5 Articles You've Got to Read

There's a lot of information out there. Some of it is junk, some of it is frame-worthy. For every dozen foam-spewing-from-mouth rants out there, there's a well-thought-out, factual, logical piece of work that deserves your attention.

Here are five you might enjoy: 

Wells Fargo on Interest Rate Risk (Calculated Risk)
If you've wondered why Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC  ) consistently dominates competitors like Citigroup (NYSE: C  ) , this is a good example why. In a conference call, CFO Howard Atkins notes why Wells is staying away from the short-term urge to exploit the yield curve. "We are effectively giving up 400 basis points today for possibly a year or so, maybe plus or minus, to avoid the potential risk of a larger number of basis points for 30 years. So the last thing we want to do is get stuck with securities at these low levels of interest rates."

Debt and Deleveraging: The Global Credit Bubble and its Consequences (McKinsey)
This is a long, wonkish paper filled with 94 pages of pretty numbers, but it's very convincing if you're willing to read through it. If not, here's the conclusion: "Historic deleveraging episodes have been painful, on average lasting six to seven years and reducing the ratio of debt to GDP by 25 percent. GDP typically contracts during the first several years and then recovers."

Record Cash Means S&P 500 at Half its 2007 Valuation (Bloomberg)
Eat this, doomsayers. Measured by price-to-cash-flow, the S&P 500 is half-price compared with 2007. The article uses Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) , Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT  ) , and UPS (NYSE: UPS  ) as examples of companies trading for historically low cash-flow multiples even while earnings multiples soar. An admirable way to look at investing, although some might say it's an example of bulls reaching as hard as they can to justify valuations.

Unfunded Benefits Dig States' $3 Trillion Hole (Bloomberg)
There's so much venom thrown at Washington's budget woes (for good reason) without nearly enough criticism of how positively wrecked some state and local budgets are. A great rundown and a really important article.

State Regulators Warn Of Failing Foreclosure Prevention Efforts (Huffington Post)
A good read with plenty of helpful charts arguing mortgage modification efforts are failing because they rarely reduce a borrower's principal balance. "Given the correlation between negative equity and likelihood of default, the failure to write down principal in connection with loan modifications is a glaring flaw in current efforts."

Got any others? Feel free to share them in the comments section below.

Fool contributor Morgan Housel doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. United Parcel Service is a Motley Fool Income Investor pick. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


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  • Report this Comment On January 21, 2010, at 4:41 PM, jmsp8 wrote:

    Thanks, Short but informative points. I have a better understanding after reading.... Don't agree with # 5- but I don't have a under water loan. How/why will this world function when we all have Entitlement ?

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