Posted by Rick Stine
on March 29, 2011
, Hedge Funds
In my travels around Asia the past couple of weeks, I’ve been meeting with various banks and investors to learn more about the FX market in connection with our big initiative there. Stopped in to see a decent sized U.S. hedge fund and was fascinated by the investment strategy.
Among other tings, these folks invest in convertible bonds issued in local currencies in home countries. They end up with three factors that can affect returns: credit exposure, changes in interest rates and changes in currency values. The manager relayed an interesting anecdote that explained the benefit of such a strategy: the bond and underlying stock hadn’t moved much in price but the currency had to the point it allowed him to convert the bonds into stock and then sell the stock, convert the currency to dollars and make a handsome return. In other words, currency fluctuations in transactions like this can help take an out-of-the-money convertible and all of a sudden bring it in the money.
There is clearly a lot of positioning going on by AT&T to convince the public and U.S. regulators that its proposed acquisition of rival T Mobile from Deutsche Telecom shouldn’t be viewed as anti-competitive. One certainly might think that when two of the top leaders in any industry join forces.
If you check out the AT&T website, already there is a video of CEO Randall Stephensen discussing, among other things, his respect for regulators. There is a brief presentation of the deal that shows how consolidation has not hurt pricing. to the contrary, prices have come down since consolidation has been underway.
Posted by Rick Stine
on March 18, 2011
, Japan Earthquake
Retail investors are often looked on as the unsophisticated types who move slowly and late and rarely have a short-term affect on financial markets. They broke from that mold in Japan, where retail FX traders (known as Mrs. Watanabe) contributed to a surge in the Japanese yen this week when they began to unwind a popular strategy called the carry trade. Many of these investors had shorted the yen and gone long currencies that offer higher yields (the so-called carry trade). Concerned about the effects of the horrible earthquake in Japan on its economy, these investors unwound these trades – meaning they bought the yen en masse and sold the other side of the trade, often the Australian dollar.
Is it possible that the retail investor could move the currency of the world’s third-largest economy this way? Sure thing, because Japanese retail trading of the yen can account for nearly 30% of all trading on any given day.
The Federal Reserve has a committee studying how to improve communications with the public. But change was not in evidence in the latest statement issued today following the rate-setting meeting of the central bank.
In a bid to be more open with investors and the general public, the Fed should adopt a less stilted post-meeting announcement of its rate decision. Sure, each word the Fed utters must be carefully chosen because each word will be subject to over-the-top analysis by market types and analysts. But still, the Fed should indicate it doesn’t live in a cave.
Bill Ford, executive chairman of Ford Motor Co., worries about traffic gridlock on a global basis.
Zhengrong Shi, chairman and chief executive of China’s Suntech Power Holdings, one of the world’s largest solar panel companies, wonders whether “perhaps there’s too much democracy” in the U.S., making it difficult for the nation to adopt a coherent and consistent industrial policy.
“There are no decisions being made,” he said. “It’s like in a company. Sometimes you hear all the voices. The CEO knows what the right decision is and sometimes they just want to bang the table and say, ‘Let’s do it.’”