Monday, September 08, 2008

Long-Term Capital: It’s a Short-Term Memory

Market amnesia..... The following article comes from ROGER LOWENSTEIN the author of When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Management. I recommend to read the entire peace.

Manchmal könnte man wirklich meinen das der Markt an unheilbarer Amnesie leidet..... Der nachfolge Bericht kommt von ROGER LOWENSTEIN der den Bestseller When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Management verfasst hat. Ich empfehle den kompletten Report zu lesen. Bleibt zu hoffen das der auch den Weg zu den Aufsichtsbehörden, Zentralbanken usw findet........

Long-Term Capital: It’s a Short-Term Memory NYT
A FINANCIAL firm borrows billions of dollars to make big bets on esoteric securities. Markets turn and the bets go sour. Overnight, the firm loses most of its money, and Wall Street suddenly shuns it. Fearing that its collapse could set off a full-scale market meltdown, the government intervenes and encourages private interests to bail it out.

The firm isn’t Bear Stearns — it was Long-Term Capital Management, the hedge fund based in Greenwich, Conn., and the rescue occurred 10 years ago this month.

AS striking as the parallel is to Bear, Long-Term Capital’s echo is far more profound. Its strategy was grounded in the notion that markets could be modeled. Thus, in August 1998, the hedge fund calculated that its daily “value at risk” — meaning the total it could lose — was only $35 million. Later that month, it dropped $550 million in a day .....

Rather than evaluate financial assets case by case, financial models rely on the notion of randomness, which has huge implications for diversification. It means two investments are safer than one, three safer than two. .....

The fund’s partners likened their disaster to a “100-year flood”— a freak event like Katrina or the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series. (The Cubs last won in 1908; right on schedule, they are in contention to repeat.) But their strategies would have lost big money this year, too.

John W. Meriwether, the fund’s founder, later organized a new fund, which suffered big losses early this year, according to press reports.

If 100-year floods visit markets every decade or so, it is because our knowledge of the cards in history’s deck keeps expanding. When perceptions change, liquidity evaporates quickly. Indeed, the belief that one can safely get out of a “liquid” market is one of the great fallacies of investing.

This lesson went unlearned. Banks like Citigroup and Merrill Lynch felt comfortable owning mortgage securities not because they knew anything about the underlying properties, but because the market for mortgages was supposedly “liquid.” Each firm would write down the value of its mortgage investments by more than $40 billion. .....

....the notion that a private hedge fund with but 16 partners and fewer than 200 employees could cause lasting harm was never truly examined. It was simply accepted.

The concept of too-big-to-fail, exceptional in 1998, is now a staple in the regulators’ playbook. Bear Stearns and, by implication, other troubled investment banks have been taken under Washington’s protective skirts; Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, too. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation is pushing for easier terms for millions of homeowners; auto companies are demanding loan guarantees.

....Incredibly, six months after the Long-Term Capital affair, Mr. Greenspan called for less burdensome derivatives regulation, arguing that banks could police themselves. In the last year, he has been disproved to a fault.

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