We’ve expanded our coverage today to include a number of topics our customers have been requesting to help them with their fixed income investing.
There are two major new areas covered
- Municipal bonds – this includes adding research on the bonds themselves, government infrastructure plans which are critical for modeling the risk on the bonds, municipal budget activity and job and employment trends – all tagged by state so you can just see research for the states you are interested in. In addition, we already have significant real estate coverage and so we’re tying that into the real estate impact on the tax base. More later – but we’ve introduced FirstRain content widgets onto http://www.firstrain.com/ for the first time and you can see samples of the type of data we’re finding in the Municipal Credit Crisis box.
- Corporate debt – this includes our usual coverage of companies and markets, but now extended to include the topics that would impact the risk of the bonds and convertible securities.
The second area is a new trend for many traditional equity investors. They wouldn’t have invested in corporate debt in the past but there is a new combination of events making it compelling. We have a number of hedge fund clients who look at the volatility of the equities markets and then compare them to the relative security – and significant rates of return like 15%+ available on some converts. Given that comparison – 15% from a senior convertible note or a crap shoot investing in the stock they understandably want to get research to help them decide on the risk profile of the convert. (If you are a Cadence employee/investor the Cadence converts are good examples of this trade off).
Who is benefitting from a down stock market, millions of lay offs, and a depressing economy? It turns out there are pockets that are doing really well – like entertainment vendors, consumers in the market for discounted luxury goods, and global online auction websites, particularly China.
The reason is that the level of unemployment and the huge losses of personal wealth positively affect some businesses. For example, video games, consoles and accessories grew 29% in 2008 and the online game website Big Fish Games sales grew 70% — but even more than that the number of subscribers has jumped 110% since September (when the layoffs really started) and Big Fish has 30 job openings. Overall visitors to online game sites grew 30% – that’s what happens when people suddenly have a lot of time on their hands. You can read the WSJ’s take on it here.
But it’s not just gaming that’s growing. Sites that help the newly income-challenged sell their luxury goods at bargain basement prices – like Craigslist and eBay – have increased traffic. www.portero.com helps you auction off those gently used luxury goods (that your spouse told you not to buy in the first place) starting at 85% off. Of course if you want a jet, a yacht or even a Rolex you can now go to www.jameslist.com which caters to those of you looking for super high-end luxury goods.
Seriously though, the growth in auction sites is being seen globally — for example Analysys International reports that China’s C2C online retail market grew 140% in 2008 to approx $16.4 billion (U.S.) and is expected to reach $56.7 billion (U.S.) by 2011.
Looks like unemployment and the subsequent bargain hunting has a silver lining for the sites that help consumers amuse themselves and save money at the same time.