Prime brokerage clients stand to lose assets in Lehman bust

This is why everyone needs to be extremely careful about their brokerage, banking, counterparty and business relationships. What would a bankruptcy of any of these entities do to your finances? From Bloomberg:

Lehman Won’t Return Prime-Broker Assets for `Months’ (Update2)

By Tom Cahil

Sept. 22 (Bloomberg) — Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. will take “considerable time” before it returns assets stranded by the world’s largest bankruptcy to hundreds of hedge fund clients, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.

“Our current view is that this process could take several months to conclude,” PwC, Lehman’s bankruptcy administrator in London, said in a statement today.

GLG Partners Inc., a $24 billion hedge fund, and CQS U.K. LLP. are among those that used Lehman as a prime broker for borrowing stock and clearing trades. They may now join a line of creditors trying to recover money after Lehman filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Sept. 15 listing $639 billion of assets.

“There’s a short queue to recover assets and a long one,” said Jerome Lussan, founder of Laven Partners LLP, a hedge fund consultant and investor in London. “If your hedge fund assets have been included with Lehman’s, you’re in the back of a queue that’s quite long.”

Lehman had the right to lend prime-brokerage clients’ securities as collateral in the stock-loan and repurchasing markets, PwC said. Securities used for these purposes were mingled with Lehman’s, PwC said.

“The assets, once `used,’ were no longer held for the client on a segregated basis, and as a result the client may cease to have any proprietary interest in them,” PwC said in the statement.

Margin account holders at any institution should beware. Read about SIPC and assess your risk. Is margin really worth it?

Questionable Value

Hedge funds with assets tied up with Lehman probably will have to write down the value of those assets when they report net asset values to investors or restrict redemptions, Lussan said.

“What’s the market value of, say, $100 million that’s owed to you by Lehman?” he asked. “I’d say it’s not that great, and it’s going to have to be written down.”

Any hedge fund managers who allowed Lehman to lend out their securities were asking for a world of hurt, and in my opinion, were not qualified to handle other people’s money.

Lehman reportedly to declare bankruptcy. US futures down 3% Sunday night.

According to The New York Times Dealbook blog, the word is that nobody wanted the entirety of this gangrenous carcass without a complete Federal Reserve guarantee a la Bear Stearns, so the healthy parts are being carved off, while the Fed graciously trades some of its remaining assets for the fetid pieces:

Lehman Brothers will file for bankruptcy protection on Sunday night, in the largest failure of an investment bank since the collapse of Drexel Burnham Lambert 18 years ago.

Lehman will seek to place its parent company, Lehman Brothers Holdings, into bankruptcy protection, while its subsidiaries will remain solvent while the firm liquidates its holdings, these people said. A consortium of banks will provide a financial backstop to help provide an orderly winding down of the 158-year-old investment bank. And the Federal Reserve has agreed to accept lower-quality assets in return for loans from the government. …

How many billions of its remaining $400 billion in Treasuries is the Fed going to lose in this deal?

Lehman’s broker-deal subsidiaries would not be a part of the bankruptcy filing. Those entities must file under Chapter 7 rules, which are the procedures for liquidation, under the assumption that it is the best way to protect customers. The Securities Investor Protection Corporation would handle the liquidation of such brokerages, and bankruptcy lawyers say that customers are likely to receive their holdings back.

Boy, if I were a Lehman brokerage client, I would hate to have to wait for the bureaucrats at SIPC to get me my securities back. And what about clients with margin accounts? Will they be wiped out?

… Moreover, changes to the bankruptcy code mean that counterparties to Lehman’s credit-default swaps can seize their collateral at any time, posing an enormous potential risk to the entire financial markets. Investment banks, hedge funds and other financial players labored throughout Sunday to offset their exposure to Lehman, moving their contracts to other firms.

As of 7:30 PM in New York, traders are anticipating a nasty open Monday morning. With a Fed meeting Tuesday and options expiration Friday, this should make for an interesting week.






Greenspan was Framed! Blame bankers’ moral hazard, not their lackey.

Source: The Johnsville News

Source: The Johnsville News

The Cover Story

It has become commonplace to lay blame for the greatest of asset bubbles on the inflationary policies of Sir Allen Greenspan and his employer. A typical critique goes something like this: For the last 20 years, every time the market started to liquidate bad debts and malinvestments (the junk bond bust, the crash of ’87, the early ’90s recession, the LTCM blowup, and dot-com crash), Greenspan just turned on the money spigot and made it all better again with lower rates. Because he so encouraged borrowers and lowered or eliminated reserve limits for lenders, we avoided the necessary catharsis and let bad investment pile upon bad investment, with ever increasing asset prices and debt levels, until we reached the stratosphere last year. By then the system had become so saturated with debt, and asset prices so high, that mass bankruptcy and liquidation was inevitable.

The Real Killers

This history is correct, but not complete, and it lays no blame on the true evil at the heart of the age-old problem of the credit cycle. In any analysis of historical events, one must sift through dunes of BS, and the best way to do that is to ask, Qui Bono? (“as a benefit to whom?”). The answer of course, is bankers and their perennial sidekicks, politicians. The latter designation includes the ‘Maestro,’ whom, while valuable for his mastery of obfuscation, could have easily been replaced had he not played ball. Bankers have no qualms about overextending credit, because they, more than any other party, control the government. Politicians and the bureaucracies they create have always worked for money, and bankers have always been the highest bidders.

The Means

The primary mechanism by which bankers steal from the public is fractional reserve lending, which is enabled by the socialization of losses through FDIC insurance and the Federal Reserve’s monopoly over currency.  FDIC absolves commercial bankers from responsibility for their client’s deposits, and the Fed and Treasury lock the public into the rigged system.

The Motive

Within FDIC limits, depositors have no incentive to seek out banks that employ sound lending standards. Because banks are all equally safe from the depositor’s point of view, bankers have no incentive to be cautious. They have a strong disincentive to be so, because the more credit banks extend (the higher their leverage), and the shakier the enterprises to which they lend (at higher interest), the higher their rate of return during the credit expansion (inflation) phase of the cycle. The name of the game is to grow your balance sheet as fast as possible, with little concern as to reserve ratios or collateralization.

The Opportunity

Once the bust arrives, bank executives have already collected so much in salary and bonuses and sold so much stock to an ever-credulous public, that it isn’t very painful for them if their bank fails, since they have become rich. But once a bank gets big enough (remember, the name of the game is to expand your balance sheet), it is easy for its now powerful executives to ‘convince’ politicians that failure would be so damaging that the Treasury (i.e., public) must assume its debts for the greater good.  At critical times, it may be desirable to cut out the middle man and place a trusted member of the cartel directly in the federal executive.

The Fed is Just an Accomplice

In the meantime, the Federal Reserve is called upon to extend cheap credit to banks in general, which often entails the printing of new paper or digital money. The lower base rates that ensue help banks to get off their feet again by encouraging the public to borrow more than is warranted by economic conditions. (Note: The above is how things worked before we reached Peak Credit last year, and the bankers and Fed are trying with all their might to inflate again, but they will be continually confounded. The game is now over, because nobody wants or can afford any more debt, and banks are finally so impaired by defaults that they cannot lend. Also, at $50 trillion in total private debt, the entire mess is now too big to bail, given the Fed’s mere $900 billion balance sheet.)

A Long History of Offense

So that is it in a nutshell: a completely corrupt monetary system. It is nothing new. We have had episodes like this since before Andrew Jackson abolished the first national bank. So long as a national bank has a monopoly on money creation and legal tender laws obligate the public to use fiat currency and not an alternative such as gold, bankers will retain a lock on the economy and the boom-bust cycle will continue, at great expense to our security and quality of life.

Can They Help it? Isn’t it Just Human Nature?

The credit cycle is a natural phenomenon, yes, but so is war. And just as right-thinking people oppose that other means by which the public is exploited by the oligarchy, so they should oppose fractional reserve lending and the institutions that support it: the Federal Reserve system, the FDIC, and legal tender laws.