Friday, February 15, 2008

US mortgage crisis affects bond markets

The recapitalization of U.S. bond insurers hit by the subprime crisis may occur soon, but if it fails, insurers can be forced to separate riskier activities from their municipal bonds business, New York state officials said on Thursday.
"The clear preference is a recapitalization of the companies, something that could happen at some point. We would hope shortly," Gov. Eliot Spitzer told reporters after testifying before a U.S. House Financial Services subcommittee about the state of the bond insurance industry.

Lawmakers have said government intervention may be needed to ease financial strains in the bond industry that are unsettling other areas of the economy.

While one major U.S. bond insurer cautioned members of a House subcommittee against stricter government rules or a bailout, another saw its credit rating cut over worries it may lack the reserve cash to cover surging defaults.

An offshoot of the mortgage crisis, the dislocation in the bond insurance industry is spreading beyond Wall Street, threatening the cost of financing everything from student loans to public works projects, officials say.

Credit-rating agency Moody's Investors Service on Thursday downgraded from "AAA" to "A3" securities of Financial Guaranty Insurance Co., saying it does not have enough capital in reserve to cover a potential spike in claims. Bond insurers essentially need a "AAA" rating to continue writing new business.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Alarming report on mental health

A government policy launched in the 1980s namely deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill has been called a failed experiment by the British Columbia's Premier Gordon Campbell who was elected in 2001. The increasing problem of the mentally ill came out in an investigative report by the police that revealed a third of all police calls deal with the mentally ill.

The mayor of Vancouver says he's not surprised the police research report. But Mayor Sam Sullivan says he's still shocked by the actual number of such calls and the amount of resources Vancouver police have to devote to dealing with mentally ill people.

This is the result of a dysfunctional health system which refuses to treat mentally ill who aren't off drugs. The Mayor said that many of those the police encounter should be in institutions and not on the street. Due to the lack of institutional capacity, Vancouver's mentally ill are roaming the streets posing a danger to either themselves or others.