Well the report is in, the 19 banks given a “stress” test by the Feds are all able to survive and continue as key financial institutions. Ten need to build up their asset bases and nine have adequate funds. The result was seen even before the report was released, financial shares on the stock exchanges rose like rockets at lift-off.

One thing not revealed in the public information about the tests was the role played by lifting the “mark-to’market” rules. While nothing was specifically said about this, clearly the banks would not have been able to perform so well if they had not been able to revise valuations of assets to “long-term” or “maturity” values, instead of marking them to notional markets.

Proof of how fast the banks have recovered enough to lend again, I am in Spain where its largest bank just issued a new Euro 1.5 billion securitized debt bond based on mortgages. Say what, aren’t these the “toxic assets” that caused the recession? Well yes, they are, but, as I have said all along, we now know that traditional sources of credit are not sufficient for our “New Economy.” We need securitized debt to regain where we were in 2007 and go beyond, even in Spain.

A major hurdle has been crossed. Now to the Obama stimulus plan.

Leo Cecchini
May 2009