Key Drivers of the Financial Industry
Financial services companies are subject to extensive governmental regulation, which may limit both the amounts and types of loans and other financial commitments they can make, the interest rates and fees they can charge, the scope of their activities, the prices they can charge and the amount of capital they must maintain. Profitability is largely dependent on the availability and cost of capital funds, and can fluctuate significantly when interest rates change or due to increased competition.
In addition, the recent deterioration of the credit markets generally has caused an adverse impact in a broad range of markets, including U.S. and international credit and interbank money markets generally, thereby affecting a wide range of financial institutions and markets. Recent events in the financial sector have resulted, and may continue to result, in an unusually high degree of volatility in the financial markets, both domestic and foreign. Numerous financial services companies have experienced substantial declines in the valuations of their assets, taken action to raise capital (such as the issuance of debt or equity securities), or even ceased operations.
Credit losses resulting from financial difficulties of borrowers and financial losses associated with investment activities can negatively impact the sector. Insurance companies may be subject to severe price competition. Adverse economic, business or political developments affecting real estate could have a major effect on the value of real estate securities (which include REITs). Declining real estate values could adversely affect financial institutions engaged in mortgage finance or other lending or investing activities directly or indirectly connected to the value of real estate.