Yes, A Bankruptcy Cycle Exists

Whitehall Jewelers filed Chapter 11 today in yet another reminder to the investment community that a bankruptcy cycle does, in fact, exist. I'm amazed at how short the Street's memories are. People seem to be looking back to the past three years when it was safe to own over-levered, junky consumer names, and think/know that there would ultimately be a strategic or financial bid at some price.

Maybe that was a safe bet in 2005 and 2006 - and even the first half of 2007. But this was a rather unique period. Let's put on our historical hats on for a moment. Looking back all the way to 1934 (when FDIC data first became available) there was at least one (and usually multiple) financial institution bankruptcy filing in every single year, except - you guessed it - 2005 and 2006.

Now that's ticking up again, and yes, these are the same institutions that lend to businesses and consumers alike. As such, retailers like Linens'n'Things, Sharper Image, Goody's, and now Whitehall are paying the price. I cannot possibly imagine that the buck stops here.

Hang on folks, there's more to come...