this could be ugly...

Discussion in 'Trading' started by blackbook, Oct 9, 2008.

  1. 400 Billion Lehman CDS Unwind?

    Thursday, October 09, 2008 | 09:54 AM

    in Credit | Derivatives | Trading

    I've heard concerns from various traders and hedge fund managers over the past few weeks that the Lehamn Brothers (LEH) derivatives unwind has been what's roiling markets.

    Early October, Citi (C) credit analyst Michael Hampden-Turner estimated there is $400bn of Lehman credit derivatives that will be settled on Friday

    Hence, some recent fear can now be attributed in part to jumbo losses caused by Lehman's derivative unwind . . . with JPMorgan (JPM) being the biggest potential collateral damage . JPM has the biggest derivative exposure on the Street (I have no opinion on how this impacts them or on their derivative exposure).

    Here is the FT:

    "At the moment, participants can't just extinguish credit derivatives contracts with Lehman, they can only offset them. That, in turn, puts pressure on some participants to buy more credit insurance and the cost of such contracts is rising.

    Moreover, many counterparties to Lehman who believe it owes them money have joined the ranks of unsecured creditors. This increases the number of claimants and reduces the money available to bondholders and other creditors.

    The exact amount of any claim is determined by the difference between the value of the collateral and the cost of replacing the contract. The cost has risen in line with fears about the health of financial institutions and the creditworthiness of counterparties."

    While Fannie and Freddie CDS settled at between 91.5 and 99.9 cents on the dollar., expectations are for Lehman to settle at 10 cent on the dollar -- causing a few $100 billion in losses. The unwind comes Friday
  2. G-Boa


    And Iceland's CDS unwinds.

    Lehman to Spark Record Payout for Credit Swap Sellers (Update1)

    By Shannon D. Harrington and Neil Unmack

    Oct. 10 (Bloomberg) -- The collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. may force Pacific Investment Management Co. and other sellers of credit-default swaps to make the biggest-ever payout in the $55 trillion market.

    An auction to be held today will determine the size of the payments buyers of default protection can claim after New York- based Lehman filed for the largest bankruptcy with $618 billion in debt. Lehman's $128 billion of bonds were trading yesterday at an average of 13 cents on the dollar, indicating credit swap sellers may have to pay 87 cents.

    ``That's a big hit,'' said Byron Douglass, a strategist at Credit Derivatives Research LLC in Walnut Creek, California. He follows the market for collateralized debt obligations that sold protection on Lehman debt. The payment compares with a typical bond recovery of about 40 cents on the dollar and a payout closer to 60 cents, Douglass said.

    More than 350 banks and investors signed up to settle credit-default swaps tied to Lehman. No one knows exactly how much is at stake because there's no central exchange or system for reporting trades. It's that lack of transparency that has increased the reluctance of financial institutions to do business with each other, exacerbating the global credit crisis and prompting calls for regulation of the market.

    The list of participants includes Newport Beach, California- based Pimco, manager of the world's largest bond fund, Chicago- based hedge fund manager Citadel Investment Group LLC, and American International Group Inc., the New York-based insurer taken over by the government, according to the International Swaps and Derivatives Association in New York.

    Market Test

    Hedge funds, insurance companies and banks typically buy and sell credit protection, which is used either to insure a bond against default or as a bet against the company's ability to pay its debt.

    Settlement of Lehman contracts may lead to protection sellers paying out as much as $220 billion, assuming a 20 percent recovery on the U.S. bank's senior debt, according to Andrea Cicione, a London-based credit strategist at BNP Paribas SA.

    ``Banks can go to the Federal Reserve, or use the commercial paper market where it is still functioning'' to meet protection payments, said Cicione. ``But fund managers or hedge funds, once they've used their cash, have only one option, to sell assets.''

    Fannie, Freddie

    The failures of Lehman, once the fourth-largest securities firm, and Seattle-based Washington Mutual Inc. as well as the government takeovers of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Iceland's biggest banks have provided the 10-year-old credit-default swaps market with its biggest test to date. The use of credit derivatives has grown more than 100-fold in the past seven years as investors began using the swaps to bet on companies' creditworthiness.

    Credit-default swap indexes around the world soared today on concern the deepening credit crisis will trigger company and bank failures.

    Contracts on the Markit CDX North America Investment Grade index rose 4 basis points to 202, according to Barclays Capital. Europe's benchmark Markit iTraxx Crossover index climbed 67 basis points to a record 740, and has risen 169 basis points this month, JPMorgan Chase & Co. prices show. Credit indexes in Australia and Japan also rose.

    Credit-default swaps are financial instruments that can be based on bonds and loans. They pay the buyer face value in exchange for the underlying securities or the cash equivalent should a borrower fail to adhere to its debt agreements.

    Record Highs

    Five-year credit-default swaps on Lehman rose as high as 790 basis points before the firm filed for bankruptcy, according to Phoenix Partners Group., a New York-based inter-dealer broker. A basis point on a credit-default swap contract protecting $10 million of debt from default for five years is equivalent to $1,000 a year.

    Dealers earlier this week set values for bonds of Washington-based Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac of McLean, Virginia. Sellers who signed up for the auction will pay 8.5 cents on the dollar at most because the government is backing the debt of the two largest mortgage-finance companies.

    The Pimco Total Return Fund had written protection on $105.4 million face amount of Lehman debt as of June 30, according to regulatory filings. Pimco spokesman Mark Porterfield didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.


    A unit of Primus Guaranty Ltd., a Bermuda-based company that has sold more than $24 billion in credit-default swaps, said last month it guaranteed $80 million of Lehman debt. The firm sold protection on $215 million of Fannie and Freddie debt and $16.1 million on WaMu. Yesterday, it said it also had made bets of $68.2 million on Kaupthing Bank hf, which the Icelandic government seized.

    Primus said last week it had $820 million in cash and liquid investments to meet claims on the contracts.

    CDOs that sold credit-default protection may lose money as defaults erode their ability to withstand losses, Douglass said. The CDOs pool the swaps and then sell off pieces with varying risk.

    Standard & Poor's has ratings on 1,889 CDOs that sold credit-default swap protection on Lehman, the New York-based rankings firm said last month. Pieces of 1,526 CDOs sold protection on Washington Mutual, S&P said. More than 1,200 made bets on both Fannie and Freddie.

    The Icelandic banks that failed this week were also often included in CDOs created during 2006 and 2007, according to Sivan Mahadevan, a New York-based Morgan Stanley strategist.

    To contact the reporters on this story: Shannon D. Harrington in New York at; Neil Unmack in London
  4. Thank you for posting.