Investors avidly awaiting signs that the Federal Reserve is ready to reduce its monthly stimulus may find that the news already has passed them by.» Read More
Goldman Sachs downgraded Microsoft today from Buy to Neutral.
So what’s the big picture over in Redmond? There is much to be glum about when surveying the landscape of Microsoft’s product offerings:
Bing has lost billions. Ditto for Windows Mobile. X-Box has only recently emerged as a profitable platform after years of losses.
But perhaps even more troublesome than losses on specific products is what might be perceived as a failure of vision: Microsoft’s software platforms in rapidly growing markets — such as tablet computing and mobile phones — have failed to ignite the public’s imagination like the iPhone or iPad. And that may be stating the case too kindly: Next to Apple’s product lineup, Microsoft’s products often seem quaint or even clumsy. (For example: Ask your teenage children this: How many of the cool kids in study hall are rocking out to a Zune?)
Goldman Sachs’ CEO Lloyd Blankfein raised the question last week — are clearing houses the new systemic risk to watch? Or, could they be the latest regulatory mess that will send investment houses fleeing to other shores?
Today in Washington, D.C. netnet.com reporter John Carney had a few minutes with the Chairman of the CFTC, Gary Gensler. He asked him if Mr. Blankfein was right — are we about to push all manner of derivatives and swaps onto exchanges and through clearing houses creating a bigger issue in times of financial Armageddon?
When Capitol Hill set out to force derivatives onto exchanges, lawmakers carved out a broad exemption for so-called "end users" — non-financial companies seeking to hedge their exposure to fluctuations in currencies, commitments and interest rates. An ambiguity in the Dodd-Frank financial reforms, however, threatens to undermine the end-user exemption.
The issue is whether the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission \(CFTC\) can impose margin requirements on end-users. The Senate version of financial reform specifically exempted end-users. This exemption was lost on the version that emerged from the House-Senate conference, allegedly because it was redundant to provisions that more broadly carved out end-users from the requirements that derivatives trade on exchanges and pass through clearinghouses.
Halloween may be weeks away, but analysts and research firms are already trying to answer the scary question: Will consumers spend a pretty penny this holiday season... or just a few bucks?
So far, early surveys suggest the grim reaper won't mutilate the retailers' bottom line.
Kantar Retail released its holiday shopping survey last week. The consulting firm says retailers need to use some "promo mojo" to woo shoppers this season. It expects retail sales to increase by 2.5% versus 0.5% during the same time last year. But, Kantar says the period will feel weak compared to the "relatively strong pace of retail sales growth in the first three quarters."
We were curious about how market participants would react to our idea that requiring swaps to trade through exchanges would invite dreaded high frequency traders into the market.
Both on the panels and in conversation outside of the official discussions at the wmbaa.org conference, nearly everyone agrees: that's exactly what's going to happen.
Why do nearly all hotels mistreat conference guests?
Perhaps the most interesting point made in a Goldman Sachs report out this week is contained in its second sentence: “It is axiomatic that the economic backdrop influences investing decisions but the range of client views on growth and margins is unusually broad.”
Let’s try to parse that.
You have to wonder about the ramifications of the mortgage foreclosure problems that have come to light in the last few weeks.
Last week it was widely reported that JP Morgan was suspending foreclosure on 56,000 mortgages due to improperly prepared documents.
This news comes after reports surfaced that GMAC was suspending foreclosure on an undisclosed number of mortgages a week earlier.
In the wake of two large players suspending foreclosure proceedings, doubtless other large financial institutions are now reviewing their own procedures. The probability of procedural flaws at other institutions can only be guessed at — but it certainly seems possible that other overwhelmed lenders, faced with a rising tide of foreclosure volume, may have resorted to similar procedural tactics to expedite their documentation process. Which should lead us to wonder on the foreclosure suspension front: Who’s next?
John Carney is a senior editor for CNBC.com, covering Wall Street and finance and running the NetNet blog.
Jeff Cox is finance editor for CNBC.com.
Lawrence Delevingne is the ‘Big Money’ enterprise reporter for CNBC.com and NetNet.
Stephanie Landsman is one of the producers of CNBC's 5pm ET show "Fast Money."
The unofficial odds are rising that the Fed will announce taper plans at its December meeting.
Three Wall Street trade groups sued the Commodities Futures Trading Commission to stop tough overseas trading guidelines they fear.
Paid in the form of assistance programs, the funds are in effect a subsidy to the banking industry, The Washington Post reported.