news blog from Annika

Oct 14

Obama recruits more big cash donors for re-election

At least forty-one people have raised at least half a million dollars for the president, compared to 27 in Obama’s first report, according to an analysis of campaign data released on Friday.The big donors, known as “bundlers,” are typically well-connected people who pledge to gather tens of thousands of dollars for a candidateFormer Goldman Sachs executive Jon Corzine and Dreamworks Animation chief executive Jeffrey Katzenberg are on Obama’s elite list and raised $500,000 or more.The president’s campaign finance report shows he can still pull in major cash despite a stagnant economy, dipping approval ratings and grumblings among some liberal supporters that he has not done enough for their cause.While still keeping ties to his famed small donor operation, Obama is relying heavily on major donors early on to finance a campaign that is likely to break records in spending, according to Anthony Corrado, a campaign finance expert at Colby College.”The emphasis has been on doing larger dollar fundraising events particularly asking for $2,500,” Corrado said. “Events like this help him to raise substantial amounts of money for the campaign allowing him to exceed his pace for 2007.”Obama and the Democratic National Committee have raised more than $150 million so far for his bid for a second term, far outstripping Obama’s Republican rivals. Bundlers raised about a third of that haul.Earlier on Friday, Republican Mitt Romney posted $14 million for the quarter, second to fellow Republican Texas Governor Rick Perry’s $17 million. Obama’s comparable fundraising figure for the three months was $43 million.Obama voluntarily releases a list of bundlers. No other major candidate has done so.The president regularly brings in more than $1 million in a single evening of fundraising, as supporters donate the legal maximum of $35,800 to his campaign and the Democratic party for the chance to have dinner and take a picture with the president.UBS executive Robert Wolf and hedge fund executive Orin Kramer are also big Obama fundraisers.SMALL DONORSAt least 40 percent of all the money raised by the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee last quarter came from those giving in increments of $200 or less.The Obama campaign has been touting its connections to mainstream Americans who send smaller checks, calling itself a grassroots effort.”They are still doing well with small donors,” said Darrell West, director of governance studies at the Brookings Institution, a think tank.The campaign said that in the third quarter about 600,000 people donated to the campaign.Much has been made of dipping support among Wall Street for Obama. Some financial executives, including hedge fund managers, have complained about Obama’s tax and financial regulation policies and his comments about the wealthy, at times calling them “fat cats.”In the second quarter, more Wall Street money did flow to Romney, who has deep ties there. Still, Obama boosted the number of bundlers with Wall Street ties in that period.But fundraising prowess doesn’t guarantee victory for the incumbent, who is fighting for re-election amid a economic stagnation and high unemployment.”Every bit of news like this gives people a certain degree of confidence that they are on the right train,” said Paul Gray, a Chicago art dealer who is raising money for Obama.”But the most compelling kind of data that we could receive right now is positive financial data about the U.S. economy.”

Oct 12

TEXT-S&P:Ratings on 11 Hitachi Capital RMBS transactions afrmd

OVERVIEW— The 11 transactions, Hitachi Capital’s series 1 to 11 mortgage-backed trust certificates, are ultimately secured by a pool of housing loans originated by Hitachi Capital Corp .— The performance of the underlying collateral pool has been within Standard & Poor’s initial assumptions, and credit enhancement levels have increased, reflecting progress in principal redemption for the rated senior trust certificates.— We affirmed our credit ratings on the 11 transactions.Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services today affirmed its ‘AAA (sf)’ ratings on the senior trust certificates issued under Hitachi Capital’s series 1 to 11 mortgage-backed trust certificates (see list below).

Oct 11

Shrewd hedge funds profit in turbulent September

Bearish macro bets such as owning U.S. and European government bonds, as well as being short equities, commodities and the euro, have helped funds navigate a crisis that has seen fears of a global recession and a banking crisis grow.Brevan Howard’s $25 billion Master fund, one of the world’s biggest hedge funds, gained 1.5 percent last month to September 23, said two sources who had seen data on the fund’s performance. This takes profits this year to 12.3 percent.And GLG, part of Man Group (EMG.L), saw its $2 billion Atlas Macro fund, which is managed by Driss Ben-Brahim and Jamil Baz, gain an estimated 6 percent in September, said a person close to the company.In contrast, the average hedge fund lost 3 percent last month, according to Hedge Fund Research’s HFRX index, taking year-to-date losses to 8.4 percent. The third quarter was the worst for three years.Equity funds were hard hit, particularly those focusing on stocks’ fundamental value, with MSCI’s World index of stocks .MIWO00000PUS falling a further 8.8 percent during the month.A number of industry insiders have pointed to markets being preoccupied with economic worries, rather than company fundamentals.”This is not 2008, but perhaps one similarity with 2008 is that market’s focus is on macro, and no-one is really focusing on the micro,” said Frank Frecentese, global head of hedge fund investments at Citi Private Bank.EQUITY, CREDIT FUNDSGlobal macro funds — made famous by the likes of George Soros — have tended to be more bearish than equity managers and have benefited from falling bond yields in countries such as the United States, Germany and the UK.On Thursday the Bank of England announced a further 75 billion pound stimulus, pushing yields on longer-dated debt to record lows.Stenham Asset Management said its Trading fund, which invests in macro hedge funds, gained an estimated 0.8 percent in September, taking third-quarter gains to 3.4 percent.Meanwhile, a smattering of equity managers were able to profit, even as markets fell.Marshall Wace’s $1 billion Eureka fund, managed by co-founder Paul Marshall, gained 1.5 percent in September, taking gains this year to 5.8 percent, said a source familiar with the matter.And its Global Opportunities fund, which is run by Fehim Sever and which focuses on emerging markets, rose 6.5 percent last month, lifting this year’s profits to 23.8 percent.Among credit funds, CQS, one of Europe’s biggest hedge fund managers, saw its Credit Long-Short fund, which is managed by Simon Finch, gain 1.7 percent in September, taking year-to-date gains to 7.9 percent.This was helped by active trading of both long and short positions, according to a source familiar with the matter.And while GLG’s Emerging Markets fund has suffered this year, its Emerging Credit Opportunities portfolio gained 1 percent last month.