Dead Men Walking

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This post is a guest contribution by Bennet Sedacca*, President of Atlantic Advisors Asset Management

Dead Man Walking – Originally, a phrase in a poem by Thomas Hardy in 1909, but later in a work of non-fiction by Sister Helen Prejean, A Roman catholic nun and one of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Medaille. Prejean later wrote ‘Dead Man Walking’, which became a hit movie in 1995. The title comes from the traditional exclamation “dead man walking, dead man walking here” used by prison guards as the condemned are led to their execution.

Death RowA term that refers to the section of a prison that houses individuals awaiting execution. It is also used to refer to the state of awaiting execution, even in places where a special section does not exist. As of 2008, there were 3,263 prisoners awaiting execution in the United States.

The Last Mile“I guess sometimes the past just catches up to you, whether you want it to or not. Usually death row is called ‘The Last Mile’. We call ours ‘The Green Mile’ – the floor was the color of faded limes.” – Tom Hanks as Paul Edgecomb in ‘The Green Mile’.

Are There Corporations that are “Dead Men Walking”?
The title of this piece sums up how I feel about the current credit markets. When I first started in the industry in 1981 we were worried, but only about one company – the Chrysler Corporation. Prior to that, Continental Illinois was in the forefront. Later in my career, in 1998, it was Long Term Capital Management, the hedge fund founded by John Meriwether that captured our attention. Then we had Enron/WorldCom, and by early 2008 Bear Stearns became a worry and then a problem that needed fixing.

All of these events were isolated, dealt with, often with either direct assistance from Uncle Sam or an effort coordinated by our benevolent/socialist government financial authorities. Markets would become unnerved, fear would grow, and then the Government would step in to make sure that the systemic risk that had finally come to the surface didn’t melt the entire planet. But this is where it is “different this time”. Not only is it different, I think it may be unprecedented in nature. When I look at my Bloomberg monitor each day that contains my 100 most important indices, companies, commodities, bonds, bond spreads, preferred shares, etc, I shudder. The reason I shudder is that my screen doesn’t have just one “problem child”. It looks like a screen that contains many “dead men walking.

Click here for Bennet’s full report.

* President of Atlantic Advisors Asset Management, Bennet Sedacca brings with him more than 26 years of securities industry experience. From 1981 to 1997 he worked for several major investment banks, specializing in high-grade fixed-income securities marketing, trading and portfolio management. While working for PaineWebber as a Senior Vice- president, Bennet was a member of the Chairman’s Council for four consecutive years. During his years with Salomon Smith Barney as a Vice-president, he established an institutional fixed income presence in Central Florida.

In 1997, Bennet formed Sedacca Capital Management focusing on portfolio management for high-net worth individuals and small to mid-sized institutions. He is also a contributor to the financial website, and is regularly quoted in Wall Street Journal Online, Barron’s and Bloomberg.

Bennet graduated from Rutgers University in 1982 with a degree in Economics and was a member of the International Honor Society of Economics.


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3 comments to Dead Men Walking

  • Jason Pinto

    Mr. du Plessis,
    I appreciate very much your summaries and daily notes. What I find interesting is that most credible sources are all saying the same thing – there is serious trouble in the financial system and it is not being addressed. The troubling thing is markets seem to be either in denial or just plain on vacation. I don’t know what catalyst is required to force a reckoning with the gravity of the situation. The events leading to these often written about scenarios are incremental but the general road map remains relatively clear and scary.

    Today the FDIC is reported to have already been asking for more money from the government. I will bet this is ignored as a ominous sign as well.

    Please keep up your good work.

  • Larry

    Repeat of JM’s “Outside the Box”.

  • Larry: Some duplication from time to time is inevitable. Although John is a business partner and our readers overlap to a certain extent, there are quite a large number of Investment Postcards readers not (yet) reading John’s newsletter. I will probably be posting Bennet’s articles fairly regularly under “Guest Posts” as I rate his work very highly.

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