Stress in banking hitting peaks

Two key indicators point towards continued problems in the financial industry. One indicator is bank debt.

(Bloomberg) -- Bank debt is as stressed as when Bear Stearns Cos. had to be bailed out and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. collapsed, according to analysts at BNP Paribas SA.

The CHART OF THE DAY shows contracts on the Markit iTraxx Financial index of credit-default swaps linked to the senior debt of 25 banks and insurers were more expensive today than the Markit iTraxx Europe corporate index. That hasn’t happened since Lehman went bankrupt in September and, before that, JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s takeover of Bear Stearns and it reflects “systemic stress” in the financial system, according to BNP Paribas.

“We’re seeing the start of the next leg of the crisis and that’s going to be financial bondholders taking a haircut as lenders default,” said Mehernosh Engineer, a London-based strategist at BNP Paribas. “There’s been a perception that banks’ senior bondholders are untouchable but that’s going to change.”

The other indicator is the Libor.

(Bloomberg) -- The cost of borrowing in dollars for three months in London rose for an 11th day as banks sought cash to cover their commitments through the end of the first quarter.

The London interbank offered rate, or Libor, that banks say they charge each other for such loans climbed two basis points to 1.33 percent, the highest level since Jan. 8, the British Bankers’ Association said. The Libor-OIS spread, a gauge of bank reluctance to lend, increased to the most since Jan. 9.

Today's stock market rally may be just a head-fake. Those often happen in bear markets.

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Bank of America and GE Capital

issued a combined $16.5 billion of debt guaranteed by FDIC. Guess the bond rating? That is right - AAA. Certainly because of FDIC guarantee.