Posts Tagged ‘Bank Bailouts’
$707,568,901,000,000: How (And Why) Banks Increased Total Outstanding Derivatives By A Record $107 Trillion In 6 Months
by Tyler Durden
While everyone was focused on the impending European collapse, the latest soon to be refuted rumors of a quick fix from the Welt am Sonntag notwithstanding, the Bank of International Settlements reported a number that quietly slipped through the cracks of the broader media. Which is paradoxical because it is the biggest everreported in the financial world: the number in question is $707,568,901,000,000 and represents the latest total amount of all notional Over The Counter (read unregulated) outstanding derivatives reported by the world’s financial institutions to the BIS for its semi-annual OTC derivatives report titled “OTC derivatives market activity in the first half of 2011.” Indicatively, global GDP is about $63 trillion if one can trust any numbers released by modern governments. Said otherwise, for the six month period ended June 30, 2011, the total number of outstanding derivatives surged past the previous all time high of $673 trillion from June 2008, and is now firmly in 7-handle territory: the synthetic credit bubble has now been blown to a new all time high. Another way of looking at the data is that one of the key contributors to global growth and prosperity in the past 10 years was an increase in total derivatives from just under $100 trillion to $708 trillion in exactly one decade. And soon we have to pay the mean reversion price.
What is probably just as disturbing is that in the first 6 months of 2011, the total outstanding notional of all derivatives rose from $601 trillion at December 31, 2010 to $708 trillion at June 30, 2011. A $107 trillion increase in notional in half a year. Needless to say this is the biggest increase in history. So why did the notional increase by such an incomprehensible amount? Simple: based on some widely accepted (and very much wrong) definitions of gross market value (not to be confused with gross notional), the value of outstanding derivatives actually declined in the first half of the year from $21.3 trillion to $19.5 trillion (a number still 33% greater than US GDP). Which means that in order to satisfy what likely threatened to become a self-feeding margin call as the (previously) $600 trillion derivatives market collapsed on itself, banks had to sell more, more, more derivatives in order to collect recurring and/or upfront premia and to pad their books with GAAP-endorsed delusions of future derivative based cash flows. Because derivatives in addition to a core source of trading desk P&L courtesy of wide bid/ask spreads (there is a reason banks want to keep them OTC and thus off standardization and margin-destroying exchanges) are also terrific annuities for the status quo. Just ask Buffett why he sold a multi-billion index put on the US stock market. The answer is simple – if he ever has to make good on it, it is too late.
Which brings us to the the chart showing total outstanding notional derivatives by 6 month period below. The shaded area is what that the BIS, the bank regulators, and the OCC urgently hope that the general public promptly forgets about and brushes under the carpet.
Try not to laugh. Or cry. Or gloss over, because when it comes to visualizing $708 trillion most really are incapable of doing so.
Total outstanding gross market value by 6 month period:
There is much more than can be said on this topic, and has to be said, because an increase of that magnitude is simply impossible to perceive without alarm bells going off everywhere, especially when one considers the pervasive deleveraging occurring at every sector but the government. All else equal, this move may well explain the massive surge in bank profitability in the first half of the year. It also means that with banks suffering massive losses, and rumors of bank runs and collateral calls, not to mention the aftermath of the MF Global insolvency, the world financial syndicate will have no choice but to increase gross notional even more, even as the market value continues to get ever lower, thus sparking the risk of the mother of all margin calls: a veritable credit fission reaction.
But no matter what: the important thing to remember is that “they are all hedged” – or so they say, a claim we made a completely mockery of a few weeks back. So ex-sarcasm, the now parabolic increase in derivatives means that when the bilateral netting chain is once again broken, and it will be (because AIG was not a one off event), there will simply be trillions more in derivatives that no longer generate a booked cash flow stream for the remaining counterparty, until at the very end, the whole inverted credit0money pyramid collapses in on itself.
And for those wondering what the distinction is between notional and
Notional amounts outstanding: Nominal or notional amounts outstanding are defined as the gross nominal or notional value of all deals concluded and not yet settled on the reporting date. For contracts with variable nominal or notional principal amounts, the basis for reporting is the nominal or notional principal amounts at the time of reporting.
Nominal or notional amounts outstanding provide a measure of market size and a reference from which contractual payments are determined in derivatives markets. However, such amounts are generally not those truly at risk. The amounts at risk in derivatives contracts are a function of the price level and/or volatility of the financial reference index used in the determination of contract payments, the duration and liquidity of contracts, and the creditworthiness of counterparties. They are also a function of whether an exchange of notional principal takes place between counterparties. Gross market values provide a more accurate measure of the scale of financial risk transfer taking place in derivatives markets.
Well, no. It is logical that the BIS will advise everyone to ignore the bigger number and focus on the small one: just like everyone was told to ignore gross exposure and focus on net… until Jefferies had to dump all of its gross PIIGS exposure or stare bankruptcy in the face; so no – the correct thing to say is “gross market values provide a more accurate measure of the scale of financial risk transfer” if one assumes there is no counterparty risk. Because once the whole bilateral netting chain is broken, net becomes gross. And gross market value becomes total notional outstanding. And, to quote Hudson, it’s game over.
As for the largely irrelevant gross market value, which is only relevant in as much as it will be the catalyst which will precipitate margin calls on the underlying notionals, all $700+ trillion of them:
Gross positive and negative market values: Gross market values are defined as the sums of the absolute values of all open contracts with either positive or negative replacement values evaluated at market prices prevailing on the reporting date. Thus, the gross positive market value of a dealer’s outstanding contracts is the sum of the replacement values of all contracts that are in a current gain position to the reporter at current market prices (and therefore, if they were settled immediately, would represent claims on counterparties). The gross negative market value is the sum of the values of all contracts that have a negative value on the reporting date (ie those that are in a current loss position and therefore, if they were settled immediately, would represent liabilities of the dealer to its counterparties).
The term “gross” indicates that contracts with positive and negative replacement values with the same counterparty are not netted. Nor are the sums of positive and negative contract values within a market risk category such as foreign exchange contracts, interest rate contracts, equities and commodities set off against one another.
As stated above, gross market values supply information about the potential scale of market risk in derivatives transactions. Furthermore, gross market value at current market prices provides a measure of economic significance that is readily comparable across markets and products.
And here again, what they ignore to add is that the measure of economic significance is only relevant in as much as the world’s banks don’t begin a Lehman-MF Global tango of mutual margin call annihilation. In that case, no. They are not measures of anything except for what some banks plug into some models to spit out a favorable EPS treatment at the end of the quarter.
Expect to see gross market value declines persisting even as the now parabolic increase in total notional persists. At this rate we would not be surprised to see one quadrillion in OTC derivatives by the middle of next year.
And, once again for those confused, the fact that notional had to increase so epically as market value tumbled most likely means that the global derivative pyramid scheme (no pun intended) is almost over.
Read the entire article HERE.
by Agustino Fontevecchia
Jul. 13 2011 – 11:26 am
Chairman Ben Bernanke faced-off with Fed-hating Representative Ron Paul during his monetary policy report to Congress on Wednesday. The head of the Fed was forced to respond to accusations of enriching already rich corporations while failing to help Main Street, while he was pushed on his views on gold. When asked whether gold is money, Bernanke flatly responded “No.” (See video below).
While most of Bernanke’s reports to Congress serve politicians to pursue their own agendas by gearing the Chairman towards their issues, with Republican Rep. Bacchus talking of the unsustainability of Medicaid and Rep. Frank (D, Mass.) asking about the need to raise the debt limit without cutting spending, it was a stand-off between Bernanke and Ron Paul that took all the attention. (Read Apocalyptic Bernanke: Raise The Debt Ceiling Or Else).
Rep. Ron Paul, Republican for Texas, asked Bernanke why a capital injection of more than $5 trillion “hasn’t done much” to help the consumer, who makes up about two-thirds of GDP in the U.S., and prop up the economy, while it helped boost corporate profits. “You could’ve given $17,000 to each citizen,” Ron Paul claimed.
Bernanke, clearly on the defensive, told Rep. Ron Paul that his institution hadn’t spent a single dollar, rather, the Fed has been a “profit center” according to the Chairman, returning profits to the federal government. As Bernanke began to sermon Rep. Paul on the history of the Fed (“we are here to provide liquidity [in abnormal situations],” the Chairman said), he was interrupted.
“When you wake up in the morning, do you think about the price of gold,” Rep. Paul asked. After pausing for a second, Bernanke responded, clearly uncomfortable. that he paid much attention to the price of gold, only to be interrupted once again.
“Gold’s at about $1,580 [an ounce] this morning, what do you think of the price of gold?” asked Rep. Paul. A stern-faced Bernanke responded people bought it for protection and was once again cut-off, with Ron Paul once again on the offensive.
“Is gold money?” he asked. Clearly bothered, Bernanke told the representative, “No. It’s a precious metal.”
After Paul interrupted him to note the long history of gold being used as money, Bernanke continued,”It’s an asset. Would you say Treasury bills are money? I don’t think they’re money either but they’re a financial asset.”
“Is gold money?” he asked. Clearly bothered, Bernanke told the representative “no, gold is not money, it’s an asset. Treasuries are an asset, people hold them, but I don’t think of them as money,” said Bernanke.
Rep. Ron Paul again jumped in, noting the long history of gold being used as money, and then asked Bernanke why people didn’t hold diamonds, clearly hinting at his fiat money criticism of the U.S. monetary system. The Fed Chairman told Rep. Paul it was nothing more than tradition, and, as he was attempting to develop his argument, Rep. Ron Paul quickly asked the acting authority of the House of Representative’s Committee on Financial Services, Rep. Bacchus, to excuse him for exceeding his time, as he returned the floor to the Committee. (Read Bernanke To Rep. Paul Ryan: QE2 Created 600,000 Jobs).
The interesting exchange served as one of the few times Bernanke has been publicly pushed off his comfort zone by an elected official. Rep. Ron Paul brought up the issues that he’s famous for, namely, a sort of allegiance between the Fed and the nation’s most powerful institutions, the illusion of fiat money, and the gold standard. Bernanke, angered and bothered, had no option but to respond. (Read Bernanke’s Contradiction: Minutes Reveal QE3 Talk And Exit Strategy).
Read the entire article HERE.
04/01/2011 16:08 -0400
While it is no surprise that the day after Lehman failed, every single bank scrambled to the Fed to soak up any and all available liquidity after confidence in the entire ponzi collapsed, what is a little surprising is that of the 6 banks that came running to papa Ben, and specifically his Primary Dealer Credit Facility, recently upgraded, or rather, downgraded to accept collateral of any type, two banks (in addition to Lehman of course which at this point was bankrupt and was forced to hand over everything to triparty clearer JPMorgan), had the temerity to pledge bonds that had defaulted (i.e. had a rating of D). As in bankrupt, and pretty much worthless. Now that the Fed would accept Defaulted bonds as collateral: or “assets” that have no value whatsoever is a different story. What is notable is that the two banks that did so were not the crappy banks such as Citi or Morgan Stanley, but the two defined as best of breed: Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan. It is probably best left to the now defunct FCIC to determine if this disclosure is something that should also be pursued in addition to recent disclosure that Gary Cohn may have perjured himself by not disclosing truthfully his bank’s discount window participation. However, we can’t help but be amused by the fact that of all banks, the ironclad Goldman and JPMorgan would be the only ones in addition to bankrupt Lehman to resort to something so low.
PDCF collateral as of September 15, 2008. (Click on picture for larger view)
And further analysis indicates that a few weeks later, this practice became pervasive, with virtually every banker pledging defaulted bonds in exchange for money good cash with which to pretend these banks were doing just fine (not to mention that $71.7 billion in collapsing equities represented nearly half the total collateral of $164.3 billion pledged to receive $155 billion in cash.)
(Click on picture for larger view)
At some point people will inquire, perhaps not in the most peaceful of terms, just why this travesty of fiduciary responsibility was happening when it happened. But not yet. And certainly not while the Chairman continues to successfully levitate the market singlehandedly.
By Phil Mattingly and Robert Schmidt
December 6, 2010
Retiring New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg, one of the Federal Reserve’s most stalwart Republican supporters, showed up for a meeting at the central bank in November bearing a surprising gift: a box of End the Fed books. As he handed out the 2009 best seller by Representative Ron Paul, a longtime Fed critic, Gregg told the gathering it would be worth reading to see what the other side is plotting.
It may have taken 34 years, but Ron Paul has arrived, and he doesn’t plan to squander the moment. His agenda includes landing the chairmanship of the House Financial Services Committee panel that oversees monetary policy—a job that will give him the power to push legislation reining in the central bank and to haul Fed governors up to Capitol Hill for hearings.
The prospect has Wall Street, Fed officials, and even Republican House leaders worried that Paul’s agenda could roil the markets and make a mockery of the U.S. financial system. This is a man, after all, who entered politics because President Richard Nixon bucked the gold standard in 1971, and now wants to make gold and silver legal tender. He is pressing for an audit of the Fort Knox bullion depository and, earlier this year, grilled Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke about the central bank’s alleged funding of Watergate and Saddam Hussein’s nuclear program. Bernanke called the charges “absolutely bizarre.”
Although his book ploy was couched in humor, Gregg laid plain a new Washington reality: Moderate, probusiness lawmakers like him, who consistently protected the central bank’s independence and ability to set monetary policy, are mostly gone. In their place are politicians who view the Fed with suspicion, or worse. Their unofficial leader is Paul, the 75-year-old Texan whose quixotic 2008 Presidential run on the twin themes of ending the federal income tax and abolishing the Fed vaulted him to prominence with the nascent Tea Party. Some of those admirers are among the 75-plus new Republicans about to join Congress. For the first time since he was elected to the House in 1976, Paul’s followers are formidable.
They include his son Rand, an incoming senator from Kentucky who routinely bashed the Fed on the campaign trail and is now angling for a seat on the Senate Banking Committee where he, too, could train his sights on the central bank. Calls to Rand Paul’s staff seeking comment were not returned.
Officials at several major banks have privately raised concerns with Republican leaders that, by allowing Paul to become a chairman, his radical views would gain legitimacy, according to three bank lobbyists. Others are watching with great interest. “Congressman Paul has his own very strong views on things, and you’ve got to respect that,” says Steve Verdier, a lobbyist for the Independent Community Bankers of America, which represents smaller lenders and has fought efforts to weaken the central bank. “I think there is a strong consensus in the country to maintain the independence of the Fed,” he adds.
If he gets the subcommittee gavel, Paul says he plans a thorough review of Fed policy. Fear of inflation is what motivates him the most. Next to the doorway in his Washington office are six framed German bank notes dating from the 1920s hyperinflation era. The notes are sequentially dated “to show how quickly the zeroes were added onto the bills” as inflation skyrocketed, Paul says. The notes are arranged around a quote by one of Paul’s favorite Austrian School economists, the late Hans F. Sennholz, who Paul once met and calls “a tremendous influence on me.” Paul is a devotee of the Austrian School, which teaches that manipulating money supply and interest rates are responsible for history’s boom-and-bust cycles. “The Fed creates all of the bubbles and they create the inevitable bursting of all of the bubbles,” says Paul.
He believes his oversight role is long overdue. “There has been a politically cozy relationship between Congress and the Federal Reserve,” he says. That includes past efforts to keep him from heading the subcommittee. “Republican leadership, with the Fed’s influence, has been working to keep me away from this for a long time. That’s not going to happen this time.”
Read the entire article HERE.