Weil on Finance, P.M.: Volcker, Volcker, Volcker
Howdy, View fans. To the afternoon linkfest, we go.
The Volcker rule is the new financial-media obsession
Allow me to explain. Anytime you tell a bunch of hungry, competitive, financial-beat reporters that an important document will be released soon -- especially if the government puts a date on it -- there will be a mad scramble to be first with even the most negligible, incremental details about what it says. So now that we know five federal agencies have set Dec. 10 as the date to approve the Volcker rule, get ready for a steady diet of speculation and possibly reliable leaks -- as well as curtain-raisers with no new information at all -- just like we saw for weeks leading up to the Justice Department's unveiling of its recent settlement with JPMorgan Chase & Co. And on that note, here's a story today from the New York Times about the Volcker rule. We still don't know what exactly the rule is going to say.
The bond markets don't seem to like Mel Watt
U.S. government-backed mortgage bonds are on pace to have their first annual losses since 1994. Those would be securities guaranteed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac or Ginnie Mae. Jody Shenn of Bloomberg News writes that "a rule change paving the way for the White House to install U.S. Representative Mel Watt as overseer of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is spurring speculation he'll expand a refinancing program that may reduce returns." Plus, there's the ever-present speculation about tapering asset purchases and rising interest rates. The Federal Reserve, of course, need not worry about showing losses on its books for all the Fannie-Freddie stuff it owns because it doesn't use mark-to-market accounting anyway.
Pick any big story, and there's almost always a Florida angle
Today a federal judge ruled that Detroit is eligible for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection. The Detroit News has a feature about retired Detroit police officers and fire fighters living in Florida. "Oh my, oh my. Everyone is worried. When we think about what could happen, it's scary," said Bill Larsen, 85, who lives in Palm Harbor, near Tampa. "If they take our health insurance? Oh God. Cutting pensions? It's terrible. The city of Detroit was our pride. Honest to goodness. We loved it." You have to feel for him. What's the city supposed to do if it doesn't have the money to pay him what it promised?
Headline of the day (in the stating-the-obvious category)
From Barron's today: "Bill Gross Likes Index Funds, But Likes Pimco Better."
OK, now I'm starting to feel old
Ozzy Osbourne turned 65 today.
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Jonathan Weil at firstname.lastname@example.org