Behavioral Finance 101: Expectations, Reality and the Total Return Swap.

Russell sent me this from the Wall Street Journal and it is quite good. The concept is fairly simple as Jason Zweig illustrates:

David Salem is president of the Investment Fund for Foundations, which manages $8 billion for more than 700 nonprofits. Mr. Salem periodically asks trustees and investment officers of these charities to imagine they can swap all their assets in exchange for a contract that guarantees them a risk-free return for the next 50 years, while also satisfying their current spending needs. Then he asks them what minimal rate of return, after inflation and all fees, they would accept in such a swap.

Does this concept translate to the average Joe saving for retirement? You bet it does as we continue:

Robert Veres, editor of the Inside Information financial-planning newsletter, recently asked his subscribers to estimate long-term future stock returns after inflation, expenses and taxes, what I call a “net-net-net” return. Several dozen leading financial advisers responded. Although some didn’t subtract taxes, the average answer was 6%. A few went as high as 9%.

We all should be so lucky. Historically, inflation has eaten away three percentage points of return a year. Investment expenses and taxes each have cut returns by roughly one to two percentage points a year. All told, those costs reduce annual returns by five to seven points. Continue reading “Behavioral Finance 101: Expectations, Reality and the Total Return Swap.”

No ch

McClatchy DC’s Greg Gordon has done a bang up job dissecting Goldman Sachs’ huge profits after the bailout.  This topic represents the intersection of TARP, the Wall Street investment banks and the offshore reinsurance industry. With subprime mortgages stuffed inside insurance linked securities that were peddled both domestically and overseas, the securitized reinsurance contained a derivative based financial guarantee which was likely made good by TARP (my posts on Allstate’s Willow Re, which was not bailed out can be found here in general with my “bell cow post” here. With a tip of the hat to our good friend Mr CLS I can short cut the exhaustive written series of articles by Greg Gordon that focuses on bailed out Goldman Sachs with a recent Youtube interview he gave.

As an aside I continue to believe the collapse of this glorified pyramid scheme explains more on the recent volatility of the costs of RE than anything you’ll hear from the paid shills at their tradegroups (Ol’ Eli is so proud of his work there his Bio is access restricted). I think after a fair read of the information open-minded folks would tend to agree. Or put another way the tail risk associated with Hurricanes does change over time but not overnight. And those that could game the system made out like bandits. The Youtube embed is below the fold. Continue reading “No ch”

Slabbed Lets the Cat out of the Bag: Is Allstate’s Reinsurance Program Worthless? Ask the Weeping Willow tREe.

Cat bonds that is and certainly they have been topical this week here on slabbed. Let’s begin by taking a trip back in time to the Bloomberg story we linked on Willow Re, an Allstate SPE (special purpose entity) earlier this week:

The issuer has notified Standard & Poor’s that it will not have sufficient funds to make the scheduled interest payment,” S&P analyst Gary Martucci in New York wrote in the statement.So-called cat bonds have gained popularity as a way for insurers to protect against natural disasters, and buyers demand outsized returns because they risk losing their entire investment to the insurer if the catastrophe is large enough. With Willow Re and other bonds backed by Lehman, investors are on the verge of losing a portion of their stake because of a financial calamity instead of a natural one.“The market was already pricing Willow Re in the area of 50 cents,” said Christophe Fritsch, head of insurance-linked securities at Axa SA in Paris. “New deals will improve dramatically. Investors will make sure that they will only be exposed to insurance risk and won’t take credit risk.”

Returns Guaranteed

Willow Re is one of four catastrophe bonds that used contracts sold by Lehman to guarantee returns on collateral backing the notes and to make interest payments. Lehman’s collapse in September nullified the guarantees, leaving the securities open to market value losses on the collateral. Continue reading “Slabbed Lets the Cat out of the Bag: Is Allstate’s Reinsurance Program Worthless? Ask the Weeping Willow tREe.”