Warning: Tossing Russian Banks From the International System Could Backfire

Link: https://www.ai-cio.com/news/warning-tossing-russian-banks-from-the-international-system-could-backfire/

Excerpt:

The decision to boot Russian lenders from the global bank messaging system as punishment for its invasion of Ukraine is a very bad idea that could boomerang and hurt the West, Credit Suisse admonishes.

“Exclusions from SWIFT will lead to missed payments and giant overdrafts similar to the missed payments and giant overdrafts that we saw in March 2020,” wrote Credit Suisse strategist Zoltan Pozsar, in a research note.

….

“Exclusions from SWIFT will lead to missed payments everywhere,” Pozsar wrote. Two years ago, “the virus froze the flow of goods and services that led to missed payments.” Aside from the financial panic at the outset of the pandemic, the world ran into a similar problem in 2008, when Lehman Brothers collapsed, he said. 

 Pozsar wrote: “Banks’ inability to make payments due to their exclusion from SWIFT is the same as Lehman’s inability to make payments due to its clearing bank’s unwillingness to send payments on its behalf. History does not repeat itself, but it rhymes.”

Author(s): Larry Light

Publication Date: 28 Feb 2022

Publication Site: ai-CIO

No Ordinary Panic – Bank Run in Russia

Link: https://www.city-journal.org/russian-bank-run-is-no-ordinary-panic

Excerpt:

The war in Ukraine and subsequent international sanctions have triggered a bank run in Russia. But this is no ordinary run—it may become a run on the central bank itself, one that holds important lessons for introducing central bank digital currencies.

Reports show Russians lining up at ATMs to withdraw their cash. For now, the run is largely driven by fears of withdrawal limits and the anticipation that credit cards and electronic means of payments will cease to function. If that happens, cash at hand is the better alternative. For that scenario, central banks know what to do: provide solvent banks with plenty of liquidity against good collateral, as Walter Bagehot recommended.

But will that be all? As Western countries freeze the Russian central bank’s reserves and limit the ability of banks to transact internationally, the exchange rate of the ruble has collapsed, falling by more than 40 percent. Prices for ordinary goods may begin to rise, perhaps dramatically so. If that happens, then rubles would no longer be a good store of value. Russians may seek to convert them into foreign currency, but that’s hard to do with the current sanctions. Consequently, they may start to hoard goods instead, dumping their cash as they go along. The situation would no longer be a run on specific goods, but a run away from fiat money and toward goods—a run, in other words, on the central bank.

Author(s): Linda Schilling, Jesús Fernández-Villaverde, Harald Uhlig

Publication Date: 7 Mar 2022

Publication Site: City Journal

Comptroller asks for upgrade to Illinois’ worst-in-nation credit

Link:https://www.thecentersquare.com/illinois/comptroller-asks-for-upgrade-to-illinois-worst-in-nation-credit/article_464a70c6-8862-11ec-b879-afe32c50f8c6.html utm_term=0_3386e99c24-8d6a8659cc-71461060

Excerpt:

Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza is asking the credit ratings agencies to upgrade Illinois’ worst-in-the-nation status.

S&P Global has Illinois at BBB. Moody’s has the state at Baa2. That’s after upgrades from the agencies last year. Fitch has Illinois at BBB-.

“My office is doing everything possible to manage the current backlog of bills and address Illinois’ finances head-on,” Mendoza said in a letter to the agencies that her office announced Monday. “The Illinois Office of Comptroller urges you to consider these positive factors and progress made in strengthening Illinois’ financial position when evaluating Illinois’ creditworthiness.”

Mendoza said in the letter she has paid back recent borrowing from a federal program. Illinois was the only state to borrow from the Federal Reserve’s Municipal Liquidity Fund for a total of $2.6 billion.

Author(s): Greg Bishop

Publication Date: 8 Feb 2022

Publication Site: The Center Square

Investors Sour on Muni Funds

Link:https://www.wsj.com/articles/investors-sour-on-muni-funds-11643568253

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Excerpt:

Investors pulled $1.4 billion from municipal-bond funds in the week ended last Wednesday, the biggest weekly outflow since the early days of the pandemic, according to Refinitiv Lipper.

Municipal-bond yields, which rise as prices fall, climbed last week after the Federal Reserve signaled it would begin steadily raising interest rates in mid-March, reducing the appeal of outstanding debt. Yields on the highest-rated state and local bonds jumped to 1.55% Monday from 1.34% last Tuesday, according to Refinitiv MMD.

Returns on the S&P Municipal Bond Index have fallen to minus 2.33% this year through Jan. 28, counting price changes and interest payments, the lowest year-to-date returns in at least 16 years.

Author(s): Heather Gillers

Publication Date: 31 Jan 2022

Publication Site: WSJ

Credit FAQ: Understanding S&P Global Ratings’ Request For Comment On Proposed Changes To Its Insurer Risk-Based Capital Adequacy Methodology

Link:https://www.spglobal.com/ratings/en/research/articles/211206-credit-faq-understanding-s-p-global-ratings-request-for-comment-on-proposed-changes-to-its-insurer-risk-bas-12183007

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Excerpt:

The main reasons for the proposed changes to our criteria include:

Incorporating recent data and experience since our last update of the insurance capital model criteria;

Enhancing global consistency in our risk-based capital (RBC) analysis;

Increasing risk differentiation in capital requirements where relevant and material to our analysis, as well as reducing complexity where it does not add analytical value;

Improving the transparency and usability of our methodology, such as with our proposal to supersede 10 related criteria articles; and

Supporting our ability to respond to changes in macroeconomic and market conditions by introducing sector and industry variables.

A list of changes to our proposed criteria appears in the RFC and in the appendix of this article.

Author(s):

Simon Ashworth, Ali Karakuyu, Carmi Margalit, Eunice Tan, Sebastian Dany, Olivier J Karusisi,	Ron A Joas, Mark Button

Publication Date: 6 Dec 2021

Publication Site: Standard & Poors

Growth in Private Ratings Among U.S. Insurer Bond Investments and
Credit Rating Differences

Link:https://content.naic.org/sites/default/files/capital-markets-special-reports-PLR-Rating-Differences.pdf

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Excerpt:

The number of privately rated securities reported by U.S. insurance companies totaled 5,580 at
year-end 2021, an increase from 4,231 in 2020 and 2,850 in 2019.
• Small credit rating providers (CRPs) to the NAIC, such as Egan-Jones, DBRS Morningstar, and the
Kroll Bond Rating Agency LLC (KBRA), produced a dominant share of the private letter ratings
(PLRs), accounting for almost 83% of U.S. insurers’ privately rated securities as of Dec. 31, 2021.
• Designations based on PLRs averaged 2.375 notches higher than designations assigned by the
NAIC Securities Valuation Office (SVO) according to data from 2019 through Q3 2021.
• Based on the credit rating analysis conducted by the SVO, the use of PLRs can result in lower
risk-based capital (RBC) charges and potentially lead to the undercapitalization of insurance
companies.
• Regulatory oversight of nationally recognized statistical rating organizations (NRSROs) does not
result in uniform ratings across the NAIC’s CRPs.
• Ten U.S. insurer groups accounted for 55% of the industry’s exposure to privately rated
securities at year-end 2020.
• No significant issuer concentrations of privately rated securities were noted.

Author(s): Jennifer Johnson, Michele Wong, and Linda Phelps

Publication Date:21 Jan 2022

Publication Site: NAIC Capital Markets Special Bureau

Puerto Rico Released From Bankruptcy as Economic Problems Persist

Link:https://www.wsj.com/articles/puerto-rico-released-from-bankruptcy-as-economic-problems-persist-11642537090

Excerpt:

Puerto Rico received court approval to leave bankruptcy through the largest restructuring of U.S. municipal debt ever, ending years of conflict with creditors as the U.S. territory confronts other stubborn economic problems.

Tuesday’s court ruling approved a write-down of $30.5 billion in public debts built up during an economic decline marked by high joblessness, outward migration and unsustainable borrowing that tipped Puerto Rico into bankruptcy in 2017. The restructuring plan calms tension between Puerto Rico and its Wall Street creditors dating to its debt default, the largest ever on bonds backed by the full faith and credit of a U.S. municipality.

….

The territory entered bankruptcy with $74 billion in bond debt and a $55 billion gap between the pension benefits promised to employees and retirees and the funding set aside to pay for them. Public agencies were beset by cronyism and failed for years to draw up accurate budgets or account for expenses, according to a 2018 investigation commissioned by the board.

Sprawling bureaucracy and a high cost of doing business discouraged investment, especially after the expiration of some corporate tax breaks in 2006 pushed some pharmaceutical and other manufacturers to depart. To make up for a shrinking tax base, officials borrowed to paper over deficits and skimped on pension contributions.

Many residents of Puerto Rico, political leaders, and some investors have called for an independent audit of how the huge debt was built up, according to Judge Swain’s decision.

Author(s): Andrew Scurria and Soma Biswas

Publication Date: 18 Jan 2022

Publication Site: WSJ

2022 Predictions

Link: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/2022-predictions-max-rudolph/

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Excerpt:

Regional conflicts are heating up around the world. Resource needs will accelerate the trend. Fresh water in the Himalayas provide multiple countries who have nuclear arsenals. Oil and rare earth metals could also trigger a war. Climatic events are happening more often, so the cost takes money away from solutions while making the goals seem more obvious.

….

Resource depletion has no recommended debit treatment from accountants, but attribution analysis is going to do the work after the fact and charge companies for their past practices through the court system. I assume this is how the asbestos risk played out but I will need to learn more about similar historical events as these events play out. How should this enter your thought process as an investor? In 2021 I wrote 4 papers about climate; Climate System, Integrated Assessment Models, Impact of Climate Change on Investors and Municipalities and Climate Change. They are part of the SOA’s Environmental Risk Series. The impact of climate on investors will continue to evolve for many years. One topic of interest to me is how TCFD (disclosures) will play out – we could see “bad” investments like oil companies, gun makers and cigarette companies become privately owned. This would make it harder to apply peer pressure so is an important reminder to be careful what you wish for!

Author(s): Max Rudolph

Publication Date: 16 Jan 2022

Publication Site: LinkedIn

Chicago school district finds buyers after offering higher yields

Link: https://fixedincome.fidelity.com/ftgw/fi/FINewsArticle?id=202201141507SM______BNDBUYER_0000017e-59c7-de0b-a77f-dbef44d30001_110.1#new_tab

Excerpt:

Chicago Public Schools’ $872 million of junk-rated paper met with a more fickle high-yield audience this week, underscoring the district?s vulnerability to market volatility even as it inches closer to investment grade status.

At attractive spreads that offered a healthy yield kick with many maturities offering 4% coupons, the bonds were 2.2 times oversubscribed, CPS said in a statement. More than 40 institutional investors placed orders including some in excess of $150 million each.

The district will pay a true interest cost of 3.51% that ranks among the lowest paid by the Chicago Board of Education over the last two decades. The sale provides $500 million of new money for capital projects and the remainder refunds 2011 bonds.

Author(s): Yvette Shields

Publication Date: 14 Jan 2022

Publication Site: Fidelity Fixed Income

In Absolute and Percentage Terms, Consumer Credit Jumps the Most Ever

Link:https://mishtalk.com/economics/in-absolute-and-percentage-terms-consumer-credit-jumps-the-most-ever

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Excerpt:

The monthly credit increase of $39.99 billion was the biggest jump ever. 

Revolving credit surged by $19.84 billion, the most ever.

The month-over-month percentages rose by the most ever.

New outstanding total in nonrevolving credit.

Author(s): Mike Shedlock

Publication Date: 8 Jan 2022

Publication Site: Mish Talk

Judge narrows SEC bond rating lawsuit against Morningstar

Link: https://www.businessinsurance.com/article/20220106/NEWS06/912347036/Judge-narrows-SEC-bond-rating-lawsuit-against-Morningstar,-SEC-v-Morningstar-Cre

Excerpt:

A U.S. judge on Wednesday narrowed but refused to dismiss a Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit accusing Morningstar Inc. of letting analysts adjust credit rating models for about $30 billion of mortgage securities, resulting in lower payouts to investors.

U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams in Manhattan said the SEC plausibly alleged that Morningstar Credit Ratings failed to provide users with a general understanding of its methodology for rating commercial mortgage-backed securities and lacked effective internal controls over its ratings process.

Author(s): Reuters

Publication Date: 6 Jan 2022

Publication Site: Business Insurance

Year-End 2021 Capital Markets Wrap-Up

Link:https://content.naic.org/sites/default/files/capital-markets-special-report-YE%202021%20wrap%20up.pdf

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Excerpt:

The U.S. economy has made a solid recovery as COVID-19 vaccinations were made increasingly
available, social distancing began to ease, and businesses gradually reopened.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF), among other forecasters, expects the U.S. economy to
grow by about 6% in 2021, after contracting about 3.4% in 2020.
• Inflation reached a 39-year high of 6.8% in November following a strong rebound from the COVID19-induced recession.
• The ‘stronger for longer’ inflation rates prompted the Federal Reserve to accelerate the tapering
of its asset purchases and to suggest the likelihood of three rate hikes in 2022.
• The 10-year U.S. government bond yield has generally ranged between 1.3% and 1.7% in 2021,
increasing from less than 1% in 2020, due in part to fiscal stimulus aiding in economic recovery.
• Credit spreads have been muted in 2021 given robust global economic growth, favorable funding
conditions, and overall solid corporate performance despite higher costs and supply disruptions.
• Global stocks have achieved relatively high returns; in the U.S., the Standard & Poor’s (S&P) 500
posted seven record closing highs in November alone.
• The price of oil reached a seven-year high of $85 per barrel in 2021 as demand for oil normalized
while the global supply market tightened.

Author(s): : Jennifer Johnson and Michele Wong

Publication Date: 22 Dec 2021

Publication Site: NAIC Capital Markets Bureau Special Reports