Those who wrote $400 billion plus of protection on Lehman’s credit default swaps had been expected to make a substantial payout in the 80% to 85% of face value range, but the preliminary auction showed even worse results.
How the SEC and Treasury had so little clue that Lehman was in such bad shape is beyond me. The vagaries of permitting Level 3 accounting.
-Sellers of credit-default protection on bankrupt Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. would be forced to pay holders 90.25 cents on the dollar under initial results of an auction today, setting up the biggest-ever payout in the $55 trillion market.
Preliminary results of the auction to determine the size of the settlement on Lehman credit-default swaps set an initial value of 9.75 cents on the dollar for the debt, according to Creditfixings.com, a Web site run by auction administrators Creditex Group Inc. and Markit Group Ltd. A final price is scheduled to be announced at 2 p.m. New York time.
The payment would be higher than indicated by trading in Lehman’s $128 billion of bonds yesterday. The debt was trading at an average of 13 cents on the dollar, indicating credit swap sellers would have to pay 87 cents.
More than 350 banks and investors signed up to settle credit-default swaps tied to Lehman. No one knows exactly how much is at stake because there’s no central exchange or system for reporting trades. It’s that lack of transparency that has increased the reluctance of financial institutions to do business with each other, exacerbating the global credit crisis and prompting calls for regulation of the market.
The list of participants includes Newport Beach, California-based Pacific Investment Management Co., manager of the world’s largest bond fund, Chicago-based hedge fund manager Citadel Investment Group LLC, and American International Group Inc., the New York-based insurer taken over by the government, according to the International Swaps and Derivatives Association in New York…..
BNP Paribas SA strategist Andrea Cicione in London estimated earlier today that a 20 cent recovery rate would lead to sellers paying out as much as $220 billion.
“Banks can go to the Federal Reserve, or use the commercial paper market where it is still functioning” to meet protection payments, said Cicione. “But fund managers or hedge funds, once they’ve used their cash, have only one option, to sell assets.”
Defenders of CDS had long argued that the guarantees were hedged with offsetting swaps. We are about to find out whether that true.