The spread of COVID-19 has created a new reality for the hospitality industry. As of March 25, the CDC reported 54,453 confirmed cases in the U.S., and the number is expected to grow exponentially. In the hopes of slashing infection rates, governments have implemented international travel bans, shelter-in-place orders and other restrictive measures. The second-most popular tourist destination in the world, Spain, has ordered all its hotels and other tourist accommodations to be closed.
Continue Reading Beds without Heads: Hotels in the Era of the Coronavirus

Just when you thought the regulators had forgotten about HVCRE ADC, they issued a new notice of proposed rulemaking like they were Beyoncé surprise-dropping a new album. And then…they disappeared again! We were waiting for more news before alerting our readers but nothing has come to date. To bring those not in the HVCRE ADC-hive up to speed, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (EGRRCPA) reformed the capital rule for acquisition, development and construction loans (HVCRE ADC exposures or loans) back in May 2018, but the regulations have yet to be conformed to the statutory regime.

Under the current statutory framework, an HVCRE ADC loan is a credit facility secured by land or improved real property which (A) primarily finances, has financed, or refinances the acquisition, development, or construction of real property; (B) has the purpose of providing financing to acquire, develop, or improve such real property into income-producing real property; and (C) is dependent upon future income or sales proceeds from, or refinancing of, such real property for the repayment of such credit facility. Among other exceptions, the current statutory regime includes an exemption for loans that finance the acquisition, development, or construction of one- to four-family residential properties (the paragraph 2(i)(A) exemption).

On July 12, 2019, the Federal Reserve, FDIC and OCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (2019 NPR), in response to comments submitted to their September 2018 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (2018 NPR). The 2018 NPR was meant to conform the regulatory capital rule to the updates brought about in EGRRCPA and the 2019 NPR supplements the previous proposal to narrow the paragraph 2(i)(A) exemption.
Continue Reading HVCRE ADC Update: Regulators Propose Eliminating Exemption for Land Development Loans

The US economy is about to pay the butcher’s bill for a massive disruption of worldwide financial markets resulting from the elimination of the London Interbank Offered Rate, or LIBOR.  And, we are doing this on purpose.  It seems the denizens of the heights of our international financial fabric felt they had to do this in light of the discovery that a handful of bankers had unlawfully colluded to cause LIBOR to be mispriced for their personal advantage.  As Captain Renault said, “I’m shocked, shocked!”  This was so bad that we had to blow up the LIBOR index upon which trillions of dollars of financial assets are based?  While bankers behaving badly is a problem, why are we punishing markets because our banking regulatory cadres failed to prevent bad behavior?  At best, this is a monument to irrational rectitude.
Continue Reading Killing LIBOR: A Victory for Irrational Rectitude

Just a few short months ago we took on the breathtakingly ill-conceived Current Expected Credit Loss (CECL) standard that the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) proposed to implement starting in 2020.  CECL will require major shifts in the way lenders model, forecast and reserve for future losses.  It would materially drive up capital requirements, impair earnings and ultimately drive spreads higher to the borrowing community.  And by the way, it would be pro-cyclical.  If we were actually going to do these things (and we shouldn’t), an unelected financial standard setting committee is surely the wrong party to hold the pen.

The lending community screamed bloody murder, and for good reason.  Luckily, the small banking community was at the forefront on this cri de coeur.  While the money center banks may be one of our pols’ favorite whipping boys, everyone in politics loves the small banker (visions of Jimmy Stewart dancing in their reptilian brains) because those bankers made loans to their constituents, support their local community and, oh, by the way, made significant political contributions.Continue Reading Beany & CECL – Episode 2

Tim Sloan resigned as the CEO of Wells Fargo a few months ago.  I had briefly worked with Tim and much admired him so, on a personal level, this was sad.  Now, Mr. Sloan’s resignation might have been a compelling and obvious move in any crisis consultant’s playbook, so I get that – but – oh, the vilification!

This commentary is about the ease with which we now embrace vilification and the substitution of ad hominem attacks for policy discussion about ideas and about the danger this poses to capital market participants.
Continue Reading The Calamity of the Weaponized Narrative

Contagion, at least of the buggy sort, can make for a terrific, spooky movie. Remember Gwyneth Paltrow and Matt Damon in Contagion? (Spoiler alert – she dies early on.) Got to admit, I love The Stand and Captain Trips; we all love a good scare… in the movies. In reality, however, contagion means bad things are happening: Bubonic Plague, excess body piercings and the 24 hour news stories (in no particular order). Contagion is very scary.
Continue Reading Contagion

Beany & Cecil was a cartoon.  The Current Expected Credit Loss accounting rules, better known as CECL, which the FASB is insisting will go into effect at the beginning of next year for publicly traded banks and lenders and a year later for all other GAAP reporting entities is not.  Now, heaven forfend that I suggest that the work of the Financial Accounting Standards Board is cartoonish, but there’s a parallel in this pairing of harmless and obscured menace worth noting. 
Continue Reading Beany & CECL

We haven’t written much about Brexit…largely because, for the life of me, I have been unable to embrace, with any conviction, a view as to whether the Europeans will dodge this bullet, as they have dodged so many in the past, or whether chaos will finally ensue.  Then, if chaos ensues, I’m equally clueless about what the contours of the chaos will be; what a hard Brexit will look like.  I am baffled.  And while it is demonstrably true that cluelessness and bloviation are not mutually exclusive, I, perhaps more thin-skinned than most of the chattering class, have been waiting for some sort of an epiphany before I wrote on the topic.

But birds gotta fly, fish gotta swim and us members in good standing of the commentariat gotta prattle on.  Since I’m not convinced I’m going to get any smarter and since this is likely to be one of the seminal economic events of 2019.  I’m diving in.  Might be ugly.  Hide the children.Continue Reading Do I Have to Talk About Brexit?

We published the below commentary, In Defense of Securitization, last week and we are republishing it today as, let’s face it, we’re all getting very French, and many of us took most of last week off.  Enjoy, if that’s the right word.


Returning to the theme of my most recent commentary entitled God Hates Securitization, I want to elaborate on the point I made there (yes, if you stuck with me all the way through to the end, there was a point):  We need to fight the narrative that banking, finance and securitization are evil.  I am afraid that if we don’t do something here soon, we’ll wake up one morning (probably after the next cyclical downturn is underway) and find pitchfork-wielding villagers outside the gates thinking they have found Dr. Frankenstein’s monster.  Populist anger, whipped up by our critics demonizing the financial sector, unfettered from the necessity to defend these positions in the marketplace of ideas and the court of public opinion, is powerful.  That, coupled with our recent embrace of the weaponization of policy disputes enforced by both civil and criminal legal proceeding, should frighten all of us who make our living in the financial sector.  And, to be clear, it should frighten everyone who understands the importance of an efficient and liquid capital market for the continued success of the US economy.
Continue Reading Repost: In Defense of Securitization – Unto the Breach or Close the Wall Up with Our Dead (with Apologies to Mr. Shakespeare)