The Ten Banks Most Exposed to Greek Debt

The words “debt” and “default” are so often uttered in connection with Greece these days that you’d think they were names of Greek gods on par with the likes of Zeus, Athena and Dionysus. But Debt and Default are not almighty beings borne from Greek mythology. They are part of Greece’s tragic present-day reality…

Citigroup Beats, But is it Good?

We knew bank earnings wouldn’t be good. Analysts have cut their estimates
for Citigroup (NYSE:C) several times over the last month,
by an average of about 20%. So maybe it’s a good sign that Citi beat
expectations handily…

S&P, You’ve Got To Be Kidding

Oh Standard & Poor’s, you’ve got to be kidding. Apparently the ratings
agency is still giving Triple-A ratings to securities backed by subprime
loans.

“S&P is poised to provide AAA grades to 59 percent of Springleaf
Mortgage Loan Trust 2011-1, a set of bonds tied to $497 million lent to
homeowners with below-average credit scores and almost no equity in their
properties,”
the article says.

S&P seems to have forgotten that these mortgage-backed securities
defaulted to the point that it nearly brought the world’s financial system
down. Of course, banks held too many of them, and had leveraged them too
much, but S&P was complicit.

But, I guess when you’re getting paid — approximately $1.67 billion in
bond rating fees last year — anything goes.

High Hopes for QE3

I’m a little surprised by how high QE3 expectations
have risen. Given how much flack the Fed took for QE2, and the commodity
inflation it sparked, I expected the market to be opposed to another round
of liquidity-pumping.

But that’s the semi-psychotic nature of the stock market, at times.
Investors might complain about the spending, about the monetary expansion
and the rising commodity prices.

Still, stocks like liquidity, even if it is inflationary, and even if it
creates imbalances and potential bubbles in the economy.

Tech Stock Earnings Indicate Stable Consumer Spending

For the first time in over two weeks, the U.S.
economy is back in focus. First we got 2Q earnings reports from
Dell (Nasdaq:DELL) and Target (NYSE:TGT).
Dell missed revenues slightly and offered a weak revenue forecast.

There was a time when Dell was an important measure of consumer and
corporate spending. (It’s sales mix is roughly 75% consumer and corporate,
25% government.)

And while the company did say the economic environment was challenging,
Dell has also missed important trends, like data storage and tablets. We
have to think some of the weakness in Dell’s numbers are a direct result of
Apple’s (Nasdaq:AAPL) success…