Businesses Paralyzed Amid Crisis
The financial crisis that has roiled Wall Street is reaching deep into the mainstream economy, throwing a pall over the ability of companies, pension funds and philanthropies to expand and invest.
Despite Friday's 494.13-point rebound in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the Dow remains down 43% from last year's record close, deep in a bear market. Many companies are finding it impossible to issue bonds or stock and executives are refusing to take the normal risks needed to drive the economy.
Ketchup company H.J. Heinz has announced plans to conserve cash. Boeing is cutting costs and laying off employees, and reduced Boeing Capital's portfolio so it can better finance deliveries of jets to customers with banking troubles. Even technology giant Cisco Systems, with $28 billion in the bank, is reducing spending on travel, equipment and marketing to conserve cash.
'People are paralyzed in fear. They are conserving resources, afraid to make investments or take risks,' said Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, senior associate dean at the Yale School of Management. 'It is unparalleled.'
Before Friday's rally, the Dow was off 11% for the week alone. Even after Friday's 6.5% gain to 8046.42, the Dow was down 5.3% for the week, and down in 18 of the past 23 weeks.
The rally followed news that Federal Reserve Bank of New York President Timothy Geithner is to be named Treasury secretary. Investors welcomed the news, because it resolves a major uncertainty. Mr. Geithner is well-liked on Wall Street and viewed as more of an activist than Secretary Henry Paulson in his approach to resolving the financial troubles.
Those problems have weighed heavily on the American economy.
'The [bond] market is clearly closed,' said Tim O'Hara, who heads credit underwriting at Credit Suisse Group.
Of dozens of new investment-grade and junk-bond issues that had been scheduled for the weeks after Labor Day, most have been sidetracked. Just one junk-bond issue has made it out since September, a $750 million issue for MGM Mirage. The company paid 15%, twice what it paid for an issue of the same size one year ago. The average yield on a junk bond is more than 20% now, according to Merrill Lynch.
Pepsi Bottling Group in October paid considerably more than it has in the past for a $3.3 billion bond offering. The company has announced plans to cut nearly 1,000 jobs.
If the market remains frozen, the $178 billion of debt coming due next year for weaker-rated companies will be difficult to refinance, said Diane Vazza, chief credit analyst at Standard & Poor's.
Entergy last month announced plans to delay a proposed spinoff of its five nuclear-power plants into the nation's first stand-alone nuclear-generating company, saying 'unprecedented turmoil in financial markets' has clouded prospects for completion of the largely debt-financed transaction.
Casino companies have halted billions of dollars in development projects from Las Vegas to Macau, China's gambling enclave. They are scrambling for cash to avoid defaulting on bank loans.
In recent weeks, Chief Executive Sheldon Adelson of Las Vegas Sands, owner of the Venetian casino resorts in Las Vegas and Macau, pumped in nearly half a billion dollars of his own cash to keep the company from breaking a loan covenant. He contributed another half-billion to a stock purchase as part of an effort to raise $2 billion to keep from breaking another covenant and help fund casino operations.
The financial crisis has created debt problems for media titan Sumner Redstone, who controls CBS and Viacom. The decline in value of the two stocks violated terms of bank loans held by Mr. Redstone's family holding company, forcing him to renegotiate $1.6 billion in bank debt. The holding company sold $233 million in CBS and Viacom stock in October, about 10% of Mr. Redstone's holding, but the sale wasn't enough to resolve the problem and the renegotiation continues.
Earlier this month, one of the largest commodity-related transactions of the year -- Bunge's purchase of Corn Products International -- collapsed after the value of the all-stock deal fell to $1.72 billion from $4.2 billion.
Worst-hit is the banking and finance business.
Almost as damaged is the housing sector, where housing starts fell to lows in October. Most of nation's large publicly traded home builders are expected to survive, but analysts expect as many as half of the nation's privately held home builders, 70% of the market, to go bust or close down.
The California Public Employees' Retirement System, the nation's largest public retirement fund by assets, has lost 26% since the start of its fiscal year in July. It recently told schools and state and local governments to expect increases in contributions, starting in 2010 and 2011.
番茄酱生产商亨氏(H.J. Heinz Co.)已经公布了节省现金的计划。波音(Boeing)也在着手降?#32479;?#26412;、裁减员工，并且已经减少了Boeing Capital的投资组合，以便更好地为向那些面临银行业困境的客户交付喷气机提供资金支持。甚至拥有280亿美元银?#20889;?#27454;的科技巨头思科系统(Cisco Systems)也在减少出差、设备和市场营销方面的支出来节省现金。
瑞士信贷集团(Credit Suisse Group)信贷承销业务负责人奥哈拉(Tim O'Hara)?#25285;?#20538;券市场显然已经关闭了。
在拟定于9月份劳工节之后几周进行的数十桩新的投资级和垃圾债券发行?#26657;?#22823;部分都已经被搁置了。自9月份以来，只有一只垃圾债券得以发?#26657;?#21363;美高梅金殿?#20301;?MGM Mirage)发行的7.5亿美元债券。该公司提供的?#25214;?#29575;为15%，是一年前同等规模债券的两倍。据美林(Merrill Lynch)的数据显示，垃圾债券的平均?#25214;?#29575;如今超过了20%。
从事饮料瓶装业务的Pepsi Bottling Group 10月份为33亿美元的债券发行支?#35835;?#36828;高于以往的?#25214;媛省?#35813;公司已经宣布计划裁减近1,000名员工。
标?#35745;?#23572;(Standard & Poor's)首席信用分析师戴安·瓦扎(Diane Vazza)?#25285;?#22914;果市场继续冻结下去，评级?#31995;?#30340;企业明年将到期的1,780亿美元债务将很难获得再融资。
近几周，拉斯维加斯金沙集团股份有限公司(Las Vegas Sands Corp.)首席执行长艾德森(Sheldon Adelson)从?#32422;?#33136;包中?#32479;?#36817;5亿美元的现金，以避免贷款违约。他还?#32479;?亿美元买进?#21892;保?#20316;为筹资20亿美元的一部分，以避免公司在另外一份合同上违约，同时支撑赌场的运营。该公司在拉斯维加斯和澳门均有业务。
金融危机也给传媒大亨?#36164;?#19996;(Sumner Redstone)带来了债务问题。他控制着哥伦比亚广播公司(CBS)和维亚?#30340;?Viacom Inc.)。这两家公司?#21892;?#30340;下挫违反了?#36164;?#19996;?#26131;?#25511;股公司持有的银?#20889;?#27454;条款，迫使他重新协商了16亿美元的银?#20889;?#27454;。这家控股公司10月份卖掉了CBS和维亚?#30340;?#20849;2.33亿美元的?#21892;保?#32422;占?#36164;?#19996;持有资产的10%，不过售股并不足以解决问题，眼下重新协商还在继续?#23567;?BR>
本月早些时候，本年度涉及大宗商品规模最大的的交易之一──Bunge收购Corn Products International──破裂，因为这桩全?#21892;?#25910;购的价值从42亿美元降至了17.2亿美元。
自今年7月份本财年开始以来，美国资产规模最大的公共退休基金加州公务员退休基金(California Public Employees' Retirement System)已经损失了26%。最近该基金告知学校以及州和地方政府，从2010年和2011年开始可能会提高他们的出资额。