Meredith's Bearish on Banks and the Economy
The influential bank analyst, Meredith Whitney who cut her rating on Goldman Sachs Group Inc. last month, said bank stocks are overvalued after rallying faster than the U.S. economy and share prices will fall to tangible book value.
“I haven’t been this bearish in a year,” Whitney, founder of Meredith Whitney Advisory Group LLC, said today in a CNBC television interview. “I think you can sit on cash for a little bit, because you have to wait for a leg down in valuations. The S&P is expensive across the board.”
“The banks that are asset-sensitive to consumer credit are not places you want to be,” Whitney said. Financial companies aren’t adequately capitalized and will need to raise more capital in the next year, she said.
Whitney said she expects a so-called double-dip recession in which the U.S. economy slumps again before recovering. She said bank stocks won’t fall as far as they did last year because of a smaller impact from fair-value accounting, which requires companies to value assets each quarter to reflect market prices.
Ben Bernanke Signals No Intervention in Foreign Exchange
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said it’s “not obvious” that asset prices in the U.S. are out of line with underlying values after a 64 percent jump in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index from its March low.
“It is inherently extraordinarily difficult to know whether an asset’s price is in line with its fundamental value,” he said today in response to audience questions after a speech in New York. “It’s not obvious to me in any case that there’s any large misalignments currently in the U.S. financial system.”
The U.S. central bank chief didn’t address asset prices outside of the country. Financial officials in Japan and China, Asia’s two largest economies, said this week that the Fed’s interest-rate policy risks spurring speculative capital that may inflate asset prices and derail the global economic recovery.
“The best approach here if at all possible is to use supervisory and regulatory methods to restrain undue risk-taking and to make sure the system is resilient in case an asset-price bubble bursts in the future,” Bernanke said.
Bernanke said in his speech that the “headwinds” of reduced bank lending and a weak labor market will probably restrain the pace of the U.S. economic recovery, warranting continued low borrowing costs. Bernanke also said the Fed is “attentive” to changes in the dollar’s value and “will help ensure that the dollar is strong.”