25 April 2008

Economics Update

The dollar is doing better now, $1.5613:€1.0000, as I type this, which is about 3% stronger than when it was above $1.60.

I put down most of the movement over the past week to people betting on what the Fed will do in interest rates, and the consensus that it will not cut.

Oil, however, just went up again, as did gasoline, because of reports of a pipeline attack in Nigeria. The reality is that supplies are so tight that even a minor disruption causes a minor panic.

The New York Times has discovered that the housing crisis has moved to tony Greenwich, CT. And so they cover it with wringing hands, because it interests their readers.

For the rest of us, the fact that the mosts states are having financial meltdowns, and many are near broke, because of falling tax revenues, are a matter of greater concern.

Also, Consumer confidence is at a 26 year low. That's as in 1982, when we were at 10% unemployment, and so consumers are scaling way back on spending.

In a sign of the apocalypse, Moody’s is downgrading some more of the Alt-A mortgage backed slop. Who knew that a ratings firm would actually do its job.

It's been a busy day for AMBAC, the monoline insurer, with a report that it may need to seek more capital after posting a $1.66 billion dollar loss for the quarter. Further confirming this report is the fact that their interim CEO is saying that there are no liquidity issues and that its ratings are solid.

S&P is back stopping Ambac on this explicitly stating that the loss will not lead to a downgrade.

Of course if the ratings agencies, or for that matter the financial markets, were at all honest, most the monoliners would already be rated as junk.


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