Things To Be Thankful For ... No Really

A year ago, I wrote a column highlighting, in honor of the Thanksgiving holiday, some reasons for our markets to be thankful. I mean, it all seemed so dreary then. Consumer and investor confidence down, high yield bond deals pulled, leveraged loans trading at 95…

You know, Nirvana. At least compared to where we find ourselves now, which hopefully isn’t on a musty closet floor, curled up in the fetal position, whimpering.

As dire as the situation looked a year ago, no one imagined then how 2008 would come to epitomize bad to worse to what the f---! That the decrease in consumer and investor confidence might deteriorate into full-fledged panic; that the high yield loan and bond primaries would be wiped out; that an asset class as solid as leveraged loans would see trading averages in the 60s.

So what exactly do we have to feel thankful for? Because I care so deeply about your mental health—really, I do—I will tell you.

1) The government’s mega-bailout agreement with Citigroup; 2) the entrance of pension and sovereign wealth fund investors into the loan market (which you can read about in detail in our front page story by Richard Kellerhals); and 3) a survey by IntraLinks that showed that, debt market or not, energy companies plan
to continue moving forward in the realm of alternative energy.

More on number three: Apparently, IntraLinks polled a group of energy executives during a recent webcast and found that, while more than half believed funding will be harder to obtain in 2009 than in 2008, 69% said their organizations still plan to invest in the development or financing of renewable energy projects in the next
12 months.

Each of these examples represents a form of stepping up, of forward-looking thinking, even optimism, that should cheer high yield loan and bond market participants. The government looked at Citigroup and did what needed to be done to keep that flailing behemoth from sinking, and thus sent the bank’s and other bank stocks soaring. Investors who have not been your typical loan players in the past see value in the asset class (likely because there is value). And energy companies are keeping alternative energy research and development on track because they realize this progress cannot stop, both in terms of their pocketbooks and the environment. Mark my words, even though their executives believe financing will be harder to come by, these are the companies debt investors will be investing in 2009.

But if none of this works for you, I ask you to remember our friends the Pilgrims, who arrived in this country in 1620. By the fall of 1621, half of them were dead. And you’re not.

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