Posts filed under “Derivatives”
Local Governments Which Entered Into Interest Rate Swaps Got Scalped
We know that the Libor manipulation effected the world’s largest market – interest rate derivatives.
But who are the biggest victims?
Sometimes the big banks manipulated the Libor rates up, and sometimes down. Different groups of people got hurt depending which way the rates were gamed.
Bloomberg’s Darrell Preston explained last year how cities and other local governments got scalped when rates were manipulated downward:
In the U.S., municipal borrowers used swaps to guard against the risk of higher interest costs on variable-rate debt by exchanging payments with another entity and tying how much they pay to an underlying value such as an index. The agreements can backfire if rates move in unexpected directions, resulting in issuers making larger payments.The derivatives were often designed to offset the risks of increases in the short-term rates tied to auction-rate securities, fixing borrowers’ costs by trading their debt- service payments with another party. Instead, rates dropped.
The yield on two-year Treasury notes fell from about 5.1 percent in June 2007 to a record 0.14 percent on Sept. 20. On Oct. 6, the U.S. Treasury sold $10 billion of five-day cash- management bills at 0 percent.
Ellen Brown adds:
For more than a decade, banks and insurance companies convinced local governments, hospitals, universities and other non-profits that interest rate swaps would lower interest rates on bonds sold for public projects such as roads, bridges and schools. The swaps were entered into to insure against a rise in interest rates; but instead, interest rates fell to historically low levels. This was not a flood, earthquake, or other insurable risk due to environmental unknowns or “acts of God.” It was a deliberate, manipulated move by the Fed, acting to save the banks from their own folly in precipitating the credit crisis of 2008. The banks got in trouble, and the Federal Reserve and federal government rushed in to bail them out, rewarding them for their misdeeds at the expense of the taxpayers. [The same thing happened in England.]
How the swaps were supposed to work was explained by Michael McDonald in a November 2010 Bloomberg article titled “Wall Street Collects $4 Billion From Taxpayers as Swaps Backfire”:
In an interest-rate swap, two parties exchange payments on an agreed-upon amount of principal. Most of the swaps Wall Street sold in the municipal market required borrowers to issue long-term securities with interest rates that changed every week or month. The borrowers would then exchange payments, leaving them paying a fixed-rate to a bank or insurance company and receiving a variable rate in return. Sometimes borrowers got lump sums for entering agreements.
Banks and borrowers were supposed to be paying equal rates: the fat years would balance out the lean. But the Fed artificially manipulated the rates to the save the banks. After the credit crisis broke out, borrowers had to continue selling adjustable-rate securities at auction under the deals. Auction interest rates soared when bond insurers’ ratings were downgraded because of subprime mortgage losses; but the periodic payments that banks made to borrowers as part of the swaps plunged, because they were linked to benchmarks such as Federal Reserve lending rates, which were slashed to almost zero.
In a February 2010 article titled “How Big Banks’ Interest-Rate Schemes Bankrupt States,” Mike Elk compared the swaps to payday loans. They were bad deals, but municipal council members had no other way of getting the money. He quoted economist Susan Ozawa of the New School:
The markets were pricing in serious falls in the prime interest rate. . . . So it would have been clear that this was not going to be a good deal over the life of the contracts. So the states and municipalities were entering into these long maturity swaps out of necessity. They were desperate, if not naive, and couldn’t look to the Federal Government or Congress and had to turn themselves over to the banks.
While the name Abacus is famous as Goldman’s fraudulent CDO scheme – the poster child for the rampant fraud on Wall Street – another Abacus (a small bank) has just made news by being criminally indicted for mortgage fraud. Bloomberg’s Anthony Lee Pacchia interviewed Bill Black on the meaning and ramifications, and sent me the…Read More
Michael Belkin is the author of the eponymously named Belkin Report — a highly respected institutional quantititative/technical service that looks at global markets in equities, commodities, currencies and bonds. His report this week is tongue-in-cheek titled “Where Else Are You Going To Put Your Money?” and begins with this delightful spoof of the Euro bailout…Read More
As An Encore to Bailing Out the Big Banks, Government to Backstop Derivatives Clearinghouses … In the U.S. and Abroad … Which Will Lead to Bailouts and Encourage Even More Fraud The government has been bailing out the giant, insolvent banks for years. (Many of the bailed out banks are foreign.) That is preventing the…Read More
The claim is being made that JP Morgan’s $2 billion trading loss was in a trade that was a “a hedge.” It doesn’t take much review to easily disprove that position. We first learned of this particular trade when they began to distort credit indices. Any trade so huge that it impacts its markets –…Read More
Bloomberg’s Dawn Kopecki talks about JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s $2 billion trading loss after what Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon calls an “egregious” failure in the firm’s chief investment office. Kopecki speaks with Erik Schatzker and Stephanie Ruhle on Bloomberg Television’s “InsideTrack.”
Source: Bloomberg, May 11 2012
Nationally renowned forensic accounting expert, Thomas A. Myers, explains the fundamentals of credit defaults swaps and synthetic CDOs (collateralized debt obligations). These structured finance products were at the heart of the market meltdown, and were the building blocks of numerous allegedly fraudulent transactions, including the Goldman Sachs ABACUS deal, a transaction that caused the SEC to take significant action.
Via The Trader
For more information on the Goldman ABACUS deal, including an overview of the alleged fraud, visit the T.A. Myers & Co. website: