Financial Market Update-Mon., Oct. 27

Friday didn’t see the stock-market collapse that had been predicted, so investors are going have another go at it again today, after seeing Asian and European stocks decline, and spending the weekend mulling the best ways to continue the panic. Sell! Everything! Now! (and then Buy Yen!) was supposed to be the order of the day. But so far, as of early afternoon, the DJIA is about even, after a morning of mild rises. The Nasdaq and the S&P 500 are both down a little. What are banks doing with their recapitalization windfalls? The subject bubbled to the surface over the weekend, and the consensus was, not lending it to anyone. Hoarding it, maybe. Or using it for that long-awaited acquisition. Or even (and particularly galling) executive bonuses. Congress will probably look into the matter further after the elections, and might decide that few-strings attached money for banks is an idea that needs some revising. But how? In any case, the recapitalization continues apace. BB&T Corp. is getting $3.1 billion in return for preferred stock that pays 5 percent for the first five years, and 9 percent for the sixth through tenth years. What will the Winston-Salem, NC, bank do with the dough? No word yet, but BB&T is well known for snapping up weak rivals. Banks aren’t the only ones eligible for the loot, either. The White House has said that the finance arms of U.S. automakers, which have come down with the economic equivalent of double pneumonia lately, might be too. The astonishing fact is that both GM and Chrysler, according to the Wall Street Journal, could run out of cash by the end of the year. Yields on commercial paper are up. Thirty-day commercial paper rose today to 2.88 percent, a 25-basis point increase, as the Fed began buying the debt directly from companies. According to Bloomberg, the market for 30-day paper has contracted by fully 20 percent since Lehman Bros. went belly up, its worst slump ever. If it’s Monday, this must be Hungary. This must be Hungary getting a loan from the International Monetary Fund, that is. Last week, it was Iceland, for $2.1 billion. On Sunday — it obviously couldn’t wait — the IMF bailed out the Ukraine to the tune of $16.3 billion. Soon, Hungary will be getting about $12.5 billion, according to Forbes.Finally, some good news — or maybe a dead-cat bounce — sales of new houses in the U.S. actually rose in September, up 2.7 percent compared with the same month a year ago. Lower prices are thought to be the main driver, but it probably will be a short trend. Since mid-September, banks have been a lot more skittish about making mortgage loans.