Un breve post per segnalarvi altri dettagli su come Lehman aggiustava i suoi conti sul New York Times di oggi, che mettono in causa la due diligence di Ernst & Young, incaricata di certificare i bilanci e che apparentemente girò la testa dall'altra parte per non vedere come venivano cucinati i libri contabili grazie a Repo 105.
Pare poi che la New York Fed sia stata molto attiva nel sostenere Lehman nei mesi immediatamente precedenti il fallimento:
...the report by Mr. Valukas nonetheless raises fresh questions about the role of the New York Fed in supporting Lehman during the frantic months leading up to its collapse. It suggests that Lehman executives believed the Fed would be able to help the bank avert disaster and provide it with a business opportunity.
“Bernanke and Co. may have ‘saved the day’ ” a Lehman executive, Geoffrey Feldkamp, wrote in an e-mail message to a colleague in March 2008, according to the report. Neither Ben S. Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, nor Treasury officials saved Lehman, of course. But it was that month that the Fed started a special lending program open to Wall Street banks like Lehman that could not borrow directly from it. The Fed also lowered its standards for the kinds of collateral that it would accept against such short-term loans.
Lehman, desperate for financing, seized its chance. It packaged billions of dollars of troubled corporate loans into an investment called Freedom CLO. Then, in a series of transactions, it shifted Freedom back and forth to the New York Fed, in exchange for cash. Those moves helped make Lehman look healthier.
Essentially, Lehman was able to temporarily warehouse illiquid investments that were worrying its investors at the New York Fed in return for cash. The Fed created this facility immediately after the near collapse of Bear Stearns. Some suspect that other banks engaged in similar maneuvers.
“There were a number of tricks designed to make their balance sheet look stronger than it was,” said Janet Tavakoli, a structured finance analyst. “And they weren’t alone.”
A spokesman for the New York Fed said the loan facility was created to help the entire financial system and prevent the problems at one bank from cascading. The collateral accepted from Lehman met the Fed’s standards, he added. A third party valued it, the Fed accepted it and then reduced prices to limit the risk.
In March 2008, Lehman packaged 66 corporate loans to create the $2.8 billion Freedom CLO, which it planned to use exclusively for transactions with the Fed, the examiner’s report found.
The idea, according to a former Lehman trader familiar with Freedom, was to temporarily reduce the size of Lehman’s balance sheet. The Repo 105 transactions, according to the examiner, were created with a similar goal in mind.
The deals with the New York Fed let Lehman pledge Freedom — a mix of low-quality assets, plus some cash — in return for all cash from the Fed.
According to the examiner’s report, New York Fed officials were aware that Lehman viewed the lending facility as an opportunity to finance a bundle of loans that it could not offload easily to a rival bank. In August 2008, Lehman tried to pledge Freedom CLO and similar investments as collateral for its trading positions with Citigroup. A Citigroup executive rejected the offer as “junk” that was impossible to value, the report said.
Al rapporto Valukas dedica un articolo anche l'Economist.
Vi segnalo questo divertente post di TraderMark sul bailout della Grecia e sull'accumularsi di moral hazards:
US banks, Fannie (FNM), Freddie (FRE), AIG (AIG), Dubai, Greece... let us keep this moral hazard party going. It's official.
If you are following along at home...
UAE stands behind Dubai
EU stands behind Greece (as they will behind Portugal and Spain)
Japan stands behind itself
The IMF will stand behind the UK
Federal Government stands behind US banks, Fannie, Freddie, AIG
Federal Reserve stands behind Federal Government
The Earth stands behind the Federal Reserve
Mars stands behind the Earth
The Solar System stands behind Mars
The Universe stands behind the Solar System
Mettendo le cose così in prospettiva i 55 miliardi promessi alla Grecia sembrano ... noccioline:
55 billion euro? That's a sixth of just a single oligarch (Citi (C)? Bank of America (BAC)?) bailout in the US. Peanuts. Uncle Ben could print that in one evening. With his eyes closed. Bring on the Spanish!
Una bella sbronza di bailouts...dopo l'Ouzo siamo pronti per un bel botellón... altro che il trattamento riservato dalle banche ai piccoli imprenditori.