Monday, 15 October 2007

Where's the mark, Chuck?

The importance of my earlier question about how the MLEC will price the assets it is going to purchase is highlighted by an article in the FT today:

[It has emerged that] Axon Financial, a SIV linked with the US hedge fund TPG-Axon, had taken losses of $110m on sales of $3bn of its investments.

Very crudely scaling from $110m on $3b to Citi's $100b in conduit assets gives us a loss of $3b. So we know a real mark to liquidation would really really hurt. The market is so illiquid at the moment that it's hard to be sure until you try to sell of course. So it should be no surprise to learn that many banks have not yet marked their conduit assets down:

One banker said last week: “The banks have varied enormously in terms of how much they have marked down their books – of course there are some that want to avoid the big write-downs.”

The MLEC then looks like an attempt at creating a new vehicle the banks can claim is arms length and which they can use to justify valuations which might not really be liquidation levels. That helps in turn helps the banks other conduits and the value of their on-balance sheet ABS. If you tell people it's worth par often enough, loudly enough, maybe it will be...

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