venerdì 7 ottobre 2011

La scomparsa di un tecnologo umanista e la crisi delle banche

L'Economist di questa settimana dedica la copertina a Steve Jobs, scomparso ieri. Qui potete leggere il necrologio che il settimanale britannico gli ha dedicato.

“Technology alone is not enough,” said Mr Jobs at the end of his speech introducing the iPad 2, in March 2011. “It’s technology married with liberal arts, married with humanities, that yields the results that make our hearts sing.” It was an unusual statement for the head of a technology firm, but it was vintage Steve Jobs.

In copertina si nota il riferimento alla crisi dell'euro, delle banche e al rischio di contagio: a questo tema l'Economist dedica numerosi articoli. La crisi del debito dei PIIGS sta mettendo a dura prova la fiducia nel sistema bancario con il crescente timore di un congelamento del mercato del debito denominato in euro. 

Institutional bondholders such as pension funds and insurers have refused to buy unsecured European bank debt in any meaningful quantities since early summer, and balk entirely at durations longer than two years. “There are a lot of banks that would be willing to give away assets if they could, just so they don’t have to fund them,” says one investment banker. Bank X is trimming euro assets, accelerating plans to cut the size of its balance-sheet. Other lenders are doing the same. That risks driving down asset prices, forcing lots of banks to mark down equivalent assets and erode capital. Deleveraging also means a reduction in lending activity.

L'effetto sui mercati azionari è evidente, particolarmente sui titoli bancari. Più sorprendente è come sia stato rapido il contagio dalle banche europee a quelle americane. 

American banks are not as directly exposed to the debt crisis as European lenders, many of which are stuffed to the gills with the bonds of their own governments. But uncertainties about where exactly the exposures they have lie prompted some wild movements this week in US bank shares and in the price of credit-default swaps (CDS), a type of insurance against default. Early on October 4th CDS spreads on Morgan Stanley bonds reached a three-year high. Spreads tightened later in the week, but the price of taking out insurance contracts on American banks is heading back towards territory last seen in 2009 (see chart 2).
That may reflect banks’ earnings prospects more than a genuine fear of failure. “Nobody wants to be long CDS on any of the brokers going into the earnings meat-grinder for [the third quarter],” says Chris Whalen of Institutional Risk Analytics, who sees “no risk of failure” for Morgan Stanley or Goldman Sachs. A difficult economic climate means non-performing loans will probably rise. And the wave of attacks on the banks, whether through lawsuits or legislation, is unrelenting.(...)
 “If Armageddon doesn’t happen, the stocks are cheap. It’s a big if.”

Se volete approfondire l'analisi delle banche U.S.A. potete dare un'occhiata al rapporto di Goldman Sachs che vi riproduco qui sotto, grazie a

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