Tag Archive: Bonds

Nov 15 2013

The China Connection and Other Travails of a TBTF Bank

JP Morgan Chase is once again under investigation by the Department of Justice. This time for possibly bribing the daughter of the Chinese prime minister with a lucrative business deal to gain preferential treatment on the Chinese markets.

To promote its standing in China, JPMorgan Chase turned to a seemingly obscure consulting firm run by a 32-year-old executive named Lily Chang.

Ms. Chang’s firm, which received a $75,000-a-month contract from JPMorgan, appeared to have only two employees. And on the surface, Ms. Chang lacked the influence and public name recognition needed to unlock business for the bank.

But what was known to JPMorgan executives in Hong Kong, and some executives at other major companies, was that “Lily Chang” was not her real name. It was an alias for Wen Ruchun, the only daughter of Wen Jiabao, who at the time was China’s prime minister, with oversight of the economy and its financial institutions.

While the bank emerged from the financial crisis stronger than it ever was, Moody’s Investors Service cut its ratings of the JPMC and three other banks after deciding the government would be less likely to help them repay creditors in a crisis. JPMorgan was cut to A3 from A2. According to Trace, the bond-price reporting system of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the yield on JPMorgan’s $2 billion of 3.375 percent subordinated notes due May 2023 slipped 10 basis points to 4.3 percent.

Moody’s said that there was less likelihood of a widespread bailout of banks by the United States government as there was during the financial crisis five years ago and that bank debt holders would be forced to shoulder more of the losses in the future.

But the rating agency said it expected banks would be required by regulators in the United States to hold a higher level of capital, which was likely to result in higher recoveries for creditors in any future bank default. [..]

Under the Dodd-Frank Act, the Federal Reserve has been limited in its ability to provide taxpayer money to individual banks, and failing banks would be wound down in a so-called orderly liquidation, in which creditors would bear the bulk of the burden of the losses.

However, some critics have expressed doubts that regulators could handle the liquidation of one or more of the nation’s largest banks in a severe financial crisis.

In the midst of this, somebody at JPMC thought it would be a great idea to hold a Twitter Q&A with the public using the hashtag #AskJPM. The results were extremely amusing but a major PR #FAIL for the bank. Award winning actor Stacy Keech, the voice of American Greed, reads some of the best tweets verbatim.

If you’re a poet and good at writing haiku, Rolling Stone‘s contributing editor Matt Taibbi is offering a Jaime Dimon tee shirt for the best “J.P. Morgan Chase Q&A Fiasco” haiku. Matt will announce the winner Monday.

Feb 20 2012

Mortgage Backed Securities Are Back

Everything old is new again and the people that should be paying the price for the housing crash are again going to profit from the further pain of the 11 million people left behind by the Foreclosure Fraud Settlement.

Bonds Backed by Mortgages Regain Allure

by Azam Ahmed

Some Wall Street investors made money as the mortgage market boomed; others profited when it fell apart.

Having reaped big gains during both of those turns, Greg Lippmann, a former star trader at Deutsche Bank, is now catching the next upswing: buying the same securities built from mortgages that he bet against before the financial crisis erupted.

Mr. Lippmann is joined by other big-money investors – mutual funds like Fidelity as well as hedge funds – in riding a wave of interest in the same complex loan pools that nearly washed away the financial system.

The attraction is the price. Some mortgage bonds are so cheap that even in the worst forecasts, with home prices falling as much as 10 percent and foreclosures rising, investors say they can still make money. [..]

Yet the tide could turn again and wipe out investors. Chief among the risks is Europe: the Continent’s banks still hold a significant amount of United States mortgage securities, and if they are forced to sell assets, it could wreak havoc on the market.

Washington is a question mark, too. If banks have to pay for loans they issued under dubious circumstances, it would be a home run for investors, who could receive full payment for a mortgage in a security they bought at a discount. But if borrowers whose houses are worth less than their mortgages are able to reduce their principals on a large scale, bond investors could suffer because the securities would be worth even less than they paid. [..]

As for Mr. Lippmann, his reputation has made it both easier and more difficult to get commitments from investors. Some are impressed by his well-publicized bet against the mortgage market; others are turned off by his high profile in an industry known for secrecy and discretion.

LibreMax, made up of several members of Mr. Lippmann’s team from Deutsche Bank, has raised more than $1 billion in a little over a year. His performance has been relatively strong during a period of market turmoil – up 2 percent last year and a little more than 6 percent since launching.

What Yves Smith said:

The Times is quoting Greg Lippmann, the patient zero of subprime? If the SEC investigation of Deutsche Bank were remotely serious, Lippmann would be in serious trouble. What Greg Zuckerman and Michael Lewis have written about them in their books on subprime shorts alone is grist for a good civil suit. And even worse, the headline implies that there is a market for newly issued non-governemnt guaranteed bonds (wrong, that’s dead) when this is about speculation in vintage subprime.

The funniest bit is that the Times is acting as if the fact that Lippmann is talking up the market is a tip of sorts. As one of my buddies pointed out long ago, what you worry about when an investor talks up his book is not that he is trying to get more people in to raise the price, but he is trying to get more people in so he can complete his exit.

History may be repeating itself, again