Aug 01

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — A bill that would put new limits on speculative trading in energy commodities failed to get the required two-third majority of votes to pass the House on Wednesday.

The vote was 276 to 151. The Commodity Markets Transparency and Accountability Act would boost staffing at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and require the agency to limit the positions of speculators in energy and agricultural commodities.

Most Republicans objected to the bill, preferring to pass legislation to open the outer continental shelf and other off-limits areas to energy exploration. Continue reading »

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Apr 03

According to Bill Gross, a fixed income market guru, the size of the credit default swap market is “$43 trillion, more that half the size of the entire asset base of the global banking system.” If that is not scary enough he goes on to tell is that “total derivatives amount to over $500 trillion, many of them finding their way”………………….well, everywhere.

You are going to be hearing a lot more about these markets in coming weeks and months, which begs the question, why don’t most people even know what they are? And more importantly, why should we care? Continue reading »

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Mar 31

THE SUBPRIME mortgage crisis that pushed homeowners into foreclosure and forced the Federal Reserve to bail out investment banker Bear Stearns has also sent state and local governments across the country scrambling to refinance municipal bonds before they are hit with exorbitant interest rates.At the center of the storm are long-term variable-interest bonds known as “auction-rate securities.” Unlike traditional fixed-rate bonds, the interest rates on these securities are reset every 7, 28 or 35 days through an auction process.

Historically, the rate paid has been less than on traditional bonds, making the national $160-billion auction-rate market a reliable source of cheap financing.

But that market has collapsed in the past two months, sending interest rates climbing. As a result, California, Richmond, the Bay Area Toll Authority, the East Bay Municipal Utility District and Sacramento County are among countless government agencies forced to restructure their bond debts. Continue reading »

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