Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Business News Networks

Having recently started a job, I've been bummed about the recent economic news.  Being new means I have very little job security.  So, I tune into the business news channels to look at the Futures contracts on the various exchanges.  If the Dow futures are up .5%, it means the Dow will likely go up right away when the markets open for full trading the next day.

You know what I've noticed about the "business" news channels?  The focus on the stock market.  If a company is really both debt (bonds) and stocks, then should (maybe) half the news be about the corporate bond market?  Of course, of course, bonds don't change nearly as much, and the business news does report ratings upgrades and downgrades.  But when they talk about a company, it might be nice to say something like
12,000,000 shares of stock outstanding currently trading at 2$/share with an earnings per share of 25 cents.
100,000,000 of bonds outstanding trading at 99.58 (of face value) and with a yield of 4.8%
For those that don't know, if a company declares bankruptcy, the bondholders are paid back first, then the stockholders share whatever is left.  The extra risk of stocks is related to the potential extra reward.  A ratings downgrade means the ratings agencies think the company has a decreased chance of paying back its debts, so they should be charged more (i.e. pay a higher interest rate) when they issue bonds.  Preferred stock gets paid off (in a bankruptcy situation) before regular stock, but also has less upside potential than common (voting) stock, and there is some type of bond that is riskier than all the rest, but still more secure than all stock, called subordinated debt (it gets paid off after all other bondholders) but I don't know if there is much of a public market in that.

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