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Archive for August, 2009

Here is realitycheck from CNBC.

“The US banking system will lose some 1,000 institutions over the next two years, said John Kanas, whose private equity firm bought BankUnited of Florida in May.

“We’ve already lost 81 this year,” Kanas told CNBC. “The numbers are climbing every day. Many of these institutions nobody’s ever heard of. They’re smaller companies.”

Failed banks tend to be smaller and private, which exacerbates the problem for small business borrowers, said Kanas, who became CEO of BankUnited when his firm bought the bank and is the former chairman and CEO of North Fork bank.

“Government money has propped up the very large institutions as a result of the stimulus package,” he said. “There’s really very little lifeline available for the small institutions that are suffering.”

Read the full article here.

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Ponzi schemes have a way of ending unhappily.

Here is a article from Forbes.

“In the last few months the world economy has been saved from a near-depression. That feat has been achieved by a range of extraordinary government stimulus measures: In the U.S. and in China, and to a lesser extent in Europe, Japan and other countries, governments have pumped liquidity, slashed policy rates, cut taxes, primed demand and ring-fenced and back-stopped the financial system. All of this has worked, but at a cost. Governments have been spending and borrowing like never before. The question now is: how do they stop?

This is not a simple problem. Restore normality too soon and the risk is that a weak recovery will double dip into a second and deeper recession. Restore it too late and inflation will already be ingrained.

Consider how much has been committed and how much has been spent. In the U.S. alone, when you add up the government’s liquidity support measures, its re-capitalizations of banks, its guarantees of bad assets, its extension of deposit insurance and guarantees of unsecured bank debt, at least $12 trillion has been committed, and a quarter of that has already been spent. Along with the rise in spending there has also been a very large fiscal stimulus, pushing the federal budget deficit to 13% of gross domestic product this year. (Next year, on current plans, the deficit will fall back but still amount to 10% of GDP.)

Not all the measures adopted appear on the budgetary bottom line. As well as monetary easing and fiscal stimulus, the U.S. and other governments have resorted to unconventional measures to ease monetary conditions. In the U.S., Japan and the U.K., real interest rates have been pushed down to zero, and governments have resorted to buying long-dated securities, the goal of which–only partially achieved–was to hold down long-term interest rates.”

Read the full article here.

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Here is a recent article from CNN.

“If you have been an investor in technology IPOs in recent months you’ve done well.

Starting in April, and really gathering momentum this summer, there has been a slew of tech companies that leapt through the public market window including Changyou (CYOU), Rosetta Stone (RST), OpenTable (OPEN), and most recently Emdeon (EM).”

The article continues,

“Right now in Silicon Valley, investment bankers are busy making the rounds of promising portfolio companies trying to convince them of the wisdom of an IPO. There is always the question of what kind of company can – or should – go public. During the last wave of tech IPOs, after the dotcom bust, the rule of thumb was that firms with $100 million in revenue and profitability were IPO candidates.

Investment bankers on the prowl in Silicon Valley

Now, according to one prominent venture capitalist who asked to remain anonymous, investment bankers are telling him, “If a company can show revenue of $15 million per quarter, a good business model – and if not profitability, a path to profits – they can deliver an oversubscribed offering.” (One wonders wonder whether these simply are investment bankers who have had nothing to do for the last 12 months, trying to make their bonus figures.)

Venture capitalists have not had much to be happy about, either. It wasn’t just IPOs, but acquisitions that came to a screeching halt during the recession. Both of these groups desperately want the IPO window to stay open, and so far it is.”

And concludes,

“In Google’s day it was bulge-bracket investment banks – Morgan Stanley (MS), CSFB (CS), Goldman (GS), Lehman Bros or no one. The economics of the banks (characterized as going “down-market” to even do $500 million IPOs) required bigger deals. Today’s deals, with their much more modest size, are better tailored for the boutique banks – Thomas Weisel Partners, Jeffries, JMP Securities, Piper Jaffray, and the like. These are the banks pounding the streets in Silicon Valley the hardest.

Could it all end badly? Of course, and usually it does when the rush toward IPOs at some point sends half-baked companies into the public markets and they tank. But between now and then we are likely to see a group of very high quality tech companies look to go public – think Greenplum, LinkedIn, Pacific Biosciences and Zynga among many others.

For those investors with the stomach, it might not get much better.”

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Although a few days old, I found this article for todays post. It´s old news that Yahoo and Microsoft is partnering up – but what just hit me is that the forced antitrust review needed for the advertising deal might just be the precursor for a forthcoming merger.

Here is a Associated Press piece by way of The Eagle.

“WASHINGTON — Yahoo Inc. and Microsoft Corp. hope that by joining forces, they can tilt the balance of power in Internet search away from Google Inc. First, however, Yahoo and Microsoft have to convince regulators that their plan won’t hurt online advertisers and consumers.

As the U.S. Justice Department reviews the proposed partnership, approval figures hinge on this question: Will the online ad market be healthier if Google’s dominance is challenged by a single, more muscular rival instead of two scrawnier foes?

The first step toward getting an answer came this month when Microsoft and Yahoo filed paperwork with federal regulators to comply with the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act, an antitrust law governing mergers and alliances between competitors. The Justice Department has until early September to approve the agreement or — as is likely in this case — request additional information.

European regulators are also expected to review the deal. Microsoft and Yahoo are bracing for the probes to extend into early next year, and the outcome is far from certain.

Just nine months ago, Google abandoned its own proposed partnership with Yahoo to avoid a showdown with the government, which had concluded that Google was already too powerful in the lucrative market for selling ads alongside search results.

Google had hoped to extend its reach even further by selling ads next to some of Yahoo’s search results, and in the process, keep Yahoo out of Microsoft’s clutches. Microsoft aggressively lobbied against the partnership.

With the Google-Yahoo inquiry behind them, U.S. antitrust regulators are likely to enter this examination with a clearer definition of the Internet search landscape and a better understanding of how it affects the steadily growing online advertising market.”

Read the full article here.

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Here is a good Financial Time article.

“The global economy is starting to bottom out from the worst recession and financial crisis since the Great Depression. In the fourth quarter of 2008 and first quarter of 2009 the rate at which most advanced economies were contracting was similar to the gross domestic product free-fall in the early stage of the Depression. Then, late last year, policymakers who had been behind the curve finally started to use most of the weapons in their arsenal.

That effort worked and the free-fall of economic activity eased. There are three open questions now on the outlook. When will the global recession be over? What will be the shape of the economic recovery? Are there risks of a relapse?”

Read the full article here. (Registration required)

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Who among you thinks that this could possibly have a happy ending?

Here is an article from Fox News.

“So much for the crystal ball.

In a report next week, the Obama administration will increase its 10-year budget deficit projection to roughly $9 trillion, an increase of about $2 trillion from the previous projection, an official at the Office of Management and Budget told FOX News.

The 2010-2019 cumulative deficit projection replaces the administration’s previous estimate of $7.108 trillion.

The official said the prolonged recession and the ensuing decline in federal revenue prompted a recalibration of the deficit numbers. The numbers also reflect a projection that post-recession economic growth may not be as robust as after previous recessions, the official said.

Budget projections are rarely static. As economic conditions change, so do the estimates.

The White House also plans to announce this year’s federal deficit will end up about $262 billion less than officials had predicted earlier this year — in part because the administration has provided less aid than expected to Wall Street.

The federal deficit this year will total $1.58 trillion, a senior White House official told the Associated Press late Wednesday. That’s three times more red ink than last year. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the report before its release next Tuesday while President Obama will be on vacation in Massachusetts.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is expected to release its mid-session review the same day. It estimated in June a one-year deficit of $1.825 trillion.

The report for the budget year that ends Sept. 30 also will predict Washington to spend $3.653 trillion this year, the official said. Revenue, however, would reach only $2.074 trillion.

“Whether it’s $1.6 trillion or $1.8 trillion, it’s pretty bad,” said Robert Bixby, executive director of the bipartisan fiscal watchdog The Concord Coalition. “I hope no one tries to spin that as good news.”

The midsummer report was supposed to have been released in mid-July, but was delayed, leading to speculation the White House was delaying the bad news until Congress left on an August recess. Other administrations delayed releasing their versions of this report during their first year.

Obama’s budget had included a $250 billion placeholder for a second bailout of the nation’s troubled banks, but he did not ask Congress for it amid concerns the administration was spending too heavily. The administration also had anticipated more banks failing, but the survival of most banks saved billions for Washington.”

Read the full article here.

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Here is an excellent article from the VC dispatch at Wall Street Journal.

“Though demand for mobile phones is at an all-time high, Sequoia Communications Inc., a developer of components for the devices, has found itself unable to raise additional venture capital and is closing its doors, according to an investor.

The San Diego company had raised about $64 million from nine venture firms over several rounds beginning in 2001, VentureWire records show.

Luis Arzubi, a general partner with Tallwood Venture Capital, which participated in three funding rounds for Sequoia, said the company felt the pinch from the world’s economic slowdown, competition from name-brand tech companies and the difficulty of keeping the company’s components in compliance with the rules and protocols of numerous overseas markets.

“The company was running behind its original schedule,” Arzubi said. “Venture capitalists are very cautious, and afraid of throwing good money after bad.”

The company developed a transceiver for mobile phones that worked well, he said, and had signed up customers. Sequoia was about a year away from breaking even when investors pulled the plug, he said.

Transceivers are one of many electronic components that enable wireless communication. They are capable of tuning in, modulating and broadcasting standard cell signals. Transceivers also exist in other electronics and are used to pick up and broadcast other types of signals.

Semiconductor giants such as Qualcomm Inc. and Infineon Technologies AG also build transceivers, and they have more resources to bring to bear on the process, Arzubi said. They also have a diversified line of products, which Sequoia did not.”

Read the fulla article here.

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