Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Treasury Saving $10 Billion for Big Banks to Modify Loans

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Wow. Just remember this story as the "better than expected" numbers hit in the quarters to come in banking. JPMorgan (JPM) reports tomorrow AM and I've lifted a lot of short exposure ahead of it; I now fear banks. In fact the whole market rallies on anything so it's reaching the point where it is ludicrous to short - I'll probably cut back even more tomorrow on the "scheduled rally" off "better than expected" (green shoots) out of JPMorgan and then Google (GOOG). Then Friday after the "better than expected" numbers out of GE (GE) we can race some more. Apparently there is no valuation or PE ratio that will be too high in the green shoot economy.

Since I have such a high cash position I will just use that as my hedge, since I've lost money day after day, after week after week- the past three weeks attempting to short things. It was fun and games for the first 5-6 days but now it's starting to seriously hamper performance. So until the tide turns, and bad news actually means stocks go down for more than 4 hours, I'll be cutting back and just touting green shoots on a regular basis even if it means American Express (AXP) at nearly 40x earnings is still way too cheap and I should be buying.

Until then, I want to show you how your tax dollars will help banks continue to do "better than expected". Momma, have your kids grow up to be bankers. We changed the tax code for them, we give them FDIC backed loans, we pushed Fed rates down to zero, we give them TARP money and now bonuses for doing things they should be doing on their own - like modifying mortgages that they see some hope in saving.
  • Six large U.S. banks could pocket nearly $10 billion in federal subsidies if they modify troubled home loans and are able to save homeowners from foreclosure, the Treasury Department said on Wednesday.
  • The mortgage specialty arms of Citigroup (C), JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) would each earn over $2 billion for modifications that have long-lasting success, according to the Treasury's formula.
  • The money is available through a $50 billion program to encourage mortgage servicers to ease the terms on troubled loans. Many more mortgage servicers will be eligible for the subsidies, the Treasury said.
I remember seeing this when the Obama mortgage modification plan was announced, but did not put two and two together.

I will stand and clap my hands tomorrow as JP Morgan's Dimon "navigates the bank through incredibly difficult waters". Yep... very very difficult.


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