New Concerns: Morgan Stanley, Money Markets

Despite the good news on AIG, futures are trading down this morning, because there are several other issues coming up:

1) Morgan Stanleyis trading down 16 percent, despite several positive analyst comments on their earnings, as traders note that credit spreads are widening.

2) the Reserve's Primary Fund, a money market fund, "broke the buck" (the net asset value of the fund fell below $1) because it owned Lehmanpaper.

Don't these funds just own government bonds? For the most part, yes, but to get a little extra yield many also own other types of (corporate) paper.

Why would they do that? Because money market funds don't compete on price, they compete on yield. By fixing the price at $1 per share, money market funds insure there are no capital gains to be made by investing in a money market fund; there is only income.

Struggle at AIG - A CNBC Special Report
Struggle at AIG - A CNBC Special Report

Breaking below $1 means there have been large losses: in fact, the value of the $785 million of Lehman paper they hold has been written down to zero. The fund has about $64 billion in assets, but the loss is enough so that the net asset value of the fund is now $0.97.

3) the Russian stock and bond market stopped trading for a second day after dropping about 7 percent. Trading was suspended indefinitely in the late morning (Russian time); The Russian government has been providing additional funds to the country's largest banks. KIT Finance, a Russian brokerage firm, said it was trying to find a buyer after it could not meet some of its obligations. The combination of falling commodity prices and Russia's war with Georgia has proven very toxic to the Russian markets.


1) A story nearly as big as AIG has unfolded in the UK, where Lloyds is in merger talks with the UK's largest mortgage lender, HBOS. Lloyds is up 18 percent in pre-open trading here.

2) Some good news: 30-year mortgage rates, at 5.82%, are down three-quarters of a point in the past month.

Mortgage applications were a mixed bag: applications for refinancings soared 88 percent from the previous week, reflecting the lower rates, but applications to purchase a home were only up 2.4 percent, a bit of a disappointment.

3) Nortel down 16 percent pre-open as they lowered their revenue forecasts for 2008, the main issues are currency issues and a slowdown in sales in North America.

New from

- The Dow 30 at a Glance


CNBC's Names in the News:


Goldman Sachs


Questions? Comments?