Tuesday, June 26, 2007


by Tanta on 6/26/2007 12:00:00 PM

I want some of of what the man is smoking:

Well prudence and rating agency standards change with the times, I suppose. What was chaste and AAA years ago may no longer be the case today. Our prim remembrance of Gidget going to Hawaii and hanging out with the beach boys seems to have been replaced in this case with an image of Heidi Fleiss setting up a floating brothel in Beverly Hills. AAA? You were wooed Mr. Moody’s and Mr. Poor’s by the makeup, those six-inch hooker heels, and a “tramp stamp.” Many of these good looking girls are not high-class assets worth 100 cents on the dollar. And sorry Ben, but derivatives are a two-edged sword. Yes, they diversify risk and direct it away from the banking system into the eventual hands of unknown buyers, but they multiply leverage like the Andromeda strain. When interest rates go up, the Petri dish turns from a benign experiment in financial engineering to a destructive virus because the cost of that leverage ultimately reduces the price of assets. Houses anyone?

If I followed all that, somebody just got called a ho.
But look at it this way: using the current default rate of 7% (3-4% total losses), the holders of some BBB investment grade subprime-based CDOs will lose all of their moolah because of the significant leverage. No need to worry about fictitious 100 cents on the dollar marks here. One hundred percent of nothing equals nothing. If subprime total losses hit 10% then even some single-A tranches face the grim reaper. AAA’s? Folks the point is that there are hundreds of billions of dollars of this toxic waste and whether or not they’re in CDOs or Bear Stearns hedge funds matters only to the extent of the timing of the unwind. To death and taxes you can add this to your list of inevitabilities: the subprime crisis is not an isolated event and it won’t be contained by a few days of headlines in The New York Times.

Wow. Maybe Mr. Gross should take a yoga class. He sounds a little stressed out.