Friday, August 17, 2007

Off to the Races!

Well it's been a good while since we last had a nice old fashioned bank run:

'...Anxious customers jammed the phone lines and website of Countrywide Bank and crowded its branch offices to pull out their savings because of concerns about the financial problems of the mortgage lender that owns the bank.

Countrywide Financial Corp., the biggest home-loan company in the nation, sought Thursday to assure depositors and the financial industry that both it and its bank were fiscally stable. And federal regulators said they weren't alarmed by the volume of withdrawals from the bank.

The mortgage lender said it would further tighten its loan standards and make fewer large mortgages. Those moves could make it harder to get a home loan and further depress the housing market in California and other states.

The rush to withdraw money -- by depositors that included a former Los Angeles Kings star hockey player and an executive of a rival home-loan company -- came a day after fears arose that Countrywide Financial could file for bankruptcy protection because of a worsening credit crunch stemming from the sub-prime mortgage meltdown...'

This goes hand in hand with a couple of figures released yesterday that oddly enough didn't get much media coverage:

'...The cash positions in mutual funds stand at 3.8%, slightly below the 3.9% low established in 1972.

Margin debt as a percentage of the S&P market cap has climbed to 2.4%, an all-time high. The previous peak? Early 2000, at the height of the Internet bubble...'

So cash positions are at an all time low, and margin positions are at an all time high. It looks like the roller coaster days on Wall Street aren't going to be ending anytime soon. (h/t Atrios)