And so the sovereign exposure that was perfectly innocent according to three previous press releases from Jefferies, has just been offloaded to some other bank, which has a bigger market cap and "won't be cause for major alarm."
Jefferies announced today that its trading positions in the sovereign securities of the nations of Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece, and Spain have been reduced by an aggregate of approximately $1.1 billion long and $1.1 billion short. This represents a 49.5% reduction in Jefferies’ gross holdings of these securities since the close of business Friday and resulted in no meaningful profit or loss on today’s trading activity or our remaining positions, which continue to be substantially matched by country and maturity.
Jefferies’ current net exposure to these sovereign securities is currently $59 million, or 1.7% of shareholder equity, with negligible market or credit risk.
“We undertook this reduction in our holdings solely to demonstrate the liquid nature of this market-making trading book,” said Richard Handler, Chairman and CEO, and Brian Friedman, Chairman of the Executive Committee of Jefferies, in a joint statement. “We will now resume our normal market-making activities and serve our clients around the world.”
Thank you Jefferies for offloading shareholder risk onto someone dumber. And now, all this action has done is made any PIIGS exposure on any bank balance sheet, gross or net (and yes, Gross exposure apparently is a risk factor in an of itself, and the market is starting to ignore all lies about bilateral netting), an immediate excuse to sell off stocks right into the circuit breaker. Look for the vigilantes to comb through any and every 10-Q with a fine tooth comb and punish any bank that still has any exposure gross or net. Our only question remaining re: Jefferies is what was the P&L hit on this liquidation?