Weil's View on Finance, Afternoon Edition

Jonathan Weil joined Bloomberg News as a columnist in 2007, and his columns on finance and accounting won Best in the Business awards from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers in 2009 and 2010.
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Here's a look at some of what I've been reading this afternoon.

Repo markets shrinking on new bank-capital rules

From Bloomberg News: "The U.S. repurchase, or repo, market where banks and investors borrow and lend Treasuries and other fixed-income securities shrunk to $4.6 trillion daily outstanding last month, down 35 percent from a peak of $7.02 trillion in the first quarter of 2008, based on Federal Reserve data compiled from its 21 primary dealers." New capital regulations aimed at making banks safer are the driving force. One of the effects has been that government-bond markets are becoming less liquid.

The argument for keeping Fannie and Freddie alive

I'm not persuaded, but it's worth a read. Josh Boak of the Fiscal Times argues that killing off the government-backed housing financiers "might also prove to be a devastating mistake." Then again, setting them up as private-public enterprises with privatized profits and socialized losses was a complete disaster.

Meanwhile, you still can't trus t Fannie and Freddie's numbers

The inspector general for the Federal Housing Finance Agency today released a letter that said the companies have been ignoring billions of dollars of loan losses. The agency last year instructed Fannie and Freddie to recognize losses on loans that have been delinquent for more than 180 days, but they're still doing things the old way. While it isn't exactly a surprise to learn their numbers aren't reliable, it's good to get this issue out in the open finally.

Germany profits from the euro crisis?

Germany's government will save 40.9 billion euros ($55 billion) in interest payments in the years 2010 to 2014, Der Spiegel reports, citing figures from the country's finance ministry. The sum represents the difference between actual and budgeted interest payments.

The bullish case for the S&P 500

Jeremy Siegel writes in the Financial Times that corporate earnings are unlikely to fall and that higher price-to-earnings ratios may propel stocks even higher: "It is a historical fact that low inflation and low interest rates translates into higher P/E ratios."

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To contact the author on this story:
Jonathan Weil at jweil16@bloomberg.net