venerdì 30 aprile 2010

Krugman e gli euroscettici

Sul New York Times oggi Krugman si toglie qualche sassolino dalla scarpa:

Not that long ago, European economists used to mock their American counterparts for having questioned the wisdom of Europe’s march to monetary union. “On the whole,” declared an article published just this past January, “the euro has, thus far, gone much better than many U.S. economists had predicted.”
Oops. The article summarized the euro-skeptics’ views as having been: “It can’t happen, it’s a bad idea, it won’t last.” Well, it did happen, but right now it does seem to have been a bad idea for exactly the reasons the skeptics cited. And as for whether it will last — suddenly, that’s looking like an open question.
To understand the euro-mess — and its lessons for the rest of us — you need to see past the headlines. Right now everyone is focused on public debt, which can make it seem as if this is a simple story of governments that couldn’t control their spending. But that’s only part of the story for Greece, much less for Portugal, and not at all the story for Spain.(...)
What’s the nature of the trap? During the years of easy money, wages and prices in the crisis countries rose much faster than in the rest of Europe. Now that the money is no longer rolling in, those countries need to get costs back in line.
But that’s a much harder thing to do now than it was when each European nation had its own currency. (...) 
So is the euro itself in danger? In a word, yes. If European leaders don’t start acting much more forcefully, providing Greece with enough help to avoid the worst, a chain reaction that starts with a Greek default and ends up wreaking much wider havoc looks all too possible.
Meanwhile, what are the lessons for the rest of us?
The deficit hawks are already trying to appropriate the European crisis, presenting it as an object lesson in the evils of government red ink. What the crisis really demonstrates, however, is the dangers of putting yourself in a policy straitjacket. When they joined the euro, the governments of Greece, Portugal and Spain denied themselves the ability to do some bad things, like printing too much money; but they also denied themselves the ability to respond flexibly to events.
And when crisis strikes, governments need to be able to act. That’s what the architects of the euro forgot — and the rest of us need to remember.

Sempre sul NYTimes potete leggere un'analisi del ruolo dell'Europa nella crisi.

Il Sole 24 Ore dedica in prima pagina due commenti alla crisi europea innescata dalla Grecia. Da un lato si invoca senza remore l'espulsione della Grecia dall'Eurozona, dall'altro si invoca addirittura Freud e la sua analisi dell'isteria adolescenziale per spiegare la crisi....: Freud introduce il concetto di bugia primaria in rapporto all'isteria: «Ogni adolescente deve portare in sé il germe dell'isteria» e «delle condizioni determinanti della bugia originaria». E forse questa patologia dell'euro è davvero un problema di immaturità. 

giovedì 29 aprile 2010

Una faccia una razza...

Piccola rassegna stampa sulla Grecia, destinata a chi come me ha avuto una giornata talmente piena da ridursi a notte fonda per leggere le notizie del giorno:

  • iniziamo con Nouriel Roubini che intervistato dal Sole 24 Ore dice molte cose condivisibili sulla crisi greca (grazie Antonio per la segnalazione). Secondo Roubini "è solo una questione di settimane se non di giorni prima che scoppi il caso Spagna, basta guardare all'aumento dello spread tra i tassi sul debito spagnolo e tedesco"
  • la crisi in Europa sembra destinata ad aggravarsi anche secondo il New York Times.  Ecco la conclusione dell'articolo:  With Greece now shut out of the debt markets, it has little leverage to resist — especially in light of the 8 billion euros it needs to repay bondholders on May 19. Analysts expect a deal by next week at the latest. But whether a Greek resolution calms investor fears about the ability of Portugal and Spain to repay their own maturing debt remains unclear.
    In a recent note to investors, Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates, one of the world’s largest hedge funds, described the market concern as intensely focused on Spain.
    “Spain’s cash flows (current-account and budget deficit) are extremely bad,” Mr. Dalio and his colleagues wrote in a February letter. “Spain’s living standards are reliant on not just the roll of old debt, but also on significant further external lending. For these reasons, we don’t want to hold Spanish debt at these spreads."
  • Due articoli del New York Times sulle esitazioni tedesche: qui trovate il primo centrato sul problema di come assorbire il debito greco proveniente dal bailout in aggiunta a quello già in possesso delle banche tedesche, il secondo più sugli aspetti politici. 
  • Leggendo questo non ho potuto fare a meno di pensare a Mediterraneo...Italiani Greci,  una razza una faccia

mercoledì 28 aprile 2010

Grecia, Portogallo e Spagna sotto pressione.

Oggi vi segnalo:

un video del Financial Times sull'aggravarsi della crisi dopo i downgrades del debito greco e portoghese da parte di Standard and Poors.

Un articolo dell'Economist che cerca di spiegare perchè secondo molti analisti la prima vittima del contagio dovrebbe proprio essere il Portogallo. Scrive l'Economist:

One answer is that Portugal’s biggest problem is not primarily fiscal. It concerns growth—or the lack of it. Real GDP growth over the decade since Portugal joined the euro has been the slowest in the zone, despite a boom in Spain, its main trading partner. The country avoided a property bubble of the kind that burst so disastrously in Spain and Ireland. Though it doesn’t help much, Portugal’s already slow growth also made it less vulnerable to the global recession. “Spain was the wild tiger of Europe and had much further to fall when the recession came,” says João Talone, a private-equity manager. “Portuguese companies were already used to extracting value in a difficult climate.”  (...) 

A slow-moving bureaucracy, inefficient courts, poor schools and state-supported pockets of the economy protected from competition combine to hold Portugal back. Businessmen moan about rigid labour laws, which there is little political will to reform. Portugal has one of Europe’s toughest employee-protection regimes.
In short, Portugal is indeed different from Greece. But if the markets decided to put this to the test, chronic low growth, a drastic loss of competitiveness and high public and private indebtedness are all weaknesses which could swiftly undermine the protection that being different is meant to bring.

Infine un articolo del New York TImes ancora sulla Grecia e sulle conseguenze del downgrade. Scrive il NYTimes:

A major ratings agency cut Greece’s debt to junk level on Tuesday, warning that bondholders could face losses of up to 50 percent of their holdings in a restructuring. The agency also downgraded Portugal’s debt by two notches.
Leading stock indexes across Europe plunged by 2.5 to 6 percent, and the euro fell to a recent low, for a 13 percent decline against the dollar since December. The Dow Jones industrial average slumped 213.04 points, to 10,991.99, a fall of 1.9 percent.
The downgrades, by Standard & Poor’s, pushed up the interest rates that Portugal must pay on its 10-year bonds to a high, and Spain’s costs rose, too. Investors are already demanding nearly 10 percent in returns on Greek’s 10-year bonds. The cost of insuring all three countries’ debt against a default are also at record levels — a clear sign that investors are shunning them.
“The situation is deteriorating rapidly, and it’s not clear who’s in a position to stop the Greeks from going into a default situation,” said Edward Yardeni, president of Yardeni Research. “That creates a spillover effect.”
The problem is that it is not just Greece, which expects to receive international aid, but Portugal, Spain and other countries that must issue more debt soon.
“The issue is rollover risk," said Jonathan Tepper of Variant Perception, a research group based in London and known for its bearish views on Spain. "Spain has to issue new debt plus roll over existing debt to the tune of 225 billion euros this year. Fourty-five percent of their debt is held by foreigners so they are dependent on the kindness of strangers.”
(...) On Tuesday, a vice president of the European Central Bank said that the euro zone was facing its biggest challenge since the adoption of the Maastricht Treaty in 1997. Austerity measures in Greece and Portugal are already causing unrest there. Transportation workers in both countries protested on Tuesday, leaving train stations deserted because of strikes.
Officials from Standard & Poor’s said the main reason for downgrading the debt of Greece and Portugal was the prospect that forced austerity packages would be an even bigger drag on economic growth.
It is the most vicious of circles: stagnating economies are forced to cut back more, which reduces their ability to generate revenue and thus pay off their debts. As part of the euro zone, these countries do not have the ability to print their own money to stimulate growth and bolster exports, so increasing debt and an increasing prospect of default result.
Though they are under the most immediate pressure, Greece and Portugal are relatively small economies.
Given Spain’s size, its debt crisis is seen by many as the looming problem for world markets. On the surface, its debt load appears manageable. Its debt relative to gross domestic product, the broadest measure of its economy, is 54 percent — compared with 120 percent for Greece and 80 percent for Portugal.
But what Spain does have is the highest twin deficit, or combined budget and current account deficits, of any country in the world except Iceland, a reflection of how dependent it is on increasingly fickle foreign investors for financing. Spain has 225 billion euros in debt coming due this year — an amount that is about the size of Greece’s economy.
The base of investors willing to invest in the bonds of Spain and other distressed European countries is dwindling. Mohamed El-Erian, the chief executive of Pimco, one of the largest bond investors in the world, has said publicly that his firm is not a buyer of Greek debt and other Pimco executives have said they are underweight debt from peripheral Europe.
Given the losses that European investors have taken on Greek, Spanish and Portuguese bonds in recent months, it seems doubtful that such investors can be relied on to provide the capital these countries need.
Predicting where and when the next ripple will be felt is an inexact science. During the Asian crisis in 1997, Russia’s debt default took the world by surprise.
Some even worry that the next debt crisis may materialize closer to home — in the United Kingdom or even the United States, where budget deficits and debt burdens are growing. Both countries are now issuing debt at reasonable levels of 4 percent. The long run of cheap financing may be coming to an end, though, even for the most creditworthy countries.

Due articoli sulla Grecia. Forse la responsabilità della crisi finanziaria è anche politica.

Vi segnalo due articoli su La Voce dedicata al probabile default greco. Nel primo di Paolo Manasse si esaminano i costi del salvataggio della Grecia. Il secondo articolo di Angelo Baglioni e Rony Hamaui
analizza l'esposizione delle banche europee al debito greco. 

Riproduco inoltre qui una tabella tratta dall'articolo di Manasse con la probabilità di default stimata su un orizzonte temporale di 5 anni per alcuni dei paesi più rischiosi. La Grecia è quasi al 40%, da cui la prima parte del titolo del post di oggi.

Tabella 1: Spread e Probabilità di Default Cumulate a 5 anni
Highest Default Probabilities
Entity NameMid SpreadCPD (%)
Dubai/Emirate of424.2225.61
Latvia, Republic of337.0021.00

Con un Op-Ed il New York Times oggi affronta le responsabilità politiche nella crisi finanziaria. Questo aspetto viene sottovalutato in molti commenti ed è in cima alla lista delle preoccupazioni di quanti non vedono di buon occhio interventi che allarghino troppo il potere delle agenzie governative. Un ottimo esempio in materia è il commento di questa settimana di Bill Dirlam, il fondatore del sito Decision Moose dedicato a una strategia di asset allocation tattica fondata sul momento. Il commento settimanale di Dirlam è una delle mie letture preferite della domenica sera: Dirlam lo descrive in questo modo

Commentary has been split out from the weekly Market Review. This is so the author's words do not sneak up on those who, despite a secret interest in growing their own investments, are annoyed by the author's pro-investor, pro-capital, anti-bureaucrat ranting on behalf of the broader investor class. Forewarned is forearmed.

Molto spesso non sono d'accordo con lui ma non lo trovo mai noioso. Con la sua autorizzazione vi riproduco sotto un estratto del commento di questa settimana, dedicato al tema dei derivati e della loro regolamentazione. Dirlam rilancia il tema della trasparenza nel mondo della finanza. Non se ne parla molto, e probabilmente la sua descrizione dell'attività degli analisti pre-1999 è un po' troppo addolcita dal tempo trascorso e dimentica le incredibili sciocchezze che vennero scritte proprio dagli analisti durante la bolla di internet per giustificare le valutazioni di certe IPOs. Tuttavia ho l'impressione che non abbia tutti i torti a sollevare la questione della trasparenza e della libertà dell'analisi.

That inside-the-beltway sausage factory down on Capitol Hill spent the week grinding up banks in the name of financial reform. As the financial industry is rife with sin, it makes fertile ground for holier-than-thou politicians looking to capitalize on the voting public's  pre-conceived notions about (and in many cases outright prejudice toward) Wall Street. It also gives pols the opportunity to shift the focus off government's central role in the whole mess.  Both parties are frantically seeking to use the banking crisis as a spring board to election success next fall. In typical fashion, however, they are doing this not by actually addressing the root causes of the crisis, but by populist posturing. (...)

Probably the dumbest idea being bandied about is the proposal to ban derivatives trading by the largest banks. (...) Two things need to be kept in mind. First of all, derivatives trading desks did not directly contribute to the banking crisis.  (...) Secondly, derivatives are everywhere (...) there are both good, safe, and useful tasks for derivatives,  and dangerous ones.

For example, you may recall reading here that among the most wicked derivatives in the last meltdown were Credit Default Swaps or CDS's.  These highly-leveraged little instruments allowed people to take out massive bets on whether a company would go belly up, and default on its debt. Of course, as more people started betting on default, it became harder for the company to borrow at reasonable rates. As their debt servicing costs went up, their likelihood of default increased, and so did the bets against them-- literally driving the company into default.  It was akin to taking out a life insurance policy on your neighbor and then slowly turning off the oxygen from his respirator.  (...)

Don't get me wrong. We need financial re-regulation. I've always held a pretty dim view of the way some  financial institutions conduct business. (...)

We can regulate all we want, but unless the culture of institutional greed (and yes, public envy, for they are both sins) miraculously changes, politicians will continue to exploit these human weaknesses, and we will be back in the same situation at some point down the road. Since the financial business never really changed, even after Christ drove the money changers out of the temple two thousand years ago,  I seriously doubt that this unholy Congress will be any more successful.

Missing the Obvious

Though changing human nature ain't gonna happen, we should at least attempt to address the obvious.  The most glaring problem-- indeed the root cause of the "Lost Decade" in American investing-- isn't even being discussed. It is quite simply a dearth of timely, accurate, believable investment information. Think about it: if you had a nickel for every time you've heard the word "opaque" or the phrase "lack of transparency" to describe an investment gone wrong over the past decade, you'd be sipping "Pain Killers" on a hundred-foot yacht at The Bitter End right now.

Markets work best when there is a free flow of information-- from multiple sources. To my knowledge, there is nothing in this latest 1300-page regulatory proposal to address our decade-long total systemic failure in that respect. (...)  As you may have heard, it is very fashionable among the political class to assert that "no one understands these derivatives". That is not entirely true, of course, but it might as well be. People who do understand them, however, are no longer allowed to monitor their creation and use. By law, oversight has been reserved for the truly clueless-- the politicians, the regulatory lawyers, and you and me.

It wasn't always like that. Up until the late '90's, professional industry analysts, experts in their field, could visit publicly traded companies and check out the operations. They could visit the shop floor, or the trading floor-- any division-- to double check on the story being spun by the company's top management . They were like investigative reporters, only they had MBA's, years of specialized experience in their sectors, pulled down six figure salaries, and they wrote about esoteric things like EBIDTA, free cash flow, leverage, and potential FASB irregularities.

In 1999, the SEC outlawed the analysts' investigative activities, and stipulated that henceforth all financial information for any publicly traded company would be provided on a fixed schedule by top management, and only by top management. It was tantamount to outlawing the neighborhood watch in the ghetto while handing out automatic weapons to the drug dealers.

The reasoning behind this bone-headed regulatory decision devolved from a misguided populist desire to give the little guy the same access to investment information that large institutions paid billions for. The late nineties, recall, were the heyday of the day trader. While the SEC did level the playing field. so to speak, it did so by reducing institutions' ability to get at the real story-- not by increasing the small investor's access to institutional information.

Poking the institutional investors' eyes out proved just as devastating for the little guy if not more so. Though day trading was at a peak in 1999, the number of "little guys" invested in pensions, IRA and 401k mutual funds and other institutionally managed investment vehicles far surpassed individual stock traders. But in confusing a five-year bull market with their own brilliance as market players, day traders became the loudest and most demanding voice. They got their way, and it was everyone's undoing.

With no one peeking in through the blinds, creative accounting became the rage in many corporate suites. Within a year, we had Enron, MCI Worldcom-- and a whole string of lesser accounting frauds that bilked investors out of billions. That raft of fraud led to Sarbanes-Oxley, a massive regulation reiterating  that fraud was indeed illegal and adding hundreds of billions in regulatory costs to industry (costs which have been dutifully passed along to us).

One salaried SEC attorney overseeing a hundred corporations, will never be as informative (or as productive a deterrent to management foolishness) as having five or six industry experts per company-- all with a vested financial interest-- going after the truth. Had there been private analysts poking around at the divisional level at Enron, Worldcom, Lehman, AIG, et al, those crises may have been averted. At the very least, they would have been caught at an earlier less devastating stage. Same with the firms trading in sub-prime derivatives. Anyone visiting a bond trading floor in 2005 would have heard traders joking outright about the quality of the stuff that came across their desks and marveling that people were actually buying it.

The bond traders knew about sub-prime early on, but the ratings agencies, and the SEC remained in the dark. Not surprising since, unlike private analysts, who can actually help a company's stock price with a good report, government regulators and ratings agencies are at best viewed as a neutral and at worst as a negative. Employees are always instructed to cooperate, but not necessarily to facilitate. The relationship with private analysts, however was much less formal. More information was shared.

I'm a big fan of the little guy. And I admit I can be a bit of a flamer when it comes to regulation of any kind. But we need to bring back the neighborhood watch before we lose another decade to "lack of transparency".  The day traders are mostly gone now-- feeling permanently stupid after two mega-bear markets. Everyone knows now that we all live or die by the amount of transparency in any given situation. More is better. Since institutions can afford to pay for it, and since it behooves them to share it, why shouldn't they be allowed to search for it?  We would all be better off.

lunedì 26 aprile 2010

La Grecia più rischiosa del Venezuela? Come riformare le agenzie di rating?

Nuovo picco dei rendimenti delle obbligazioni del governo greco: secondo il Financial Times oggi i rendimenti sulle obbligazioni con scadenza biennale hanno raggiunto il 12.71% con un balzo di 258 punti base. Lo spread sui bund raggiunge così il 12% (!) L'idea è che mentre a brevissimo termine un default possa essere escluso (se il FMI e l'UE si danno da fare....), ciò non sia vero già su una scala temporale di medio termine.
Se si guarda poi al mercato dei CDS secondo il Wall Street Journal

Investors now judge Greece to be at greater risk of default than Pakistan and Ukraine. Only Argentina and Venezuela command higher prices to insure against default.

Intanto quando gli analisti parlano di rischio contagio continuano a concentrarsi su Spagna, Portogallo e Irlanda, lasciando la nostra amata italietta fuori dai giochi (per ora). 

Continua il pressing della stampa sulle agenzie di rating: oggi è il turno dell'editoriale di Paul Krugman sul New York Times. Com'è nel suo stile non usa Krugman non usa giri di parole:

Let’s hear it for the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Its work on the financial crisis is increasingly looking like the 21st-century version of the Pecora hearings, which helped usher in New Deal-era financial regulation. In the past few days scandalous Wall Street e-mail messages released by the subcommittee have made headlines.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that most of the headlines were about the wrong e-mails. When Goldman Sachs employees bragged about the money they had made by shorting the housing market, it was ugly, but that didn’t amount to wrongdoing.
No, the e-mail messages you should be focusing on are the ones from employees at the credit rating agencies, which bestowed AAA ratings on hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of dubious assets, nearly all of which have since turned out to be toxic waste. And no, that’s not hyperbole: of AAA-rated subprime-mortgage-backed securities issued in 2006, 93 percent — 93 percent! — have now been downgraded to junk status.
What those e-mails reveal is a deeply corrupt system. And it’s a system that financial reform, as currently proposed, wouldn’t fix.

Vi consiglio di leggere il resto dell'articolo che mi sembra molto chiaro e in gran parte condivisibile. Non mi convince però la proposta di riforma che viene indicata come esempio da  Krugman (il quale pure non sembra sostenerla con troppo entusiasmo):

The bill now before the Senate tries to do something about the rating agencies, but all in all it’s pretty weak on the subject. The only provision that might have teeth is one that would make it easier to sue rating agencies if they engaged in “knowing or reckless failure” to do the right thing. But that surely isn’t enough, given the money at stake — and the fact that Wall Street can afford to hire very, very good lawyers.What we really need is a fundamental change in the raters’ incentives. (...)
An example of what might work is a proposal by Matthew Richardson and Lawrence White of New York University. They suggest a system in which firms issuing bonds continue paying rating agencies to assess those bonds — but in which the Securities and Exchange Commission, not the issuing firm, determines which rating agency gets the business.
I’m not wedded to that particular proposal. But doing nothing isn’t an option. It’s comforting to pretend that the financial crisis was caused by nothing more than honest errors. But it wasn’t; it was, in large part, the result of a corrupt system. And the rating agencies were a big part of that corruption.

domenica 25 aprile 2010

Bet against the american dream.

Secondo il FMI non siamo ancora al sicuro da un possibile riaggravarsi della crisi finanziaria. 

“After panic, action and relief is the phase of rebuilding,” Dominique Strauss-Kahn, managing director of the monetary fund, said at its spring meetings.
Youssef Boutros-Ghali, the Egyptian finance minister, who led a meeting of the fund’s policy making committee, said, “The worst is definitely behind us, but we are not out of the woods yet.”
The I.M.F., which only a few years ago found itself defending its relevance, has assumed a new prominence and increased its lending capacity since the global economic turmoil began in 2007. It extended loans of $2 billion to Latvia and $16 billion to Hungary in 2008, and it is now expected to contribute as much as $20 billion to a bailout of debt-stricken Greece.
(...) Asked about the protests gripping Greece over the joint rescue plan by the I.M.F. and the European Union, Mr. Strauss-Kahn said, “The Greek citizens shouldn’t fear the I.M.F. We are there to try to help them.”
Intanto George Soros si dice d'accordo per una regolamentazione dei derivati: come riportato ieri dal Sole 24 Ore, secondo Soros...
La causa intentata dalla Securities and Exchange Commission statunitense contro la Goldman Sachs sarà contrastata vigorosamente dall'accusata. È interessante fare ipotesi su chi riuscirà ad avere la meglio, ma non ne conosceremo l'esito per mesi. A prescindere dall'ipotetico risultato, tuttavia, il caso ha implicazioni di grossa portata per il disegno di legge relativo alla riforma del settore finanziario che il Congresso sta prendendo in considerazione.

Che Goldman sia colpevole o no, l'oggetto della causa non comportava vantaggi sociali: implicava un complesso sistema di titoli sintetici fabbricati a partire da titoli garantiti da prestiti ipotecari, clonandoli in unità virtuali su imitazione degli originali.
Questa obbligazione di debito sintetico collateralizzato non serviva a finanziare il proprietario di qualche abitazione in più o ad allocare più efficientemente i capitali. Serviva soltanto a far lievitare il volume dei titoli garantiti da prestiti ipotecari che hanno perso valore quando è scoppiata la bolla immobiliare. Scopo principale di queste pratiche era la creazione di emolumenti e di commissioni.

Questa è una chiara dimostrazione di come i derivati e i titoli sintetici sono stati utilizzati per creare valore apparente a partire dal niente. Sono stati così creati più Cdo (Collateralized debt obligation, letteralmente un'obbligazione che ha come garanzia collaterale un debito) tripla A di quanti asset tripla A vi fossero a loro supporto. Tutto ciò è stato fatto su vasta scala, malgrado il fatto che tutte le parti coinvolte fossero investitori esperti. Il giochetto è andato avanti per anni, ed è culminato con un crollo che ha provocato una distruzione di ricchezza quantificabile in migliaia di miliardi di dollari.

Non si può permettere, naturalmente, che le cose vadano avanti così. L'uso dei derivati e di altri strumenti sintetici dovrebbe essere assoggettato a regole precise, anche se tutte le parti coinvolte sono investitori esperti.
I titoli ordinari devono essere registrati alla Sec prima di poter essere commercializzati. Anche i titoli sintetici dovrebbero essere registrati nello stesso modo, benché tale compito possa essere assegnato a un ente diverso, per esempio la Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
Intanto si scava nelle email scambiate tra i dipendenti di Goldman Sachs alla ricerca di indizi mentre Frank Rich dalle colonne del New York Times  chiede che siano perseguiti i responsabili del creative accounting che coprì le perdite fino al  fallimento di Lehman Brothers
(...) Equally compelling is the notion articulated by Ryan Avent, a blogger at The Economist, that “public anger” and “hooting derision” be increased to shame Wall Street into changing its ethos. This assumes, of course, that there is any capacity for shame. Perhaps the most productive tactic comes from Ted Kaufman, Democrat of Delaware, who is using his lame-duck residence in the Senate (as the appointee to Joe Biden’s old seat) to demand that we root out the “fraud and potential criminal conduct” that “were at the heart of the financial crisis.”
To achieve this overdue reckoning will require action — by the S.E.C., the Justice Department and any other legal authority that wants to get into the act. That no one at Lehman Brothers has yet been held liable for its Enronesque bookkeeping deceit is appalling. That we still haven’t seen the e-mail and documents that would illuminate A.I.G.’s machinations with Goldman and the rest of its counterparties amounts to a cover-up. That investigative journalists have consistently been way ahead of the authorities, the S.E.C. included, in uncovering Wall Street’s foul play is a scandal. If this culture remains in place, the whole crisis will have gone to waste.
As a reminder of the unchastened status quo, Blankfein remains the gift that keeps on giving. On Thursday, The Financial Times reported that he had been calling clients to argue that the S.E.C. case against Goldman would ultimately “hurt America.” The opposing point of view was presented by Ira Glass on his radio show “This American Life” this month. With reporters from the nonprofit journalistic organization ProPublica, it told the story of another hedge fund, Magnetar, that gamed the housing bubble. Bankers who worked on Magnetar deals walked away with their huge bonuses well before disaster struck — or, as the program put it, “bankers made money even when they were buying things that eventually blew up the bank.” Not to mention the economy. And it was all legal.
To award the audience a bonus, “This American Life” concluded with a Broadway song commissioned from a co- author of the satirical musical “Avenue Q.” Titled “Bet Against the American Dream,” it distills a complex financial saga to its essence: Those who shorted the housing market shorted the country.
Go online, listen to it and laugh. But the fact remains that those who truly hurt America are laughing harder still, all the way to the bank.

Bet Against the American Dream from Alexander Hotz on Vimeo.

sabato 24 aprile 2010

Addio alla Grecia? Il comma 22 delle agenzie di rating. Aggiornamento al 23 aprile.

E' divertente confrontare il tono sdrammatizzante del commento di Roberto Perotti  al probabile default della Grecia pubblicato in prima pagina sul Sole 24 Ore di oggi (se non lo avete a portata di mano potete leggerlo qui) con l'editoriale del New York Times sullo stesso tema intitolato...Greece and who is next? Perotti invita l'Unione Europea a lasciare che la Grecia vada in default:

(...) Aiutando la Grecia, l'Fmi fa il suo lavoro; come sempre applicherà condizioni molto onerose, e per questo salutari nel lungo periodo; e come sempre verrà percepito come il diavolo yankee venuto a imporre austerità. È un ruolo cui è abituato, e che fa comodo a tutti i governi, a partire da quello greco. Il salvataggio della Ue sarebbe invece, per motivi politici, molto più riguardoso, e quindi molto meno utile nel lungo periodo alla Grecia stessa.

Quale occasione migliore, per la Ue, di dire «questa volta no»?

Questa invece è l'opinione del Times:

(...) Greece’s efforts to curtail public spending have not made enough of a dent in its deficit to persuade investors it can bring its debt under control. But amid a severe recession, which is likely to be exacerbated by budget cuts, even the tightest belt-tightening can’t eliminate a deficit that amounted to more than 13 percent of its gross domestic product last year.
To stop a rout, the European Union must commit to activating the bailout. Then Europe and the International Monetary Fund must start negotiations with Greece for a much bigger bailout package. This would help restore investors’ confidence, allowing interest rates on its debt to fall from the punitive heights of nearly 9 percent reached last week. While some economists believe Greece would still have to restructure its debts, it would have space to negotiate the terms.
As investors made clear this week, the turmoil doesn’t end with Greece. Portugal, Spain and Ireland have seen their deficits balloon as the housing bust and the economic downturn took a toll. The European Union and the International Monetary Fund must put together a pre-emptive bailout package to convince investors of the stability of their finances and head off a flight to dump their bonds on a bigger scale. Speed is essential.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and European finance ministers should start working on that during this weekend’s International Monetary Fund meeting in Washington. This is mainly a European problem. But Washington must ensure that the fund commits adequate resources. The good news, if there is any here, is that American banks do not own much Greek debt. But the American economy won’t be immune if the Greek crisis spreads much further.

Il New York Times si diverte a descrivere il clima all'annuale International Swaps and Derivatives Association conference quest'anno incentrata su “Collateralization and Netting — the Impact” e “Systemic Risk: Advances and Challenges in the Wake of the Crisis.” Sempre sul Times vi segnalo un altro articolo dedicato alle agenzie di rating  (oltre a quello che vi ho segnalato in questo post). Per giustificare le grossolane sottovalutazioni del rischio nel 2008-2009 si invoca addirittura il Comma 22 (io l'ho conosciuto grazie alle Sturmtruppen e recita: chiunque sia pazzo può chiedere di essere esonerato dalle missioni di guerra, ma chi chiede di essere esonerato dalle missioni di guerra non è pazzo): 

(...) The major credit rating agencies, Moody’sStandard & Poor’s and Fitch, drew renewed criticism on Friday on Capitol Hill for failing to warn of the dangers posed by complex investments like the one that has drawn Goldman Sachs into a legal whirlwind.
But while the agencies have come under fire before, the extent to which they collaborated with Wall Street banks has drawn less notice.
The rating agencies made public computer models that were used to devise ratings to make the process less secretive. That way, banks and others issuing bonds — companies and states, for instance — wouldn’t be surprised by a weak rating that could make it harder to sell the bonds or that would require them to offer a higher interest rate.
But by routinely sharing their models, the agencies in effect gave bankers the tools to tinker with their complicated mortgage deals until the models produced the desired ratings.
“There’s a bit of a Catch-22 here, to be fair to the ratings agencies,” said Dan Rosen, a member of Fitch’s academic advisory board and the chief of R2 Financial Technologies in Toronto. “They have to explain how they do things, but that sometimes allowed people to game it.”

Ecco l'aggiornamento al 23 aprile.

venerdì 23 aprile 2010

Agenzie di rating: poco accurate ma ancora Grecia chiede aiuto: meglio il default?

Tra i protagonisti della crisi finanziaria, le agenzie di rating sono riuscite finora ad evitare di essere indicate al pubblico ludibrio per i loro errori e la loro cupidigia, al contrario di quanto invece è capitato ai banchieri e più in generale al mondo della finanza. Il pubblico sembra ipnotizzato dalle storie dello star system finanziario, con i suoi bonus incredibilmente alti, e a volte difficili da giustificare sulla base dei risultati.
Per questo vi segnalo questo articolo sul New York Times di oggi che affronta il tema del conflitto di interessi delle agenzie e analizza le proposte contenute nella legge di riforma finanziaria che cercano (timidamente, forse) di affrontare la questione.

La Grecia intanto, colpita dal downgrade di ieri di Moody's e dalla revisione del deficit del bilancio 2009 ad alemeno il 13,6% del GDP (fonte Eurostat), contro un dato precedente pari al 12,9%, è sull'orlo del default e si è rivolta oggi al FMI e  agli altri paesi dell'eurozona chiedendo che sia attivato il meccanismo di prestiti a tasso agevolato. Ieri i tassi di interesse sulle obbligazioni governative a 10 anni ha sfiorato il 9%. La notizia della richiesta di aiuto greca ha comunque prodotto una riduzione
dello spread sui Bund decennali al 5,11% dal picco di ieri del 5,86%. Vi consiglio l'articolo di oggi sul sito dell'Economist per approfondire l'analisi delle prospettive future...non è una lettura incoraggiante! Vi riporto qui sotto una sintesi delle conclusioni:

The default option

Is a sovereign default by Greece imaginable? Conventional wisdom has it that sovereign defaults are always messy and painful. In fact the lesson of such defaults over the past decade or more is that this is not necessarily so. (...)
In 2003 Uruguay restructured all its domestic and external debt, exchanging old bonds at par and at the same coupon rate for new ones but stretching maturity dates by five years. The country returned to capital markets a month later. The “haircut”, or loss to bondholders, was small (13.3%, in net present value), as were the amounts restructured ($5.4 billion), but it showed that orderly sovereign workouts are possible. Countries such as Jamaica and Belize have had orderly restructurings recently.
Greece is different because it has much more debt outstanding and because bondholders may face a more severe haircut—although with sufficient fiscal consolidation a more modest restructuring could be feasible. Sovereign-debt lawyers say that in some ways a restructuring of Greek debt would be easier than many people think. But other things would be new and harder, especially the complexity caused by credit-default swaps, which have not yet played a big role in any sovereign-debt restructurings. (...)
Would a defaulting country have to leave the euro? No. It is perhaps natural to conflate default with devaluation because they often occur together. But a euro member has no currency to devalue. Nor is there a means to force a defaulter out, since membership is meant to be for keeps. A new currency would have to be invented from scratch, a logistical nightmare. All contracts—for bonds, bank deposits, wages and so forth—would have to be switched to the new currency. The changeover to the euro was planned in detail and in co-operation. The reverse operation would be nothing like as orderly. A country that had lost the faith of investors in its public finances would find it hard to reconstruct a sound monetary system. Default by a member would be a body blow to the euro’s standing. But it need not spell the end of the currency.

Per concludere con toni meno tristi, vi segnalo la
formica e la cicala, ovvero come salvarsi dall'eruzione del vulcano...una rivisitazione fatta da La Voce della celebre favola di Esopo  per
sottolineare le differenze tra l'Italia (delle formiche) dagli USA (delle cicale). Conclude così Daveri il suo intervento:

è l’incrollabile ottimismo che farà ripartire la locomotiva americana, mentre è la paura del futuro a frenare la crescita dell’Italia.

D'accordo, ma la domanda forse più interessante è: come mai gli americani sono ottimisti incrollabili e gli italiani no? Non avrà per caso a che vedere con la differenza tra una cultura del fare e delle (poche!) regole condivise e una pseudocultura del disfare e della furbizia a scapito degli altri? Ai posteri l'ardua (?) sentenza...

mercoledì 21 aprile 2010

Linkfest e un po' di ottimismo per l'economia USA?

Ho davvero difficoltà in questi giorni a trovare il tempo da dedicare a questo blog...
vi segnalo allora senza commenti alcuni articoli e post che ho letto nelle ultime settimane e che  ho trovato interessanti:

Infine voglio rallegrarvi: sfogliando il blog del New York Times dedicato all'economia 
ho dato un'occhiata agli indicatori economici e devo ammettere che non è un quadro a tinte così fosche....guardate questo riquadro preso dalla prima pagina del blog

Economic Indicators

lunedì 19 aprile 2010

Parole, parole parole....

Da leggere in una giornata in cui ci si è alzati di buonumore: il NYTimes colleziona le scuse dei banchieri protagonisti della crisi finanziaria. Tra i migliori vi raccomando l'ex CEO di Countrywide Financial, secondo il quale la colpa è dell'housing market. La sua inarrivabile perspicacia gli è valsa 530 milioni di dollari di renumerazione.

Il governatore della Fed di Kansas City Hoenig critica la proposta di riforma finanziaria e in particolare la riduzione del ruolo di controllo della Fed nella supervisione bancaria, che nella proposta in esame viene limitata alle entità più grandi. Scrive Hoenig:

(...) proposed financial reform legislation would significantly narrow the supervisory role of the Federal Reserve, so that it would oversee only the very largest institutions, most of which are headquartered in New York City. Congress established the Federal Reserve System in 1913 with 12 banks in a federated structure, like our political system, so that it would include regional perspectives to counterbalance the influence of Wall Street and Washington. To now narrow the Fed’s supervision to just the largest banks would be to devalue those broader perspectives. The Federal Reserve would no longer be the central bank of the United States, but only the central bank of Wall Street.
The flawed logic of this proposed change is that only the biggest firms are systemically important; that only they require the contingency lending that the Fed provides at its discount window; that only they will be involved in future crises; and that overseeing these firms is sufficient to provide the “macro-prudential supervision” the central bank’s charter requires. By this reasoning, the 6,700 other banks and the communities they serve are of no immediate consequence to the mission of the Federal Reserve.
Who outside of Wall Street can legitimately support such thinking? As a commissioned examiner and head of supervision in the Fed’s Kansas City district in the 1980s, I am a veteran of financial crises involving energy, real estate and agriculture in the Midwest and West. I can say with confidence that a regional financial crisis and its accompanying loss of jobs is just as harmful as the current Wall Street crisis has been for communities like Santa Fe.
Because the Federal Reserve supervises banks and bank holding companies of all sizes, it is able to address regional as well as national banking problems when they erupt. In addition, I and other Fed presidents can take information about regional financial and economic conditions into monetary policy discussions.
Without the Fed seeing the view from every corner of America, without every bank knowing it will be treated the same, the Federal Reserve cannot do its job and direct the same attention to the smallest firms as the largest. It cannot serve Main Street.

Krugman non le manda a dire sul ruolo che l'imbroglio ha avuto nella crisi finanziaria: leggendolo non è difficile immaginare che presto ci saranno nuove denuncie di frode legate all'azione del fondo Magnetar

(...) Most discussion of the role of fraud in the crisis has focused on two forms of deception: predatory lending and misrepresentation of risks. (...)
We’ve known for some time that Goldman Sachs and other firms marketed mortgage-backed securities even as they sought to make profits by betting that such securities would plunge in value. This practice, however, while arguably reprehensible, wasn’t illegal. But now the S.E.C. is charging that Goldman created and marketed securities that were deliberately designed to fail, so that an important client could make money off that failure. That’s what I would call looting.
And Goldman isn’t the only financial firm accused of doing this. According to the Pulitzer-winning investigative journalism Web site ProPublica, several banks helped market designed-to-fail investments on behalf of the hedge fund Magnetar, which was betting on that failure.
So what role did fraud play in the financial crisis? Neither predatory lending nor the selling of mortgages on false pretenses caused the crisis. But they surely made it worse, both by helping to inflate the housing bubble and by creating a pool of assets guaranteed to turn into toxic waste once the bubble burst. (...)
The main moral you should draw from the charges against Goldman, though, doesn’t involve the fine print of reform; it involves the urgent need to change Wall Street. Listening to financial-industry lobbyists and the Republican politicians who have been huddling with them, you’d think that everything will be fine as long as the federal government promises not to do any more bailouts. But that’s totally wrong — and not just because no such promise would be credible.
For the fact is that much of the financial industry has become a racket — a game in which a handful of people are lavishly paid to mislead and exploit consumers and investors. And if we don’t lower the boom on these practices, the racket will just go on.

Qui trovate una breve analisi di Brad De Long sul caso Goldman-Abacus.

Il rischio di un cospicuo danno reputazionale per Goldman Sachs è davvero molto alto, tale da cancellare i profitti ottenuti dall'affare Abacus. Certamente assisteremo a una feroce battaglia legale scrive il New York Times:

(...) Marcel Kahan, a law professor at New York University, said the risk to Goldman’s reputation was greater than its legal exposure. For instance, he said that Goldman’s stock dropped nearly 13 percent on Friday, causing a greater loss in market capitalization than the worst imaginable S.E.C. fine. “I think the negative P.R. for Goldman is a multiple of the legal one,” he said. “It’s very bad for business. You don’t want to get the impression with your client that you are doing shady things.”
As a consequence, Professor Kahan said, Goldman had no incentive to settle the case and would hire the nation’s best lawyers to try to clear its name. Similarly, he said the S.E.C. had as much or more to lose, given its record in the last decade.
But just taking on Goldman Sachs is a sign the agency is more certain of its role as a tough watchdog for the markets, said Donald C. Langevoort, a law professor atGeorgetown University who formerly worked in the office of the agency’s general counsel.
“The S.E.C. has long lacked the kind of resources that would give them the confidence that they could take on a Goldman Sachs,” he said, “because if Goldman Sachs decides to litigate, you know it’s going to be a war.”

In questo articolo trovate un ulteriore approfondimento sulla discussione relativa ai mutui subprime e ai rischi del mercato immobiliare interna a Goldman Sachs nei mesi che hanno preceduto la crisi finanziaria,

domenica 18 aprile 2010

Un correzione in vista? Anche se cadono gli dei non c'è bisogno di uccidere gli angeli. Aggiornamento al 16 aprile 2010.

Ancora su U,V o W: secondo John Mauldin c'è il 50% di probabilità di una recessione nel 2011, e dunque di una "correzione" del 40% (!) negli indici azionari:

Chartoftheday mette il rally dai minimi del marzo 2009 a confronto con gli altri rally dopo i minimi associati ai principali merkati orso e ne deduce invece che siamo nella norma e che la prospettiva più verosimile per i prossimi 12-18 mesi è una fase laterale.

Se invece volete preoccuparvi ancora di più allora potete dare un'occhiata a questo video... credo che Mark William abbia ragione nel sostenere la necessità di mettere mano a una seria riforma.

Nella sua newsletter settimanale John Mauldin dedica alcune considerazioni ad una conseguenza indesiderata (e probabilmente indesiderabile) della riforma finanziaria in discussione negli USA. Secondo Mauldin il testo in corso di approvazione prevede importanti restrizioni alla libertà di operazione dei business angles: ecco un estratto della sua lettera, non a caso intitolata First, Let's Kill the Angels, il testo completo potete trovarlo qui

First, let’s look at a very important part of the US economic machine, the angel
investing network. An angel investor, or angel (also known as a business angel or
informal investor) is an affluent individual who provides capital for a business startup,
usually in exchange for convertible debt or ownership equity. A small but increasing
number of angel investors organize themselves into angel groups or angel networks to
share research and pool their investment capital.
Angels typically invest their own funds, unlike venture capitalists, who manage
the pooled money of others in a professionally managed fund. (...)
 angel investment is a common second round of financing for high-growth
startups, and accounts in total for almost as much money invested annually as all venture
capital funds combined, but invested into more than ten times as many companies (US
$26 billion vs. $30.69 billion in the US in 2007, into 57,000 companies vs. 3,918
companies). (Wikipedia)
“Angel investors committed fewer dollars but increased the number of
investments during the first half of 2009,” according to “The Angel Investor Market in
Q1Q2 2009: A Halt in the Market Contraction” by the Center for Venture Research at the
University of New Hampshire. Total investments in the first half of 2009 were $9.1
billion, a decrease of 27% over the first half of 2008, the study reports. However, 24,500
entrepreneurial ventures received angel funding during the period, a 6% increase from the
first half of 2008. The number of active investors in the first half of 2009 was 140,200
individuals, virtually unchanged from the same period in 2008. (Tech Transfer Blog)
And according to a conversation I had with the very enthusiastic David Rose of
Angelsoft this week in New York, the numbers are growing as the economy improves. If
you assume that as many new ventures were funded in the latter half of 2009, then we are
looking at 50,000 new businesses last year. At an average of (my guess) 10 employees a
firm, plus all the business they contract for, that is at least 500,000 jobs, with the promise
of many more for the firms that become viable. (...)
This is the very heart of the job-creation machine in
the US. It is what keeps this country competitive. And the Dodd bill places this at severe
risk. Let’s look at how it would handcuff potential investors.
Here are a few quotes from Venture Beat, a publication of the venture industry.
“There are three changes that should have a particular effect on angel investors, a
catch-all category which includes everyone from friends and family members who invest
in a startup, to unaffiliated wealthy individuals, to side investments made by venture
capitalists acting on their own.
“First, Dodd’s bill would require startups raising funding to register with the
Securities and Exchange Commission, and then wait 120 days for the SEC to review their
filing. A second provision raises the wealth requirements for an “accredited investor”
who can invest in startups — if the bill passes, investors would need assets of more than
$2.3 million (up from $1 million) or income of more than $450,000 (up from $250,000).
The third restriction removes the federal pre-emption allowing angel and venture
financing in the United States to follow federal regulations, rather than face different
rules between states.”
This is not a partisan issue. Let’s look at what former Google employee, angel
investor, and Obama supporter Chris Sacca has to say:
“Obviously, I’m deeply concerned about Senator Dodd’s proposal to place these
restrictions on angel investing. (...) There’s no doubt about it that the restrictions that he’s proposing would absolutely chill investing. (...)  So this 120-day waiting period is frankly ridiculous. I have companies with tens
of thousands and hundreds of thousands of users that are built in a matter of weeks.
They’re generating actual dollars of revenue, creating jobs, investing in real estate office
space, capital equipment, etc. If they had to wait 120 days to actually apply for the ability
to obtain financing it would absolutely just crush that market.
“I think this is a very short-sighted proposal. It seems far afield from the problems
that the banking committee is actually trying to address.”
Additionally, allowing states to set the rules rather than having one set of rules
that governs business startups, is guaranteed chaos and adds another layer of costs. 

Non sono un esperto della materia ma le considerazioni svolte da Mauldin mi sembrano condivisibili.
La seconda parte della newsletter di questa settimana analizza brevemente il caso Goldman e i CDOs squared incriminati. Alla questione è anche dedicato un editoriale del New York Times che scrive:

(...) We urge everyone to keep a close eye on this case. If it is handled correctly, it should finally answer the question of whether malfeasance — and not merely unbridled greed, incompetence and weak regulation — was also responsible for the financial meltdown.
Goldman insists that what it was doing was prudent risk management. (...)
Up to now, the bankers have argued that the financial crisis was like what insurers call an “act of God,” an unforeseeable cataclysm over which they had no control. This has allowed them to shrug off responsibility, even as taxpayers bailed them out. It has allowed them to sleep soundly after collecting their huge bonuses. Goldman is not the only bank to have sold mortgage-backed securities and then bet against them. We suspect that after Friday, others on Wall Street may have a harder time sleeping.

Sempre sul NYTimes trovate un breve racconto sul ruolo svolto dal fondo hedge di John Paulson nella vicenda:
(...) Mr. Paulson, 54, was not named as a defendant in the S.E.C. suit, but his role in devising the instrument that caused $1 billion in losses for Goldman’s customers is detailed in the complaint. Robert Khuzami, the director of enforcement at the S.E.C., explained that, unlike Goldman, the manager of the hedge fund, Paulson & Company, had not made misrepresentations to investors buying the security, known as a collateralized debt obligation.
“While it’s unfortunate that people lost money investing in mortgage-backed securities, Paulson has never been involved in the origination, distribution or structuring of such securities,” said Stefan Prelog, a spokesman for Mr. Paulson, in a statement. “We have always been forthright in expressing our opinion as to the quality of the underlying mortgages. Paulson has never misrepresented our positions to any counterparties.
“There’s no question we made money in these transactions. However, all our dealings were through arm’s-length transactions with experienced counterparties who had opposing views based on all available information at the time. We were straightforward in our dislike of these securities, but the vast majority of people in the market thought we were dead wrong and openly and aggressively purchased the securities we were selling.”
Still, the details unearthed by the S.E.C. in its investigation show a deep involvement by Mr. Paulson in the creation of the investment, known as Abacus 2007-AC1. For example, he approached Goldman about constructing and marketing the debt security.
After analyzing risky mortgages made on homes in Arizona, California, Florida and Nevada, where the housing markets had overheated, Mr. Paulson went to Goldman to talk about how he could bet against those loans. He focused his analysis on adjustable-rate loans taken out by borrowers with relatively low credit scores and turned up more than 100 loan pools that he considered vulnerable, the S.E.C. said.
Mr. Paulson then asked Goldman to put together a portfolio of these pools, or others like them that he could wager against. He paid $15 million to Goldman for creating and marketing the Abacus deal, the complaint says.
One of a small cohort of money managers who saw the mortgage market in late 2006 as a bubble waiting to burst, Mr. Paulson capitalized on the opacity of mortgage-related securities that Wall Street cobbled together and sold to its clients. These instruments contained thousands of mortgage loans that few investors bothered to analyze.
Instead, the buyers relied on the opinions of credit ratings agencies like Moody’sStandard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings. These turned out to be overly rosy, and investors suffered hundreds of billions in losses when the loans underlying these securities went bad.
Mr. Paulson personally made an estimated $3.7 billion in 2007 as a result of his hedge fund’s performance, and another $2 billion in 2008.

Ecco l'aggiornamento al 16 aprile 2010.

venerdì 16 aprile 2010

Un vulcano finanziario esplode: la SEC accusa Goldman Sachs di frode!

Non bastavano terremoti ed eruzioni vulcaniche per rendere questa settimana indimenticabile... circa un'ora fa si è abbattuta sui mercati una notizia davvero inimmaginabile solo pochi mesi fa: la S.E.C. (Securities and Exchange Commission) ha denunciato Goldman Sachs per frode sui CDO sintetici. Scrive il comunicato stampa della S.E.C. :

The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged Goldman, Sachs & Co. and one of its vice presidents for defrauding investors by misstating and omitting key facts about a financial product tied to subprime mortgages as the U.S. housing market was beginning to falter.
The SEC alleges that Goldman Sachs structured and marketed a synthetic collateralized debt obligation (CDO) that hinged on the performance of subprime residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS). Goldman Sachs failed to disclose to investors vital information about the CDO, in particular the role that a major hedge fund played in the portfolio selection process and the fact that the hedge fund had taken a short position against the CDO.
"The product was new and complex but the deception and conflicts are old and simple," said Robert Khuzami, Director of the Division of Enforcement. "Goldman wrongly permitted a client that was betting against the mortgage market to heavily influence which mortgage securities to include in an investment portfolio, while telling other investors that the securities were selected by an independent, objective third party."
Kenneth Lench, Chief of the SEC's Structured and New Products Unit, added, "The SEC continues to investigate the practices of investment banks and others involved in the securitization of complex financial products tied to the U.S. housing market as it was beginning to show signs of distress."
The SEC alleges that one of the world's largest hedge funds, Paulson & Co., paid Goldman Sachs to structure a transaction in which Paulson & Co. could take short positions against mortgage securities chosen by Paulson & Co. based on a belief that the securities would experience credit events.
According to the SEC's complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the marketing materials for the CDO known as ABACUS 2007-AC1 (ABACUS) all represented that the RMBS portfolio underlying the CDO was selected by ACA Management LLC (ACA), a third party with expertise in analyzing credit risk in RMBS. The SEC alleges that undisclosed in the marketing materials and unbeknownst to investors, the Paulson & Co. hedge fund, which was poised to benefit if the RMBS defaulted, played a significant role in selecting which RMBS should make up the portfolio.

Quanto basta a far perdere quasi il 2% sia al Dow (che riscende sotto 11000) che all'S&P500 (nuovamente sotto 1200), mentre Goldman perde il 12%  e sul fronte europeo Deutsche Bank, che è stata coinvolta nella denuncia che fece mesi fa il New York Times sulla faccenda, ha perso il 7%

Qui trovate la notizia su Yahoo Finance (con la foto di Henry Paulson, già CEO di Goldman e segretario del Tesoro USA durante l'amministrazione Bush, ma che non è il Paulson al quale si fa riferimento nell'articolo!! )
Se volete seguire i  riflessi della denuncia sull'hedge fund di John Paulson potete usare questo link.

Il New York Times, che aveva denunciato la cosa con un articolo alla fine di dicembre del 2009, ha già un lungo articolo sulla denuncia della S.E.C.. Il testo completo della denuncia della S.E.C lo trovate qui. Se siete interessati ad approfondire l'argomento potete seguire  il blog di Yves Smith  che certamente dedicherà numerosi post alla vicenda anche in futuro.

Alfaobeta aveva ripreso l'articolo del NYTimes il 27 dicembre scorso con un ulteriore approfondimento il 31 dicembre: i miei lettori possono essere soddisfatti del tempo trascorso su questo blog
 ( ancora più contenti saranno i lettori che presero sul serio l'analisi del mercato del 7 marzo 2009).