Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Subprime mess good for stocks?

So argues Jeremy Siegel. Key paragraph:

I think the Fed made the right moves at the right time. But the fallout from this crisis will be with us for a long time. Stocks are thought to be riskier than bonds and much riskier than mortgage bonds. Those that believed they could automatically make junk bonds safe by "backing" them with assets, be they homes or railroad cars, have been proven wrong. It turns out that the best credits are general obligation bonds based on all the firm's income and assets, not debts backed by dubious assets.

In the long run, all this is a good development for the stock market. In the last decade, more than one trillion dollars has migrated to hedge funds and untold billions to complicated debt and derivative securities. Who will buy those assets in the future? I believe quite a few investors will return to stocks and general obligation bonds - assets that they can buy and sell at any time they want.

Wall Street has rediscovered liquidity and transparency. Stocks and old-fashioned bonds have them; new-fangled collateralized debt obligations and hedge funds do not. A return to basics will be good for both the economy and the financial markets.

While he's obviously exagerating a bit, the point is taken.