Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Is it time to start investing in Financials?

There seems to be cautious optimism that the worst of the Credit freeze is over. The federal government (after all) has provided a means for financial companies to off load risky, depressed, and illiquid loan instruments. The simple swap pays market rate for complex wall street created debt securities in the currency of U.S. T-bills. My question is, what percentage of average bank assets are Level 3 (i.e. difficult to price, illiquid derivative instruments)? Bloomberg estimates are in the range of 7-8% of underwriting business. According to recent reports Goldman Sachs (the one investment bank with little Level 3 exposure during the credit crisis) has increased their exposure to these assets by 83% in Q1. I think we can only anticipate this to mean that Goldman went bargain shopping after loan instruments were driven through the floor. But will prices ever return to fundamental values??? The credit quality of these instruments have driven certain investors away indefinetly. I think speculation and market craze has overly depressed financial stocks. Don't get me wrong...they've lost billions, but they've weathered it. Collatoralized loans are not the only product sold on Wall Street....they just happen to be a product kept somewhere near banker's books.

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