We all have heard that one of the big culprits in the credit crisis was the collateralized debt obligation (CDO). CDOs are notes backed by baskets or cohorts of different types of receivables. The notes can be backed by residential mortgages, or commercial mortgages, or student loans, or credit card receivables or auto loans, etc (or a mixture of all the above). It is the cash flows from those receivables, not some end borrower, that services the CDO notes, i.e. pays interest and amortizes the principal on the notes.

I don’t want to go into the details about CDOs here or their role in the credit crisis because many other writers have gone into this exhaustively elsewhere. Suffice to say CDOs (or asset backed financing/securitizations) are actually very important and effective ways of financing certain receivables pools (of effecting what is known as ‘non-recourse’ finance). And yet there were fairly obvious issues with many CDO structures before the crisis: their excessive structural complexity (the notes were broken into too many tranches); the questionable credit quality of the underlying assets; the use of too many different types of underlying receivables; the fact that those rating the notes (the rating agencies) were effectively in bed with the originators of the notes; the overly aggressive selling methods of CDO tranches by swarms of brokers; etc. (read more…)

Welcome to Day 3 of SmartBrief’s roundup of financial news coming out of the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

Blankfein on the reality of regulation: Goldman Sachs chairman and CEO Lloyd Blankfein told CNBC his firm is always thinking about regulation and how it affects things like technology acquisition. On whether banks are under regulatory assault, Blankfien responded, “No choice, no problem. I don’t have to sit here and ruminate on about whether its good or its bad or I like it or not. It is what it is.”

‘Pandemic bonds’ could be a panacea for next pandemic: Gillian Tett writes in the Financial Times writes about the concept of ‘pandemic bonds’ aimed at helping finance more effective and efficient responses to global health crises. The idea, which is backed by World Bank boss Jim Kim, would see bonds issued to help governments, NGOs and other organization,. “This could help cash-strapped governments finance measures to beat disease,” Tett writes. (read more…)

APPrise Mobile’s platform for investor-relations communications is designed to help companies, whether large or small, create native applications that supply the target audience with a wealth of crucial information, said Jeff Corbin, APPrise’s founder and CEO.

“Public companies needed a communications solution to inform or ‘apprise’ their investors on their mobile phones and tablets,” Corbin said in an e-mail interview. “TheIRapp was created to solve this problem. It was developed to be a cost-effective, easy-to-implement solution that would provide public companies with their own branded app available on the Apple App Store and Google Play.”

More than 125 companies are using the company’s investor-relations app solution, while the number of investors who have downloaded one or more of APPrise customers’ apps has surpassed 75,000, he said. (read more…)

A collection of stories from SmartBrief publications and around the web…

Gold? Silver? Or Bronze?: From a commodity standpoint, which type of Olympic medal would you prefer? As the medal count keeps climbing in Sochi, OpenMarkets offers an analysis of which medal … err, metal … is really most valuable.

When Wall Street helps: Great story about a former JPMorgan hedge fund banker halting his finance career to lead the charge in funding research to cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy to save his son. Ilan Ganot did what any dad would do; and his friends in finance have stepped up to help.

Branding and fees breed breakage: Consumers have not forgotten the financial crisis. And traditional banks increasing fees for basic services like checking and ATMs equates to inviting customers to leave. So when beloved, non-financial brands like Starbucks and Google unveil financial services offerings, it is no wonder they capture market share. (read more…)

Best-Practice EVABennett Stewart is an expert in shareholder value and corporate performance management, and CEO of EVA Dimensions, a financial technology firm that provides software tools, databases and training and support packages that help companies to test and automate Best-Practice EVA, and investors to earn excess returns. This article was excerpted with permission from the publisher, John Wiley & Sons, from “Best-Practice EVA” (March 2013).

Every business leader needs a way to amplify his or her business instincts and galvanize a team of players to win. The bad news is, conventional financial metrics will inevitably mislead business leaders and their teams into making suboptimal decisions that leave a lot of value on the table because all the measures have blind spots — they hide the truth or tell half-truths.

Earnings, for instance, can easily be inflated with balance sheet investments that don’t earn a decent return, and ROI-fixated companies will limit investments to the highest returns and forfeit lots of profitable growth opportunities that would increase the firm’s value. (read more…)