Wednesday, August 24, 2011


One of the reasons the market collapsed in 2008 is because market players either ignored or didn't have enough information about derivative market exposure. Then they ignored the casino economy this ill-informed derivative market helped create. This is important because when market players learn new things about co-signers, collateral, job status, price, or market valuations they might be more (or less) willing to consummate the deal.

Think about an esteemed uncle who promises to co-sign a house note for you, and then learning that he is going to declare bankruptcy. But his books still look good, so he's willing to hold off until you get the house. Is withholding this information a good idea, for anyone? Now imagine this market wide.

Not securing and sharing critical information proved devastating in 2008. Even though Wall Street and other market players were backed up by rosy market models (that few understood), the money people on Wall Street started to panic when they learned that big financial houses (like Lehman Bros.) didn't actually have the money to back up their over sized market bets.

Well, hold on to your hats. Because of Wall Street's muscle in Washington, it looks like much hasn't changed after all. Wall Street's lobbyists have fixed things so that we're poised to party like it's 2008. Cue to Prince ...

Seriously, International Finance Review is reporting that the trading centers ("trade repositories") that are supposed to document and house information crucial for derivative markets may not be collecting the information that they should. According to a recent report on Over The Counter (OTC) derivative data, the regulatory scope of derivative trade centers appears to exclude,

"... information contained in derivatives master agreements and credit support annexes, as well as data relating to collateral or payment transfers, or valuation data coming from external sources."

Translated this means that critical due diligence - like collateral and market valuation, among others - that could help assess risk, isn't always documented or presented. You know, kind of like before the market collapsed in 2008.

So, in spite of Dodd-Frank (as I pointed out here), Wall Street can enter into a derivative agreement and they don't necessarily have to reveal previous prices (how much the last customer paid) or demonstrate proper collateral. It's kind of like going car shopping and asking for the Car Fax and being told, "Our market doesn't really require this."

Why is this important? Because as of January 2010 the notional value of the OTC derivative market has apparently grown to about $300 trillion dollars in the U.S., and over $600 trillion between the G-10 countries. This is about 20-40 times the size of the American economy.

So, yeah, we're doing it all over again.

- Mark

1 comment:

R. M. said...

Check this out Dr. Martinez.