the United Nations' International Fund for Agriculture, told a conference in Ethiopia that food riots could become a common feature, particularly after the price of rice has doubled in three months. April 2 - Financial Times Alan Beattie : "The rush across the developing world to stop food leaving the region is a perfect example of the old adage: be careful what you wish for.
For years, governments of poor countries, and their champions in the rich world's development campaigns such as Oxfam, have been complaining bitterly that farm-gate prices have been driven down by overproduction and dumping by US and European farmers. Now, food prices are rising. But the governments involved, rather than celebrating, are scrambling to stop their farmers benefiting too much at the expense of their urban consumers.
In country after country, angry city-dwellers have poured on to the streets complaining about the unaffordability of food. Mexico City has witnessed 'tortilla riots' because of the high price of maize, and thousands of Indonesians have protested over shortages of soy beans.
The problems are particularly salient with basic grains such as rice and wheat that provide the staple food for many developing countries but in which there is a big international market where farmers can seek out the highest price. April 2 - Financial Times Alan Beattie : "Governments across the developing world are scrambling to boost farm imports and restrict exports in an attempt to forestall rising food prices and social unrest. The moves mark a rapid shift away from protecting farmers, who are generally the beneficiaries of food import tariffs, towards cushioning consumers from food shortages and rising prices.
Gold declined 1. May Copper rose 3. April Gasoline gained 1. May Wheat dipped 1. The CRB index added 0. April 2 - Bloomberg Dune Lawrence : "Chinese consumers, facing the fastest inflation in 11 years, are finding that the rising cost of living has reached into the afterlife as buying a graveyard plot becomes more expensive than a home. China Daily reported today. Land scarcity, real-estate speculation and rapid urbanization are fueling soaring prices for graveyard plots as an increasingly affluent population seeks to provide deceased loved ones with a more lavish send-off.
March 30 - Bloomberg William Bi : "Pork prices in China, the world's biggest producer and consumer of the meat, may stay at the current near-record high levels for another year, Shanghai JC Intelligence Co. Higher costs of feed and piglets will slow herd expansion by farmers China's wholesale pork prices almost doubled in the past year after diseases and the worst snowstorms in decades in southern China killed thousands of hogs.
High meat costs thwart government efforts to maintain social stability and ease the fastest inflation in over a decade. It's a throwback to Chinese history, going back 2, years. April 1 - Bloomberg Nipa Piboontanasawat : "China's manufacturing activity surged last month after the end of disruptions from the worst snowstorms in half a century, two surveys showed.
April 4 - Bloomberg Kartik Goyal : "India's inflation accelerated to the fastest pace in more than three years, underscoring a threat from rising food prices April 4 - Bloomberg Jean Chua : "Indian Trade Minister Kamal Nath said the government will take the 'strongest possible measures' against hoarding of food, steel and cement to contain inflation March 31 - Bloomberg Kartik Goyal : "Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will chair an emergency cabinet meeting on prices of steel, wheat and other essential goods as inflation at a month high threatens the government's bid for re-election.
The cabinet will also discuss cement, edible oils and food articles including rice tonight, Trade Minister Kamal Nath said. The government, willing to settle for slower growth to check prices, has cut import duties on food and is considering other fiscal measures to rein in inflation.
Bonds headed for their biggest monthly loss since June April 1 - Bloomberg Kartik Goyal : "India's exports of gems, clothes and other manufactured products grew April 3 - Financial Times: "Faced with the prospect of street riots, it is no wonder emerging market governments are opting to shoulder some of the burden of more expensive food.
From India to Egypt, governments are slashing import tariffs on food and curbing exports, as well as cranking up subsidies. Longer term, however, the side effects of this largesse are ugly. Forgoing revenues and footing the bill for subsidies takes a toll on national budgets. In the Philippines Yap : "Philippine inflation accelerated at the fastest pace in 20 months in March as food and fuel prices surged Consumer prices increased 6.
April 1 - Bloomberg Aloysius Unditu and Arijit Ghosh : "Indonesia's inflation accelerated at the fastest pace in 18 months in March as food and energy prices rose, reducing room for the central bank to cut interest rates to boost economic growth. Consumer prices increased 8. April 2 - Bloomberg Jennifer Ryan : "British customer-owned lenders approved fewer loans for house purchase in February, a report by the Building Societies Association said.
March 31 - Bloomberg Fergal O'Brien : "European inflation accelerated to the fastest pace in almost 16 years, making it harder for the European Central Bank to cut interest rates as a global credit squeeze saps confidence among executives and consumers. Consumer-price inflation in the euro area accelerated to 3.
The ECB is refusing to follow the U. Federal Reserve and reduce interest rates in response to a global crisis as food and energy prices fuel inflation. April 4 - Bloomberg Joshua Gallu : "Swiss inflation accelerated more than expected in March to the fastest pace in more than 14 years as prices for energy and food climbed to records.
The inflation rate rose to 2. That's the highest level since October March 31 - Bloomberg Joshua Gallu : "Switzerland's current account surplus widened last year as global growth and a weaker franc fueled demand for exports, the central bank said. The surplus in the current account March 31 - Bloomberg Flavia Krause-Jackson : "Italy's inflation rate in March rose to the highest in more than 11 years Consumer prices calculated by European Union standards rose 3.
March 31 - Bloomberg Jacob Greber : "An index measuring Australian inflation held at the fastest annual pace in almost two years in March, reinforcing the central bank's decision to increase borrowing costs to the highest in 12 years. April 3 - Bloomberg Hugh Son : "Consumers fell behind on car, credit-card and home-equity loans at the highest level in 15 years during the fourth quarter, another sign the U.
Payments at least 30 days past due increased across all eight categories of loans tracked, the Washington-based group said today in a statement. Late loans climbed 21 basis points to 2. The more than 90, bankruptcy filings in March were the highest since insolvency laws became more restrictive in October From January through March, some 13, businesses filed for bankruptcy The pace for businesses exceeds the growth rate of consumer bankruptcy filings, which have climbed to the highest level in more than two years.
April 2 - Associated Press: "Wachovia Corp. WB is considering ending its infamous Pick-A-Payment mortgage loans in 17 California counties that have been hit hard by falling home prices and rising foreclosures. April 3 - Bloomberg Kathleen M. Howley : "Home prices declined in 21 U. Radar Logic Inc The median price of single-family existing home dropped 8. That leads to further declines in real estate values. April 2 - Financial Times Paul J Davies : "The financial instrument CDOs that was one of the biggest drivers of the explosive growth of mortgage-related debt markets in recent years faces near certain extinction The complex debt securities used to repackage the less attractive parts of asset-backed bonds are likely to disappear entirely as a result of the collapse of the credit market bubble, according to a report from the Bank for International Settlements.
March 31 - Bloomberg Josh P. Hamilton and Erik Holm : "Defaults on privately insured U. Insured borrowers falling more than 60 days late on payments rose to 60, last month April 2 - Bloomberg Sharon L. Lynch : "Manhattan apartment sales plunged the most in 18 years last quarter as buyers faced the prospect of a recession and job cuts at Wall Street securities firms.
The median price of a Manhattan co-operative apartment or condominium increased March 31 - Bloomberg Sharon L. Lynch : "New York City's residential real estate market is showing the first signs of fallout as U. Manhattan apartment sales fell in January and February from a year earlier and new properties came to the market at the fastest pace since at least Transactions slid 6.
In a sign that falling prices and home sales gluts are no longer limited to the nation's declining rust-belt cities or bubble markets, prices for gilt-edged properties in East Hampton and Southampton have fallen sharply. The Long Island resort towns, among the wealthiest and most well-connected in the US, experienced a boom between and when home values quadrupled.
The three-month running median sales price of single-family homes in the two towns fell April 3 - Bloomberg Peter S. Green and Hui-yong Yu : "The vacancy rate for U. The vacancy rate rose to The vacancy rate peaked at April 3 - The Wall Street Journal Alex Frangos : "Businesses are pulling back on renting office space, a signal that the economic bad times are hitting landlords and that business hiring is likely to remain weak.
Demand for office space dropped for the first time since the economy emerged from its downturn earlier in the decade April 1 - Dow Jones Dawn Wotapka : "Government agencies and home owners aren't the only ones afraid of the foreclosure surge sweeping the nation.
New home builders are also jittery. For them, foreclosures are a one-two punch. They flood the market with unsold homes selling for a song - further depressing prices and stiffening competition - while ripping buyers from the market.
Lehman Brothers estimates two million foreclosed homes will return to the market in and Reis Inc. April 3 - Financial Times Saskia Scholtes : "April Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and other government-sponsored mortgage companies have become the backbone of the troubled US mortgage market as purely private sources of finance have all but dried up. The increasing role of the GSEs as they are known, reverses years of declining market share Availability of fresh mortgage funding is seen as crucial to provide support for US house prices, which have fallen sharply from their peak against a record pace of foreclosures and the resulting credit squeeze among private lenders.
The FHLBs have pumped hundreds of billions of dollars into the mortgage industry in the form of advances against mortgage collateral. April 4 - Bloomberg Jeremy R. No municipal bonds backed by student loans were sold in the first quarter, the first time that happened in almost 40 years Public lenders from Texas to Pennsylvania to Illinois relied on auction-rate bonds to raise money so they could make or buy student loans.
April 3 - Financial Times James Mackintosh : "Hedge funds are still reeling after banks unexpectedly pulled credit lines and demanded more security against loans, forcing firesales and heavy losses. Now they face a new threat: investors are abandoning them, raising the risk that the funds will have to sell assets at any price to raise the cash to meet withdrawals.
So far redemptions are mainly in out-of-favour sectors such as credit funds, small-cap specialists and event-driven funds, which include activists, along with poor performers unexpectedly hurt by the credit squeeze. But a series of big funds have already been forced to react, restricting withdrawals or restructuring, and more are thought to be considering changes. The other is that the clients take their money away and you can't get enough liquidity [cash] to meet the redemptions.
April 1 - Bloomberg Tom Cahill : "Hedge funds had their worst quarterly performance in almost six years in the first three months of , Hedge Fund Research data showed. The funds dropped 2. That would be the biggest drop in a quarter since a 3.
The problems at Plexus follow disastrous losses by several relative value funds, which had bet on similar trades in government bonds and futures, which went wrong when forced selling by some funds led to unexpected price moves.
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