Structured Finance

Weekly Chartology - Even David Kostin Says To Watch Out After Best September In 70 Years

David Kostin, traditionally the most optimistic person in the world after A.Joseph Cohen warns clients that the best market performance September in 70 years may be a one-time event, and that in advance of another turn in economic indicators, it may be prudent to lock in profits. "Looking ahead we see the potential for US-MAP readings to again turn negative. Our US Economists expect the two MAP inputs with the highest relevance scores (US ISM and non-farm payrolls) to weaken into year-end. If realized that outlook would be negative for US equities and consistent with our more defensive sector weights." Nonetheless, it is pretty obvious that the apocalypse is now firmly priced in. And as we all know now, the only entity that everyone is frontrunning is the Fed, becase as Tepper so well put it, stock can only go up. That said, Zero Hedge Structured Finance, in collaboration with some very secret and anonymous hedge funds, has some Arizona-desert bridge backed CDOs to sell to Mr Tepper and everyone else buying that gobbledygook.

How Goldman's Counterparty Valuation Adjustment (CVA) Desk Saved The Firm From An AIG Blow Up (And Opens Up A Whole New Can Of Wormy Questions)

In today's NYT, Gretchen Morgenson does a good summary of how Goldman was demonstratively net short net short AIG (or net long its CDS, depending how one looks at it) via nearly 100 counterparties to the tune of just over $1.7 billion in net notional, after Chuck Grassley released several previously classified documents disclosing Goldman's CDS position as of September 15, 2008, the day of Lehman's bankruptcy. As Gretchen summarizes: "According to the document, Goldman held a total of $1.7 billion in insurance on A.I.G. from almost 90 institutions. Its exposure to A.I.G. at that time was $2.6 billion. Goldman bought most of the insurance from large foreign and domestic banks, including Credit Suisse ($310 million), Morgan Stanley ($243 million) and JPMorgan Chase ($216 million). Goldman also bought $223 million in insurance on A.I.G. from a variety of funds overseen by Pimco, the money management firm." While the topic of how the world's biggest asset management firm in the face of Pimco (and specifically its massive Total Return Fund) could have a net short CDS position (i.e., unlimited downside exposure), and how this is supposed to demonstrate prudent capital management, is ripe for evisceration, we will leave it for another day, as there is something more notable in the Grassley disclosure that has to be discussed. While Gretchen is correct that the external position of Goldman's exposure vis-a-vis AIG is indeed a total of $1.7 billion in long CDS, if one were to actually present the gross number, the truth would be starker: as the Grassley document reveals, the firm's gross exposure for its IG flow and structured finance desks goes from a positive $1.7 billion net exposure, to a ($2.9) billion net exposure, a massive $4.8 billion swing! What is it that in one fell swoop moved the firm from having a huge long bet on AIG, to a major short CDS position, one that nearly entirely covered the firm's $2.6 billion in legacy risk exposure? Enter Goldman's Counterparty Valuation Adjustment desk.

Barclays Slaughters Goldman, Cuts Q2 2010 EPS By 65% To $1.95 From $5.35 Previously, $4.29 Street Consensus

From Barclays: "Financial market conditions have deteriorated notably since 1Q10, evidenced by sharply wider credit spreads, cash-derivative basis, declines in structured finance indices, sharply higher volatility and a "flight-to-safety" trade in less risky assets. We believe this market dislocation, while certainly smaller than the dislocations seen in 2008 and early 2009, has impacted broker-dealer revenue generation in terms of client activity levels, trading revenue and investment banking results. Additionally, we believe that 2Q results will be more divergent across the Street, driven more by relative positioning for the moves this quarter." The key reasons for the Barclays cut: "The largest downward revisions are in lower core FICC (-40% seq to $4.49bn, -$1.18 EPS), lower core equities (-40% seq to $1.4bn, -$0.75 EPS), weaker investment banking (-37% seq to $743mm, -$0.39 EPS) and the inclusion of$650mm of UK bonus tax (-$0.90 EPS)." The Q2 financial earning season just got interesting.

S&P Downgrades All Greek RMBS And ABS To A; Sees 2008 GDP Returning In 2017

Austerity measures to correct fiscal imbalances in the Greek economy are in our view likely to further depress Greece's medium-term economic growth prospects. Our assessment of these economic prospects is factored into the current 'BB+' long-term sovereign rating on the Hellenic Republic. Under our revised assumptions, we expect real GDP to be nearly flat over 2009-2016, while the level of nominal GDP may not return to the 2008 level until 2017. While we believe that this would be the case for Greek structured finance transactions we rate, we also consider that risks affecting these transactions have increased materially due to heightened country risk that is in part reflected in the 'BB+' sovereign rating on the Hellenic Republic. As a result, the likelihood that these transactions could experience an unusually large adverse change in credit quality has also increased in our view. Therefore, we are limiting the maximum achievable rating for structured finance transactions backed by Greek assets to 'A'. - Standard And Poors

Moody's Downgrades Greek Covered Bonds

Good thing the ECB (and the IMF) no longer cares about what the Geiger counter reading on its collateralized assets is any longer. The rating agency which also has the last A-rated Greek rating is reviewing the Greek sovereign rating for further downgrades. Mortgage covered bonds of NBG, Alpha, Marfin and EFG Eurobank downgraded to A1. All on review for further possible downgrades.

With Greece Bankrupt, Moody's Is Fully Awake Now, Takes "Negative Rating Action" On Greek Covered Bonds

Moody's Investors Service has taken the following rating actions on covered bonds issued by Greek banks:
 
- Mortgage covered bonds issued by National Bank of Greece S.A. ("NBG"): Downgraded to Aa2 and placed on review for further downgrade; previously on 31 March 2010 downgraded to Aa1;
 
- Mortgage covered bonds issued by Alpha Bank S.A. ("Alpha"): Aa2 placed on review for possible downgrade;  Previously on 31 March 2010 downgraded to Aa2;
 
- Mortgage covered bonds issued by EFG Eurobank Ergasias S.A. ("EFG Eurobank"): Aa2 placed on review for possible downgrade; previously on 31 March 2010 confirmed at Aa2.

Guest Post: Goldman's Blueprint For Dumping Toxic Assets: How These CDOs Were Designed To Fail

"Although Goldman Sachs held various positions in residential mortgage-related products in 2007, our short positions were not a 'bet against our clients.'"

That claim, from Goldman's letter to its shareholders,
is easily refuted. The S.E.C. has brought fraud charges on one of
Goldman deals known as synthetic subprime mezzanine collateralized debt
obligations, or CDOs. While most of these deals remain shrouded in
secrecy, one of them, Anderson Mezzanine Funding 2007, Ltd.
lays out its blueprint in sufficient detail so that we can pinpoint how
and why this transaction's failure was never in doubt.

Financial Lexicon 101: Summary Of Key Terms

Even as Bank of America is preparing to restart securitization and thus provide the single greatest gift to creditors the world over, as this is merely the first step in wiping out/transferring yet more trillions in private sector debt, it has done the public a bigger favor by compiling the following list of key terms for all those lost in the current labyrinth of definitions,acronyms and euphemisms. Since following the Goldman legal plight will require a facility with some heretofore quite complex constructs, the following catalog is a must read for all financial novices.

Germany To Add To Goldman's Headaches, Prepares To Sue Firm

The Pandora's box of the SEC's action against Goldman, which if validated in court will effectively make the issuance of every hybrid CDO product quasi-illegal, will lead to an explosion of lawsuits against virtually any bank that was active in the structured finance space during the housing boom, adding to a fresh round of "non-recurring" charges to bank income statements. Case in point - Welt am Sonntag reports that the German government is considering suing Goldman Sachs, and has asked the SEC for information in its fraud case against the firm. According to the WSJ a spokesman for Angel Merkel said earlier: "First we must ask for the documents, then evaluate [them] and then decide about legal steps." The action stems from the SEC's disclosure the German IKB may have been illegally "taken advantage of" through Abacus, and probably other CDO transactions, leading to losses of $150 million. In 2007 IKB had to be bailed out by the German government, in what some claim was the preamble to banking crisis that is now enveloping Europe (not sure if the sovereign catastrophe facing the EMU can also be blamed on Goldman's CDO transactions, although Goldman will surely also be sued for that sooner or later). We have seen how eager Europe has been to scapegoat "speculators" and other Wall Street actors. We are positive that Germany will surely pursue action against Goldman as it will now provide a vent to pent up popular hatred of how the government has handled the crisis. At the end of the day, even if the SEC's overture is nothing but a pr stunt cleverly orchestrated by Emmanuel Rahm, the unexpected fallout may well be where the real action is.

CNBC Guest Tells Truth, Calls Cramer Shallow, Is Yanked Off Air

Any time Erin Burnett tells a guest "You will not be back, you have to be more polite than that" you know the "guest" is telling the truth, the one commodity rarely if ever discussed on General Electric's circus station. Enter (or rather, exit) R&R Consulting's Sylvain Raynes, a structured finance expert, who at 3:10 into the clip takes on what he calls the "public relations officers" for Goldman, and asks "is it all right if I am a little critical?" Apparently the answer is no. First, Sylvain completely destroys Cramer's false "breaking news" about Goldman being long Abacus, using the same logic we discussed earlier: "It's quite possible that Goldman had an equity position, they probably wrote it off on the closing date. So they stood to lose a few million and make a few hundred million... Goldman was clearly in the know, they knew what they were doing. In fact, if they are defending themselves against a fraud charge they will have to make a case that they didn't know. I think too highly of Goldman Sachs to think that they didn't know what they were doing... These deals were made to be shorted." And the kicker "We don't have time to go into details, I want to remain shallow in deference to Mr. Cramer." At which point all hell breaks loose and the Goldman alumni just blow their collective lids. Best CNBC comedy since the Pisani-Liesman/Jeff Macke chronicles.

Cramer "Breaks" News About Goldman Being Long Abacus, No Disclosure On Goldman's Short Exposure In The Structured Product

Cramer has just come to the rescue of this former co-workers at Goldman, claiming a "source" has notified him that Goldman was "long" Abacus. Well, duh - that's how structured finance works. They are long one tranche and short another. Cramer should also immediately provide "factual" information to all those who may have bought Goldman on his BS, whether Goldman was in fact net short via CDS with AIG... Yeah, remember that whole thing about Goldman being short CDOs via CDS underwritten by AIG? Apparently it slipped the mind of Cramer's source. This is yet another semantic loophole abused by the world's greatest wealth destroying stock pumper. And by the way, Jim, take a look at the CDOs that Goldman had protection on AIG with before you "break" any more news, and find out what Goldman's exposure really was: because our sources tell us Goldman was short. Also, this is not even remotely a "game changer" at all, because the SEC's contention has nothing do with whether Goldman was shorting the CDO, but how the CDO was designed in the first place, with the explicit purpose of benefiting one party whose material involvement was not disclosed, and in fact was misrepresented!

Guest Post: The Longer Trend

Alas, it has been five years since I attempted to write and then publish a meaningful trend forecast. In hindsight those forecasts proved to be more predictive than I ever expected. I would rather have been wrong because it would be to everyone’s benefit were we to reform towards functional governance and strategic planning. With progressive action not taking place, and with ignorance being bliss, I am reticent about embarking on new writing because of the conclusions I have reached. However, I view it as a social responsibility to make this forecast, so in that light I accept the pain of publishing it.