Wednesday, September 24, 2008

United Sovereign Socialist States of America and $700 B

“Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency”

Yes this is one of the lines in the current 700 billion USD bailout-bill that the Treasury Sec of the United Sovereign Socialist States of America, formerly known as USA, Henry Paulson (formerly of Goldman Sachs) has sent to the Congress for immediate approval. Please re-read the sentence and try for a second to grasp its ramifications.

What this means is that once the bill is passed putting 700B of the taxpayer's money at super-risk,neither the secretary, nor the financials institutes who would be bailed out, are in anyway accountable to the people for either their past actions (no judicial hearings, no congressional hearings on their shady dealings) or for their future actions (meaning we will have no idea where/how/whether the 700 B will be used).

Now for those who are still unclear of what some of these so-called "shady" dealings that the big financial instituions have been practising for so long (out of pure greed) heres a primer (for all you mba applicants/students/alumni/b-school adcoms/faculty, remember while reading , that business ethics is something that the mba machinery has preached like for-ever, to me at this point it looks like eye candy at best, at the end of the day what matters to the mba machinery is $$$$ and nothing else):
  • Sub-prime : This is something we all know, but the real problem arose when Lehman and its clique developed financial instruments via which they started trading these mortages as equities.
  • Credit Swap: AIG owns a piece of a $500 million sub prime paper (packaged and sold by Lehman), but it aint sure whether the mortagee can pay him back. They go to a $100 million Hedge fund and ask him to cover/insure this mortgage they are holding. Now the insurer (the hedge fund here) has to provide some collateral, usually of the same value as the object being insured (500 mill). But the hedge funds get greedy, AIG hopes no one will notice, and a 100 mill hedge funds acts as an insurer for a 500 mill package. This is credit-swap. Currently the credit-swap market is worth 45.5 trillion dollars (twice the enitre worth of the whole US stock market).
  • Leveraging : A typical Hedge fund takes 2% of Asset under management (AUM) as management fees and 20% of all profit as benefits packet. For a 100 mill break-even hedge fund that means that 2mill is what the fund-runners get. But hey, thats monopoly money on Wall street. Sheeeeshh. Hold on, suppose we leverage 10:1, so now instead of 100 mill AUM, our books will show we have 1000 mill AUM. What about our management fees, oh yea they went up 10 fold too. Lehman. Goldman, Merryl and the whole brotherhood was leveraged upto 30:1.
  • Coming soon to a Wall street near you: ARMs (adjustable rate mortages), credit defaults, retail non-housing loan defaults etc etc.
But unfortuntaley the near Armageddon that these financial executives have brought in has not yet ended. With the govt sponsored free money (a mere 700 billion) that will soon be in Wall street heres how the bankers are reacting to it (via NYT)
  • Wall Street is lining up at the trough for a piece of the action, lobbying to run some of the $700 billion fund — and take huge fees — for their own mess.
  • And then there is the jockeying among the banks so they can sell their absolute worst stuff to the government — even loans that have nothing to do with mortgages — and change the rules in the process. The Financial Services Roundtable, which represents big financial services companies, wrote an e-mail message to members on Sunday suggesting, laughably, that “the government bid for the assets should not count as a mark-to-market value for accounting purposes.”
Next time some Bschool reps start preaching about their new course on the ethical business, be prepared for some chosen profanities coming your way. Oh and in the meantime, for those of you still writing your essays, please dont forget to leverage your lies 30:1 or more. I know I'll be doing it. After all its an excellent prep for the business world, especially the finances.

4 comments:

TienyChesney said...

i am your hero!? ha! you and your ridiculous money-making skills (poker skills) are what i strive for!

roy said...

Dont you think that is some sense the bailout is a necessity?

OMGparishilton said...

@tieny: u sir ARE my hero, end of story

@roy: no

Jon said...

For those of us who don't have all the details on this, check out this awesome podcast from chicago public radio that details the whole thing:
http://www.thisamericanlife.org/Radio_Episode.aspx?sched=1263
Very good resource to help understand!