Links 12/26/07

Lawsuits as an Asset Class Felix Salmon

Credit Downturn Hits the Malls Wall Street Journal. The commercial real estate contraction picks up speed.

Risk Management at Morgan Stanley An Overview Tom Daula. Morgan Stanley. Rick Bookstaber posted this tidbit on his website and dryly notes that “things did not work out according to plan.” I call your attention to a few key quotes:

“Doctrine of No Surprises”: Risk management processes are designed to ensure senior management has the information required to achieve these objectives….

Limits

−Established at various levels throughout the Firm from trader tobusiness and are defined in terms of risk sensitivities, concentrations and portfolio exposures

−Generally set at levels to ensure that a material change in risktaking triggers a discussion between the trader or trading desk and management

Now recall that Morgan Stanley’s $9.4 billion loss took place on a single desk, and appeared to result from a very few positons (a position and a related hedge). It seems incomprehensible how this could have occurred (trades get in trouble, but the mystery here is how it got so large before it was shut down). Some readers object, but we think the comment we got from an insider in a position to know, that this disaster started out as an error, is plausible. Reconfiguring a trade to try to stem losses, and then trying to double your way out of a hole is classic behavior.

Mortgage foreclosure & refinance resource Mortgage Foreclosure Litigation. A reader pointed out this refinance wizard, which lets you see what foreclosure-avoidance program you qualify for.

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