Aug 21

Buffett Joins Team Whitney; Sees Muni Pain Ahead As He Unwinds Half Of His Bullish CDS Exposure Prematurely (ZeroHedge, Aug 20, 2012):

Just under two years ago, Meredith Whitney made a much maligned, if very vocal call, that hundreds of US municipalities will file for bankruptcy. She also put a timestamp on the call, which in retrospect was her downfall, because while she will ultimately proven 100% correct about the actual event, the fact that she was off temporally (making it seem like a trading call instead of a fundamental observation) merely had a dilutive impact of the statement. As a result she was initially taken seriously, causing a big hit to the muni market, only to be largely ignored subsequently even following several prominent California bankruptcies. This is all about to change as none other than Warren Buffett has slashed half of his entire municipal exposure, in what the WSJ has dubbed a “red flag” for the municipal-bond market. Perhaps another way of calling it is the second coming of Meredith Whitney’s muni call, this time however from an institutionalized permabull. Continue reading »

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Jul 01



Minnesota Joins New Jersey In Insolvency, Shuts Down, Harbinger Of Debt Ceiling Negotiation Outcome? (ZeroHedge, July 1, 2011):

Two down. 48 to go until Meredith Whitney is proven correct beyond a reasonable doubt. After New Jersey was forced to reach out to JP Morgan for an emergency bridge loan a few days ago, it is Minnesota’s turn. From ABC: “Minnesota’s government has shut down, ahead of the holiday weekend, for the second time in six years after state leaders failed to find common ground on resolving a $5 billion budget deficit. Thousands of state workers will be laid off, state parks will be shuttered, the issuance of fishing licenses will be halted and the Minneapolis zoo will be closed. Road projects will also grind to a standstill just as people hit the road for the holiday. A midnight deadline passed without an agreement as talks between Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and top Republicans unraveled over Dayton’s proposal to impose taxes on the state’s top earners, a move on which top GOP officials have refused to budge…Some programs that will continue unabated include critical services including the State Patrol, prisons, disaster response and federally funded health, welfare and food stamp programs.” Granted this is not a first: “Only four other states — Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Tennessee — have had shutdowns in the past decade, some lasting mere hours. Minnesota’s government partially shut down under then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty in 2005 over a budget fallout.” However, if NJ is any indication, as predicted, expect ever more states to bypass the municipal route of funding, and appeal directly to commercial banks. Which will generously provide as much Fed-generated one and zeros…in exchange for 80% LTV collateral of course.

More:

A midnight deadline passed without an agreement as talks between Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and top Republicans unraveled over Dayton’s proposal to impose taxes on the state’s top earners, a move on which top GOP officials have refused to budge.

“It’s significant that this shutdown will begin on the Fourth of July weekend,” Dayton said in a news conference late Thursday night. “On that date we celebrate our independence. It also reminds us there are causes and struggles worth fighting for.”

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Feb 08

She just stated the obvious.

She just pressed the big red button in front of her, now look at the reaction.


Meredith Whitney has done it again, turning Wall Street against her with a contrarian call, this time on municipal bonds.

The analyst’s prediction for “50 to 100 sizable defaults” of U.S. municipal bonds totaling “hundreds of billions of dollars” could become her Big Wrong Call. If so, it will knock Whitney from a pedestal, to the satisfaction of her many critics.

She has staked her credibility on this forecast, broadcast Dec. 20 in an interview on CBS’s “60 Minutes.” Her summary of a 600-page report to clients prompted a National League of Cities analyst to say she possessed a “stunning lack of understanding.” Other critics called her prediction “ludicrous,” “irresponsible,” “damaging,” and “overreaching.”

There’s a huge gap between these descriptions and Whitney’s track record as an analyst. The chasm is so big that it is worth exploring. Something interesting is going unexamined or unexplained.

Many of Whitney’s critics have a vested interest in tearing her down. They include competing municipal bond analysts, fund managers who run muni portfolios, financial advisers who sell the tax-exempt securities, and above all, the borrowers who depend on munis to finance their whopping deficits. To all of them she is a big-mouthed, larger-than-life nightmare.

Continue reading »

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Dec 21

More from Meredith Whitney:

Meredith Whitney: US Government Will Have to Bailout States in Next 12 Months

Meredith Whitney on CNBC: ‘I Haven’t Been This Bearish in a Year’; ‘S&P Expensive Across the Board’; Expects Next Leg Down in the Housing Market Soon


Overdrawn American cities could face financial collapse in 2011, defaulting on hundreds of billions of dollars of borrowings and derailing the US economic recovery. Nor are European cities safe – Florence, Barcelona, Madrid, Venice: all are in trouble


Shuttered homes and businesses in downtown Detroit, Michigan. American cities and states have debts that could be as high as $2tn. Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty ImagesMore than 100 American cities could go bust next year as the debt crisis that has taken down banks and countries threatens next to spark a municipal meltdown, a leading analyst has warned.

Meredith Whitney, the US research analyst who correctly predicted the global credit crunch, described local and state debt as the biggest problem facing the US economy, and one that could derail its recovery.

“Next to housing this is the single most important issue in the US and certainly the biggest threat to the US economy,” Whitney told the CBS 60 Minutes programme on Sunday night.

“There’s not a doubt on my mind that you will see a spate of municipal bond defaults. You can see fifty to a hundred sizeable defaults – more. This will amount to hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of defaults.”

New Jersey governor Chris Christie summarised the problem succinctly: “We spent too much on everything. We spent money we didn’t have. We borrowed money just crazily. The credit card’s maxed out, and it’s over. We now have to get to the business of climbing out of the hole. We’ve been digging it for a decade or more. We’ve got to climb now, and a climb is harder.”

American cities and states have debts in total of as much as $2tn. In Europe, local and regional government borrowing is expected to reach a historical peak of nearly €1.3tn (£1.1tn) this year.

Cities from Detroit to Madrid are struggling to pay creditors, including providers of basic services such as street cleaning. Last week, Moody’s ratings agency warned about a possible downgrade for the cities of Florence and Barcelona and cut the rating of the Basque country in northern Spain. Lisbon was downgraded by rival agency Standard & Poor’s earlier this year, while the borrowings of Naples and Budapest are on the brink of junk status. Istanbul’s debt has already been downgraded to junk.

Continue reading »

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Oct 04

The US is totally broke. Prepare for collapse and the Greatest Depression.

–  US Government ‘Hiding True Amount of Debt’, Engages in ‘Enron Accounting’


The U.S. government will face pressure to bail out struggling states in the next 12 months, said Meredith Whitney, the banking analyst who correctly predicted Citigroup Inc.’s dividend cut in 2008.

While saying a bailout might not be politically viable, Whitney joined investor Warren Buffett in raising alarm bells about the potential for widespread defaults in the $2.8 trillion municipal bond market. She said state and local issuers have taken on too much debt and that the gap between public spending and revenue is unsustainable.

“People will think the federal government will bail these states out,” Whitney, 40, the founder of Meredith Whitney Advisory Group Inc., said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “In the Loop.” “It’s going to be an incredibly divisive issue.”

Whitney’s comments coincide with her release of a report rating the financial health of the 15 largest U.S. states measured by gross domestic product, according to Fortune magazine. The report, which Whitney said took two years to complete and hasn’t been released publicly, ranks California’s finances the worst, with New Jersey, Illinois and Ohio tied for second-worst.

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Nov 18



Nov. 16 (Bloomberg) — Meredith Whitney, the analyst who cut her rating on Goldman Sachs Group Inc. last month, said bank stocks are overvalued after rallying faster than the U.S. economy and share prices will fall to tangible book value.

“I haven’t been this bearish in a year,” Whitney, founder of Meredith Whitney Advisory Group LLC, said today in a CNBC television interview. “I think you can sit on cash for a little bit, because you have to wait for a leg down in valuations. The S&P is expensive across the board.”

Continue reading »

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Aug 27

meredith-whitney
Meredith Whitney, the analyst who predicted that Citigroup Inc. would cut its dividend last year, said the number of U.S. bank failures will quadruple as lenders struggle with bad loans. (Bloomberg)

Aug. 21 (Bloomberg) — Meredith Whitney, the analyst who predicted that Citigroup Inc. would cut its dividend last year, said the number of U.S. bank failures will quadruple as lenders struggle with bad loans.

“There will be over 300 bank closures,” Whitney said in an interview with Bloomberg Television from Jackson Hole, Wyoming. “The small-business owner on Main Street continues to see liquidity come away.”

Continue reading »

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Mar 16

The economic crisis has only just begun.

Meredith Whitney, one of Wall Street’s best known and most bearish bank analysts, estimates that Americans’ credit card lines will be cut by $2.7 trillion, or 50 percent, by the end of 2010 — and fewer Americans will be offered new cards.

Related article: Meredith Whitney: Credit cards are the next credit crunch (Reuters)


* AmEx and Citi perform worse-than-expected – analysts

* JPMorgan and Capital One outperform expectations

* Default rates seen over 10 percent by year-end

NEW YORK, March 16 (Reuters) – U.S. credit card defaults rose in February to their highest level in at least 20 years, with losses particularly severe at American Express Co (AXP.N) and Citigroup (C.N) amid a deepening recession .

AmEx, the largest U.S. charge card operator by sales volume, said its net charge-off rate — debts companies believe they will never be able to collect — rose to 8.70 percent in February from 8.30 percent in January.

The credit card company’s shares wiped out early gains and ended down 3.3 percent as loan losses exceeded expectations. Moshe Orenbuch, an analyst at Credit Suisse, said American Express credit card losses were 10 basis points larger than forecast.

In addition, Citigroup Inc (C.N) — one of the largest issuers of MasterCard cards — disappointed analysts as its default rate soared to 9.33 percent in February, from 6.95 percent a month earlier, according to a report based on trusts representing a portion of securitized credit card debt.

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Mar 10

(Reuters) – Prominent banking analyst Meredith Whitney warned that “credit cards are the next credit crunch,” as contracting credit lines will lower consumer spending and hurt the U.S. economy.

“Few doubt the importance of consumer spending to the U.S. economy and its multiplier effect on the global economy, but what is underappreciated is the role of credit-card availability in that spending,” Whitney wrote in the Wall Street Journal.

She said though credit was extended “too freely over the past 15 years” and rationalization of lending is unavoidable, what needs to be avoided was “taking credit away from people who have the ability to pay their bills.”

Whitney said available lines were reduced by nearly $500 billion in the fourth quarter of 2008 alone, and she estimates over $2 trillion of credit-card lines will be cut within 2009, and $2.7 trillion by the end of 2010.

“Inevitably, credit lines will continue to be reduced across the system, but the velocity at which it is already occurring and will continue to occur will result in unintended consequences for consumer confidence, spending and the overall economy,” Whitney said.

Currently, there is roughly $5 trillion in credit-card lines outstanding in the U.S., and a little more than $800 billion is currently drawn upon, she said.

“Lenders, regulators and politicians need to show thoughtful leadership now on this issue in order to derail what I believe will be at least a 57 percent contraction in credit-card lines,” she said.

Continue reading »

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Aug 05

The star analyst tells Fortune magazine that housing woes will force banks to keep taking writedowns.

NEW YORK (Fortune) — The credit crisis is far from over, star analyst Meredith Whitney tells Fortune magazine in its upcoming issue.

Whitney, who audaciously – and correctly – predicted last October that Citigroup (C, Fortune 500) would have to cut its dividend, tells the magazine that banks in general today are still facing much bigger credit losses than what they’ve reported so far.

The Oppenheimer & Co. analyst warned last year – and continues to warn today – that the “incestuous” relationship between the banks and the credit-rating agencies during the real estate bubble will have a long-lasting impact on banks’ ability to recover.

Continue reading »

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