Dec 02

The economic downturn delivered another battering to the UK’s financial services sector yesterday (December 1st), with HSBC and Credit Suisse announcing major cutbacks and the London Scottish Bank collapsing into administration.

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Oct 16


Pedestrians walk past a branch of the UBS bank in Bern, Switzerland, on Thursday, Oct. 2, 2008. Photographer: Adrian Moser/Bloomberg News

Oct. 16 (Bloomberg) — Switzerland gave UBS AG, the European bank with the biggest losses from the credit crisis, a $59.2 billion rescue and pushed Credit Suisse Group AG to raise funds, joining authorities around the world in shoring up banks.

UBS will get 6 billion Swiss francs ($5.2 billion) from the government and put as much as $60 billion of risky assets into a fund backed by the central bank, the Zurich-based company said. Credit Suisse Group AG raised 10 billion francs from investors including Qatar and Tel Aviv-based Koor Industries Ltd.

Switzerland is the last of the world’s financial centers to pour cash into ailing financial institutions after losses on bad debts reached $647 billion globally and credit markets froze. The Swiss government plans to raise deposit guarantees and is ready to back the short- and medium-term interbank loans of the nation’s banks, after countries across Europe took similar measures.

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Jul 15

Related article:Big Traders Dive Into Dark Pools

We can almost hear that ominous “Jaws” theme music in the background and can see that huge dorsal fin as it slices threateningly through the water – knowing full well that the real terror is hidden beneath the water’s surface.

But this time around, it’s not a “Great White” that’s sparking our fears; it’s a well-capitalized and broadly based series of secret stock exchanges known as “Dark Pools of Liquidity,” “Dark Liquidity,” or just “Dark Pools.”

Most investors have never even heard the term – and are truly shocked to discover these “off-the-books” trading networks actually exist.

But to Wall Street insiders looking to anonymously move billions of dollars in stocks, bonds, and other investment instruments, dark pools are de rigueur – especially when you’re an institutional trader who doesn’t want to reveal your intentions or your actions to the “rest” of the market, until after the fact when the orders are “printed.”

And that makes these dark pools of capital highly problematic when it comes transparency: There is literally none in most pools and only limited visibility in others.

Dark Pools: From Trading Haven to Heavyweight

Dark Pools are electronic “crossing networks” that offer institutional investors many of the same benefits associated with making trades on the stock exchanges’ public limit order books – without tipping their hands to others, meaning publicly quoted prices aren’t affected. This is the capital markets’ version of a godsend – especially for traders who desire to move large blocks of shares without the public investors ever knowing.

Some examples of so-called crossing networks include Liquidnet Inc., Pipeline, the Posit unit of Investment Technology Group (ITG), or the SIGMA X unit of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS).

In an era in which “secret” transactions contributed to what’s shaping up to be the largest credit crisis in history, you’d think that any mechanism that allows insiders to trade in complete secrecy and with total anonymity would be scrutinized more closely than a Roger Clemens vitamin shot. But that’s not the case with Dark Pools.

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Mar 14

World central banks unite to ease credit strain

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Reserve and four other central banks on Tuesday teamed up to get hundreds of billions of dollars in fresh funds to cash-starved credit markets, allowing financial firms to use securities backed by home mortgages as collateral for central bank loans.

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Stocks surged, bonds fell and the long-suffering U.S. dollar soared in reaction to the moves, a sign financial markets saw the plan as a step in the right direction to ease a crisis that has threatened world economic growth. The Dow Jones industrials closed nearly 3.6 percent higher.

In the latest effort to ease a credit contraction that has disrupted global finance, the Fed, Bank of Canada, Bank of England, European Central Bank and Swiss National Bank announced a series of aggressive measures to boost liquidity. It was the second time in three months that central banks from around the globe had launched coordinated efforts.

Wall Street economists were quick to call the new lending facility a step in the right direction, but what’s most needed is time for the de-leveraging of billions of dollars in loans globally. Continue reading »

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Mar 14

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Bear Stearns is one of the best-known US Wall Street firms

US bank Bear Stearns has got emergency funding, in a move that raises fears that one of Wall Street’s biggest names is on the verge of collapsing.

JP Morgan Chase will provide the money to Bear Stearns for 28 days with the Federal Reserve of New York’s backing. Continue reading »

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