Meredith Whitney was recently on CNBC (the video is provided below) discussing the banks and financials. Some observations from the interview include:

  • This will be a tactical quarter for the banks.
  • She has a bullish call on Goldman Sachs, but a bearish call on financial stocks in general.
  • A huge refinance wave will create the "Mother-of-all" mortgage quarters, boosting earnings for the quarter for many banks, even though business in general is not getting better.
  • Core earnings numbers may not be very good, but below the line numbers will be good due to all the mortgage activity. This will result in huge moves in tangible book value for the banks, even with unimpressive earnings numbers. These stocks trade on multiples of tangible book.
  • A move from $18 billion in incentives to $75 billion in incentives to modify mortgages, with less modification liability, could cause some banks move 15% short-term.
  • Mortgage modification numbers will increase logarithmically, causing past dues to become current, and allowing the banks to receive fees for the modifications.
  • As a result of the fees and less litigation due to the current legislation, banks may even seek to modify mortgages which have not yet defaulted, or are not yet past due.
  • Bank of America (BAC) is the cheapest of the banks, based on tangible book value (excluding Citi).
  • Bank solvency has been off the table for a few quarters now, but main street has not been helped by the financial bailouts as much. A lot of refinancing is occurring, but not a lot of new lending. The new legislation and increased risk aversion is actually providing less access to credit.
  • The next couple of years will be debt market-focused due to the tsunami of debt issuance needed to pay-off current spending.
  • She also mentioned in the discussion (not included in the CNBC online video) that unemployment could reach toward 13%.

    Source: CNBC Video