Insight: Wall Street slide sends waves across economy


The strains have already started to show in equity capital raising.

Employee benefits management company WageWorks Inc delayed its initial public offering after the heavy stock market losses on Thursday, according to a person familiar with the offering.

The IPO was scheduled for Friday, but it is now expected early next week, the person added.

Shares of specialty finance company American Capital Mortgage Investment Corp <MTGE.O>, which was raising money to invest in mortgage securities and began trading on Thursday, fell almost 8 percent in their debut after the company cut the deal size by more than half.

"We're in a corrective action that will dampen IPOs, which will stall the market, but I think people are reading into this more significance than exists," said Kenneth Fisher, a billionaire investor who oversees $41 billion at Woodside, California-based Fisher Investments Inc.

Still, even big U.S. government-backed companies have struggled to get to market.

Ally Financial, which is planning a $6 billion initial public offering and was hoping at one point to launch the offering in June, then considered the late summer, is now not expected to come to the market before September, sources said.

During the financial crisis the U.S. Treasury poured $17.2 billion into the ailing auto and mortgage lender.

A secondary offering of General Motors Co <GM.N> shares by the U.S. Treasury also looks likely to be later than originally anticipated.

"If you're going to market right now you need money because this is not a great market," that banker added. "Multiples and valuations are bad. Until the market improves or at least stabilizes and the prospects look healthier, I think the capital markets will continue to be anemic."


The stock market decline has taken the shine off bumper recent returns by some state pension funds, many of which face long-term funding shortfalls that ultimately would be state government responsibilities.

Calpers, the nation's largest public pension fund, gained 20.7 percent to $237.5 billion in the fiscal year to June 30. But even that did not return it to its October 2007 peak of $260 billion, and the fund dropped to $233 billion on Wednesday, before Thursday's slide was factored in.

"We have a long-term strategy and we stick to it," said Wayne Davis, a spokesman for the California Public Employees' Retirement System fund, adding that managers had improved risk management since the 2008-2009 financial crisis.

Assets covered only about 60 percent of liabilities at the end of June, and critics say Calpers is too optimistic with a target of 7.75 percent for annual returns. Chief Investment Officer Joe Dear points to an average net return on investments of 8.4 percent over 20 years.

New Jersey's pension fund managed to gain 18 percent in the fiscal year to June 30 by swapping from bonds into now-swooning equities.

"Right around nine months ago, we heavily got out of Treasuries," said Andrew Pratt, spokesman for New Jersey Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff. "That contributed a lot to our gains."

What worries some strategists most though, is that ultra-low yields on bonds could really start to hurt state pension funds and eventually state budgets.

This will be more damaging than any short-term hit from declining stock prices, said Michael Pietronico, chief investment officer at Miller Tabak Asset Management in New York.

"When long bonds go toward a 3.70 percent yield this is more problematic for pensions than many may think at the moment," he said.


Banks have seen their deposits spike in recent days as investors flee into cash from stocks and other higher-risk investments. Increasing deposits would normally be positive as it would provide banks with a cheap source of funding but in the current circumstances has become a problem for some.

It is likely to weaken their capital levels by boosting their liabilities -- and that comes at a time when banks have been struggling to rebuild capital levels that were depleted by the financial crisis and to meet new regulatory standards.

On Thursday, Bank of New York Mellon <BK.N>, citing an overwhelming influx of cash deposits from large clients in reaction to world economic events, said on Thursday it will begin passing along some insurance fees on selected accounts that exceed a depositor's prior monthly average.

The bank, one of the largest custodial banks in the world, said it would impose a fee on above-average deposits made by institutional customers, because the deposits could weaken its capital position and raise its deposit insurance premiums.

Others banks could be forced to impose similar fees, as falling long-term interest rates are reducing the income banks receive on loans that they make. The rates that banks pay depositors are already near zero and can hardly go any lower.

Some customers are going elsewhere to avoid the bank fees.

"This is driving people out of the banking system and into money market accounts," said Peter Crane, president of Crane Data LLC, a Westborough, Massachusetts-based firm that tracks the $2.6 trillion money-market mutual fund industry.

(Additional reporting by Clare Baldwin, Leah Schnurr, Ben Berkowitz, Paritosh Bansal, Michael Erman, Joan Gralla in New York, Scott Malone in Boston, Peter Henderson in San Francisco, editing by Martin Howell)