All I can say is “ouch”.
The theory is that for every loser there is a winner, but in this market with financial players at risk of failure due to hits to weak equity bases and/or runs, we have a serious asymmetry. A significant loss to an important intermediary, either directly, via CDS payouts, or indirectly, via say forced liquidations by hedge fund leading to distressed prices in instruments they hold, compelling them to recognize losses, would be another blow to b barely functioning markets.
As we have said, the theory was that the major protection writers hedged their positions via offsetting CDS. We’ll soon see how accurate that view was.
Some commentary from Bloomberg:
Based on the results, sellers of protection may need to make cash payments of more than $270 billion, BNP Paribas SA strategist Andrea Cicione in London said. The potential payout is higher than the 90.25 cents indicated by initial results from the auction earlier today. Lehman bonds traded yesterday at 13 cents on the dollar, suggesting a payout of about 87 cents was expected.
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. More than 350 banks and investors signed up to settle credit-default swaps tied to Lehman.
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.
Auction details at CreditFixings (hat tip reader Saboor):