Thursday, March 12, 2009

Counterparty Risk: Mortgage Insurers Again

by Calculated Risk on 3/12/2009 05:20:00 PM

A couple of mortgage insurer stories ...

From the WSJ: MBIA's Split of Businesses Raises Ire of Banks, Hedge Funds

Representatives of about 15 financial institutions will meet Thursday with New York State Insurance Superintendent Eric Dinallo to complain about MBIA Inc.'s decision to split its bond-insurance unit into two companies...

The group includes many banks that feel disadvantaged by MBIA's move last month to separate its municipal-bond insurance business from its commitments to insure mortgage-backed bonds and other structured securities. The banks are counterparties to MBIA on derivatives called credit-default swaps that were written on securities they own ... These institutions were left holding contracts with a financially weaker insurer when MBIA transferred about $5 billion in capital from its main unit to another company that guarantees only U.S. municipal bonds.
And from Dow Jones (no link): MGIC Dn 35% As Payment-Deferral Points To Liquidity Issues
MGIC Investment Corp. ... said in a late-Wednesday regulatory filing it deferred its interest payment on some debentures by 10 years.

The filing, which revealed MGIC is likely having liquidity issues ...

... Fitch Ratings put its credit ratings on MGIC and two of its units on watch for possible downgrade Thursday. ... Mortgage insurers such as MGIC cover potential lender losses on loans to borrowers who can't come up with a 20% down payment. The sector continues to struggle with soaring claims and declining new business ...
Actually the mortgage insurers were lucky - they were cut out of the worst deals because Wall Street happily securitized 100% financing with 2nds and no MI. But the losses are still piling up. And so are the counterparty risks ...