Last month’s announcement by Newssift (part of the Financial Times Group) of its meaning-based vertical search engine was an important new way to look at search for business professionals – you can quickly see how it’s different if you try it at www.newssift.com.
This morning, Newssift and FirstRain announced that FirstRain’s technology provides the business-relevant content: news, blogs, and other original, authoritative pieces of web content that Newssift consumes. We drive business content into the Newssift search application – here is the press release.
Why does this matter to Newssift? Well at the heart is the quest for quality of search results. If you’ve ever tried to use Google for business research you know how nearly impossible it is. You just get too many old and junky results back so you can’t sort the good from the bad – and so you can’t solve your research problem. In contrast, FirstRain has built its name providing highly relevant finance and market research information, extracted and analyzed from the web, to professional investors and corporate users. This matters because some of the smartest people in the world manage money. They run hedge funds, they manage billions of dollars of assets in mutual funds and pension funds – and they have a lower tolerance for junk or irrelevant data than any other group of users in the world. They have driven us to produce only the highest level of quality of research from the web.
As a result of our user’s demands, we’ve built considerable expertise in the quality of the content coming in which we are now making available to Newssift. The quality and classification of the sources, sorting out useful and authoritative blogs from junky promotional ones. Sorting out the highest quality journalism sources from countries all over the world. And now that content is flowing into Newssift so if you use Newssift you’re getting access to the first stage of the FirstRain advantage.
Newssift has led the way, and other media leaders now have a template. We read daily of publishers of every stripe struggling to build and retain their online audience. Whether it’s a technology trade journal, a leading voice of the blogosphere, an investing website, or a major metro newspaper, new tools are coming up to make the web useful for business research in the new generation of publishing that’s emerging. And Newssift won’t be the last.Exciting times ahead.
“This is really rare,” said Kevin Starke, an analyst at CRT Capital Group LLC, a research company that tracks distressed securities. “It is corporate-bond limbo like I’ve never seen before.”
So how long can this hold out last? How long until the finger (not forcing debtors into bankruptcy) is pulled out of the dam? There is definitely a difference of opinion on whether the problem is the business of the malls themselves, or just too much debt burden – read some point, counterpoint from the UK on this here.
And worse – what will the fallout be beyond commercial real estate? We have many clients using FirstRain in the REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust) research process and as I used FirstRain to understand more about the commercial real estate market my interest was caught by the connection between life insurance and commercial real estate outlined by the Jutia Group. This Crisis is Just Starting to Hit the Headlines where the author predicts the fall:
Take MetLife for example. MetLife has $36 billion worth of direct exposure to commercial real estate… and less than $19 billion of tangible equity. A 25% drop in the value of its commercial real estate holdings would cut tangible equity in half. That would crush the stock.
MetLife isn’t alone. I’ve got my eye on 13 North American insurance companies. And all of them will take large writedowns due to commercial real estate and variable annuity exposures. At least one of them will fail over the next year.
I wish I were wrong about this. And I have nothing against any of the companies involved. Many are well run and, until now, had decent track records as good investors.
But they simply can’t get out of the way. They’re like giant hotels sitting on a sunny tropical shore… with an enormous tsunami headed straight for them.Right now, it’s time to go short on the biggest U.S. life insurance stocks. Definitely a trend to watch.