Guest Post: In Search Of The Next Big (Widening) Thing

Submitted by Tyler Durden, publisher of Zero Hedge

Every now and then we go through the list of IG11 companies looking for something that just looks out of place. This time around our attention was caught by a financial company, whose CDS was trading at a level which we initially thought had to be a mistake. The company in question is Herndon, Virginia based National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation (corporate ticker NRUC), and the initial reason why we were intrigued by it is that not only was it trading about 800 points tighter than comparable (and since NRUC is rated A1/A, better rated) financial companies including GECC, HSBC Financial and American Express, but on February 19, NRUC actually traded tighter compared to the United States of America itself.

So we dig deeper… Low profile NRUC (no public equity) is a non-profit, tax-exempt financial institution exclusively serving rural electric, service and telecommunication utilities, which was organized in 1969 by rural electric cooperatives (RECs) as an “economically alternative” source to federally subsidized funds from the Rural Utilities Services (RUS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A cursory Google search for the company reveals that despite its lack of media exposure it did briefly make waves on July 16 2007 when Barron’s picked up on a credit downgrade not by the SEC-recognized rating agencies (responsible for such recent events as, hmm, the Second Great Depression) but by small and often ridiculed Egan Jones (noted for having the best independent credit research department with a hit-miss ratio of 96% over the past 7 years, and being an early predictor of the Enron and WorldCom disasters) which cut the company to a whopping B+: smack in the middle of junk bond territory. The reason why a credit downgrade could be critical and potentially deadly to NRUC is that much like AIG and GE, its entire business model is based on its access to cheap capital, which it subsequently lends out to its member firms at slightly higher rates, thereby generating profits on the margin. A downgrade would doom the company as it would only be able to raise capital at much higher, and therefore loss generating, rates. Additionally the company also has rating-based collateral thresholds, which if crossed could trigger over $9 billion notional in interest-rate exchange agreements (more on this later). The Barron’s article so incensed the company that the very next day CEO Sheldon Petersen issued a statement and a letter refuting Egan Jones’ allegations, essentially claiming that E-J is a dwarf when compared to such intellectual giants as S&P and Moody’s, whose “leading ratings analysts will tell you, CFC’s credit fundamentals are strong and our financial underpinnings are rock solid.”

“Despite the fact that CFC’s secured debt has received an A or higher rating from all three SEC-recognized rating agencies since 1972 (and currently has an A+/A1/A+ rating from Standard and Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch, respectively), the article gives undue credence to a deeply flawed report authored by Egan-Jones, an organization that is not designated by the SEC as a nationally recognized statistical rating organization.

“The story subsequently died down and any potential problems at NRUC were buried deep under the carpet… Until late Friday when Egan Jones came back with a bang, downgrading NRUC yet another notch to B. Could they be on to something?

A little background

A glance at the NRUC’s most recent balance sheet gives a very good indication of the company’s business model. Its main asset (aside from $473 million in cash) is $19 billion (or 93% of total assets) in loans to cooperative member firms. The liabilities are also pretty straightforward: the company finances these loans with $17.6 billion in short and long-term debt, $1.5 billion in hybrid debt/equity instruments (labeled as members’ subordinated certificates) which could be interpreted as subordinated debt depending on how one looks at them, and a rapidly declining cushion of book equity which most recently amounted to $364 million.

A more detailed overview of the company can be gleaned by reading the Moody’s report which NRUC has conveniently posted on its website (not surprisingly Egan Jones’ report is nowhere to be found on Looking at the asset side, NRUC provides loans to its member cooperative companies, which for the most part are RECs (89%) of total loans, and Rural Telephone Finance Cooperatives (RTFCs), accounting for 9% of loans.

The Moody’s report can barely contain itself in extolling the virtues of the electric distribution cooperative segment, which amounts to the vast majority of all REC loans made by NRUC:

“Moody’s considers [the distribution cooperative] segment to be among the lowest risk segment across all electric utilities due to the highly predictable nature of the cooperative’s cash flow, the monopoly status of this group, the pass-through mechanisms that typically exists at these entities, and the relatively predictable and steady capital investment requirements which often mirror service territory growth. NRUC is the dominant private lender in the US to this particular segment of the electric cooperative sector.”

In terms of credit quality, 90% of NRUC’s total loan portfolio is secured, usually pari passu with other secured lenders (primarily RUS according to Moody’s).

Moody’s again chimes in:

“This strong collateral position has helped to provide high recovery values for
NRUC in past problem loan debt restructurings and often enables NRUC to receive
the payment of interest and principal while a borrower is operating in

Surprisingly at a time when the LCDX index is trading at around 72, implying roughly comparable recoveries for a broad-based index of loans, Moody’s (in December) was expecting virtually no portfolio losses, even in the event of default, due to expectations for “high recovery values.” While it is still early to determine just how impacted the electrical utility space (and its distribution subspace in particular) will be by the ongoing Great Recession, it is likely safe to assume that it too will not be spared from the “tsunami of defaults” despite its inherent position of strength, as revenue streams decline and member’s loan servicing capacities become constrained, even considering the semi-monopolistic nature of the business. This is already becoming more and more manifest in NRUC’s own operations, as it is currently classifying over $1 billion in loans as “impaired pursuant to SFAS 114”, the bulk of which is concentrated among two problem lenders – bankrupt CoServ Electric, a Denton, Texas distribution coop, which owes NRUC $505 million, and Innovative Communications Corporation (ICC) which has $485 million in outstanding loans with NRUC.

The risks

Just by looking at the trading level of the company’s CDS, one would imagine the company is essentially backstopped by the U.S. government (which, at least implicitly, tends to happen after the U.S. nationalizes or “puts into conservatorship” entities such as the GSEs or AIG, and even the latter has CDS trading north of a 1,000 bps). Curiously, the company, in its Barron’s article refutation make its thoughts quite clear on this matter:

Besides the significant points that CFC highlighted in its Letter to the Editor, Barron’s also made a number of factual errors in their story. Among these are the following:

“Although created by the Agriculture Department in 1969, the cooperative does not carry any ‘implied’ government guarantee….”

CFC was NOT created by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. CFC was created by its member cooperative utilities (under the leadership of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association) to supplement the loans made by the USDA.

NRUC basically acknowledges its role as middleman between the capital markets and the U.S. government and cooperatives, however without any particular reason to believe that the U.S. considers NRUC in the “too large to fail” category.

Assuming NRUC should not be in the same category as Citi and other TBTF institutions, a good starting to point to evaluate corporate risk is the updated report that started it all. Late Friday afternoon, as mentioned, Egan Jones, came out with a report that built upon the concerns it had laid out in its 2007 report. We highlight the summary of Friday’s report.

Needing support – although other rating firms rate NRUC’s senior unsecured at A/A2, we have difficulty finding comfort. For the Nov, 2008 quarter, net interest after provisions was ($91M); including the $139M derivative loss, the pretax loss was $238M. On the balance sheet side, the decline in total equity from $666M for May 2008 to $364M for Nov. 2008 is an issue particularly in light of the $20B of assets. Our concerns remain NRUC’s tight lending margins, relatively small capital base, problems in rolling its $5.7B of Short-Term debt, violations in revolver covenants (see p. 15 of 10Q) and rating triggers on its derivatives. A core issue is whether the federal government will help.

Zero Hedge decided to look a little more in depth into some of these allegations. Our independent analysis indicates that the risks brought up by Egan Jones certainly merit additional consideration.

Growing debt/equity ratio

While the Company’s debt is near all time highs in order to fund a 5 year high of loans to members ($18.9 billion at November 2008 net of allowance for loan losses of $650 million), book equity declined to record low levels, at a mere $364 million for the same time period. The debt/equity ratio has kept growing progressively, hitting a staggering 48.4x late last year.

As part of this analysis we do not take into consideration the $1.5 billion in member subordinated certificates which in theory are debt (earning 5% interest) but have equity like characteristics. The Washington Post presents a good overview of some of the risks embedded in member subordinated certificates:

The key to the CFC’s financial stability is its members. They are required to buy 100-year membership certificates that earn 5 percent annually, but those unsecured CFC debts take a back seat to commercial bondholders. When members borrow money, they buy more certificates. In a pinch, the CFC could defer interest payments on those certificates without hurting commercial bondholders. Finally, in a crunch the CFC could ask its members to raise electricity rates and help.

Egan doubts the value of the member certificates and the CFC’s flexibility in deferring those payments. “A debt holder is unlikely to waive its rights to the timely payment of interest simply because it also has an equity stake,” his firm’s report says. Standard & Poor’s notes that the CFC’s flexibility in raising money from members is limited in the 16 states that regulate cooperatives’ rates and borrowing.

In an interview, Egan said that if CFC “ran into difficulty, then they’d have to go back to co-op members to ask for additional capital, and there’s no guarantee that those co-op members are going to step up to the plate.”

But some rating agencies, including Standard & Poor’s, consider the certificates and subordinated debts to members to be a form of equity. And [Steven Lilly, NRUC CFO] asserted that CFC’s loss reserves are more than adequate to cover any bad loans.

Curiously, the member certificates, which S&P categories as “hybrid capital” seem to be losing favor with even the “big time” rating agencies. In a little noticed S&P report on February 24, the rating agency announced it was downgrading the “hybrid capital securities” of 47 financial institutions, among which was also National Rural’s member certificate class, which was downgraded from BBB+ to BBB. Key criteria which forced S&P to reevaluate this security class were the following:

  • The company has incurred material net losses recently and its near-term financial prospects are poor;
  • The company’s capital ratios are weak;
  • The company is at risk of breaching performance or capital tests that would then require special regulatory approval to continue payments;
    Our CCR on the company is in jeopardy of being lowered to a level that is likely to materially affect its access to and cost of capital (for example, short-term CCR to ‘A-2’ from ‘A-1’);
  • The company has substantially cut or eliminated its common dividend. Such an action means that a certain line has already been crossed as far as market perception is concerned. Also, virtually all hybrid issues contain so-called “dividend stoppers,” whereby the company must continue to make hybrid payments as long as it is paying common dividends. Once the common dividend has been eliminated, the company has a freer hand to defer payments on its hybrids.
As S&P’s concerns becomes shared by Moody’s and Fitch, it is feasible that more and more investors become concerned about this hybrid tranche which had previously been seen as a safe equity buffer above book equity.

Insufficient allowance for Bad Loans
As mentioned by Egan Jones, some of the concern about NRUC revolves around what may be classified as underprovisioning for bad loans. Seeing how the company is already provisioning almost $1 billion in impaired loans for a mere two of its member loans (for a company that takes pride in its diversification, have just two lender bankruptcies account for 5% in terms of impaired to total loans does not seem too prudent). Yet, while the allowance for bad loans has grown on an absolute basis to an all time high of $650 million (yet still below the absolute at risk number of $1 billion based on the impaired calculation, without even giving effect for any other potential defaults or impairments), the 3.3% ratio of loss allowances to total loans seems dangerously low, as it is comparable to the 3.3% rate last seen during the booming 2006.

If the company has indeed underprovisioned for bad loans due to undue economic optimism, this would adversely impact the company’s equity ratio and also lead to a breach of the company’s Minimum permitted 6 running quarters Adjusted TIER covenant which would result in a loss of access to the company’s $3.65 billion credit facility, which was instrumental to the company recently when it almost had a liquidity crunch (more on both in a second). As the allowance for loan provisioning line on the balance sheet (if the case of a loan provision increase) is expensed on the income statement in the provision for loan losses line, which in turn feeds into adjusted net income, there is a danger that in an environment in which loan losses do in fact accelerate the company will be forced to recognize more and more income statement losses, which leads us to…

The TIER Ratio

The company’s primary non-GAAP measure of performance is the so called TIER, or the adjusted Times Interest Earned Ratio. This “represents the interest expense adjusted to include the derivative cash settlements, plus minority interest net income, plus net income prior to the cumulative effect of change in accounting principle and dividing that by the interest expense adjusted to include the derivative cash settlements.” The TIER ratio, together with the senior debt to capital ratios, are important as these form the maintenance covenants on the company’s 3 revolving credit agreements which total $3.65 billion (maturing between March 13, 2009 and March 16, 2012; p.15 of 10-Q). The requirements of the company are to maintain a maximum ratio of senior debt to total equity of 10x (8.11x for the six months ended November 30), a minimum adjusted TIER at the prior fiscal year end of 1.15x (which as the name implies can at most change once a year) and a minimum average adjusted TIER over the six most recent fiscal quarters of 1.025x.

This is the risky ratio, as our own calculations imply that based on the 0.021x multiple margin of safety the company currently has, it only can afford to lose an incremental $30 million in adjusted net income going forward before it breaches the 6 running quarters TIER covenant. The $30 million loss could come from any source: whether it is due to a reduction in net interest income (a potential threat due to the recent increase in cost of debt – more on that also shortly), or an additional loan loss provision, resulting in a critical cutoff of liquidity to the company. And NRUC recently exhibited just why liquidity is so important, when it was forced to raise emergency capital at the mindboggling rate of 10.325% in October 2008!

Liquidity Crunch

After the Lehman bankruptcy, NRUC found itself unable to roll substantial near-term Commercial Paper maturities. This is why on October 7, the company was forced to draw down $418.5 million on its revolver to fund liquidity due to the loss of access to the CP market (p.32 of 10-Q). Luckily, NRUC was included in the government’s emergency Commercial Paper Funding Facility (CPFF), which allows the government to purchase CP direct from issuers who are unable to access capital markets. By using the government as a backstop, the company was again able to roll CP and subsequently paid down the $418.5 million revolver borrowing: curiously, the Company drew down not just the revolver amount, but double that on the CPFF facility. “At November 30 the Company had issued a total of $1,017 billion of commercial paper through the CPFF program.” As NRUC says in its 10-Q: “The Company believes that if accessing the credit markets continued to be difficult, the remaining amounts in the credit facility will be adequate to fund its operations in the near term.” Of course, if the company is in breach on the TIER covenant, its revolver access would go up in smoke.

It gets worse. In October 2008, the Company apparently needed a whole lot more cash: so much so that it came to market with a 10 year $1 billion Collateral Trust Bonds issue which priced at a staggering 10.375% interest rate, almost double the rate it was charged for its June 2008 $900 million collateral trust bond. The CTB rate is so high that it is probably an immediate loss center for the company as it likely much higher than any rate it charges its member companies for issued loans. The scramble for additional liquidity continued as the company also raised $500 million (at a 57.5 bps over comparable treasuries) under US Treasury (specifically the Federal Financing Bank, or FBB) subsidized Rural Economic Development Loan And Grant (REDLG) in September 2008, of which it had a total outstanding balance of $3 billion at November 30, and another $230 million which was raised (at a 4.735% rate) under the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation (Farmer Mac), per a revised $500 million note purchase agreement with Farmer Mac. The company has this to say about the liquidity scramble in the post-Lehman aftermath:

“The high cost of the $1 billion collateral trust bonds did not have a significant effect on funding cost for the six months ended November 30, 2008, as it was only outstanding for about a month and a half during the period and the impact was offset slightly by the lower cost on the $500 million REDLG advance in September 2008. The impact of this higher cost debt on future periods is mitigated by the fact that the $1 billion represents only 5 percent of the total debt outstanding, the lower cost REDLG and Farmer Mac debt issuance and by the fact that by November 30, 2008, the spread for LIBOR rates over the federal funds rate decreased significantly from the extremely high spreads experienced in September and October of 2008.”

Obviously the high interest rate will manifest itself in the company’s Q3 numbers and could lead to a material drop in net interest income. What is very odd is that in this environment in which as the company acknowledges “companies experienced difficulty issuing long-term debt, and for the companies that were able to issue long-term debt, the interest rate on the debt included historically high spreads over comparable treasuries” NRUC was issuing incremental member loans, with total gross loans to members rising to $19.6 billion from $19.4 billion in the prior quarter. One could argue the prudent response would have been to reduce loan issuance activity in a capital constrained environment.

Downgrade Triggers

This is where the NRUC story becomes eerily reminiscent of AIG’s. The company is in many ways held hostage by its current rating under both Moody’s, S&P and Fitch. This is manifest in three places:

1) The company’s $3 billion REDLG notes (as already mentioned) have a rating agency trigger. As page 13 of the 10-Q notes:

The $3.0 billion of notes payable to the FFB contain a rating trigger related to the Company’s senior secured credit ratings from Standard & Poor’s Corporation, Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings. A rating trigger event exists if the Company’s senior secured debt does not have at least two of the following ratings: (i) A- or higher from Standard & Poor’s Corporation, (ii) A3 or higher from Moody’s Investors Service, (iii) A- or higher from Fitch Ratings and (iv) an equivalent rating from a successor rating agency to any of the above rating agencies. If the Company’s senior secured credit ratings fall below the levels listed above, the mortgage notes on deposit at that time, which totaled $3,811 million at November 30, 2008, would be pledged as collateral rather than held on deposit. At November 30, 2008, National Rural’s senior secured debt ratings were above the rating trigger threshold.

It becomes obvious why the Rating Agencies are instrumental to the company’s longevity: a 3 notch downgrade from the current senior secured rating of A/A1/A would severely limit the company to government funded liquidity in the form of the $3 billion in REDLG notes it has on the balance sheet currently.

2) As Moody’s notes on page 11 of its report, NRUC has $9.2 billion notional amount in interest rate exchange agreements, which has rating triggers, this time based on the company’s senior unsecured credit rating from Moody’s or S&P:

“If NRUC’s rating for senior unsecured debt from either agency falls below the level specified in the agreement, the counterparty may, but is not obligated to, terminate the agreement. Upon termination, both parties would be required to make all payments that might be due to the other party. If NRUC’s senior unsecured rating from Moody’s or S&P declines to Baa1 or BBB+, respectively, the counterparty may terminate agreements with a total notional amount of $1.919 billion. If NRUC’s senior unsecured rating from Moody’s or S&P falls below Baa1 or BBB+, respectively, the counterparty may terminate the agreement on the remaining total notional amount of $7.314 billion.”

The prospect of having to terminate $9 billion in swap would likely have reverberations across both of NRUC’s income and cash flow statements.

3) Lastly, the increasing reliance the company has on government funding in the form of CPFF borrowing, makes it critical that the company does not lose A-1/P-1/F-1 rating which is the cutoff for CPFF eligibility. As noted NRUC currently has over $1 billion in CPFF borrowings (a number that could grow by an additional $2.9 billion soon, see below) which it would have to find alternative ways to finance if two or more of the rating agencies turn hostile on the company.

While NRUC is nowhere near to having the collateral posting requirements that its higher rated cousin GECC has, the threat of downgrades should be factored when evaluating the full risk picture of the company (and as we have written recently, the rating agencies have lately been on a massive downgrade spree, especially in high yield and cross over corporate names).

$5.7 billion in Near-Term debt maturities

On page 14 of the 10-Q the company highlights its one-year debt maturities:

And while we assume that the company should have little trouble with rolling its CP maturities into the CPFF program, the balance of almost $3 billion in debt could prove to be quite a burden if the recent 10%+ note issuance is any indication of market appetite for the company’s debt.


It looks like the financial whirlwind has so far spared NRUC, as even its higher rated financial peers have seen their CDS levels explode over the past couple of weeks. Egan Jones estimates that in a worst case scenario, liquidation values for the company would imply a recovery rate of approximately 42.8%, and furthermore in its March 6 report, the agency estimates the likelihood of 1 year default at 14%, which leads Egan Jones to conclude “the CDS price is cheap based on EJR’s Recovery Rate”. How cheap? Using JPM’s recently outsourced CDSW screen and plugging in those variables (and using a flat curve), implies that CDS is is fairly priced at approximately 825 bps, implying roughly 675 bps of upside to Friday’s CDS closing level of 150bps.

While there are likely numerous factors that we have omitted, both positive and negative (on which we welcome our readers’ input), we question the logic of the implied risk of National Rural Utilities trading at virtually the same level as that of the United States of America. Also keeping in mind that NRUC was created, in the first place, to provide an alternative to federally funded loans, the fact that its balance sheet is becoming more and more federally capitalized, may present the question of whether it needs to exist in the first place.

A last observation is the potential negative basis opportunity that exists in NRUC, if one even takes the 10.375% notes recently issued, which closed at 117 on Friday, implying a 484 Z spread, and a potential pick up of 330bps in spread. A CRVD screen indicates that at no point on the NRUC CDS curve is there a basis that is not negative. Due to the ICE clearinghouse launch, and our firm belief that basis trades will converge substantially as a result of the clearinghouse, it would seem that NRUC is a diamond in the rough, if not for its operations, then definitely from a purely trading stand point.

Disclaimer: Zero Hedge has no holdings in any NRUC securities.

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  1. Anonymous

    Holy shit. Put some tea on, this is a wonky tomb by blogging standards..

    It’ll take some time getting used to the guest posters’ styles, but seems like a positive addition.. it’ll be interesting to see if and how a conversation develops between Yves and crew.

    Welcome to NC, Tyler.

    (Just my two cents, I like Yves’ knack for telling readers where her post/analysis is going w/ a little wit and behind-closed-doors commentary, right up front. Not sure if you’re writing unique posts for NC, or just cross posting, but that dressed-down style of NC seems to be the honey that sweetens the seemingly dull wonk it is commenting on.)

  2. Tyler Durden

    thanks for advice. this one was wonk heavy for any CDS fans out there. my style is usually much lighter and will adhere to that going forward

  3. RockyR

    Wow. Nice piece of market research. Admittedly, a little different than the ordinary missive from Yves…

  4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    My apologies, but as I am busy today with many hours of meditation, would someone please simplify it for me. Thanks.

  5. Anonymous


    You have to be really careful letting others use your blog to post what are essentially buy or sell recommendations on individual stocks. There are some blogs that have been set up as investment/economics blogs, but whose real purpose, alongside the economic commentary, is to pump and dump (or short and distort) individual stocks. After convincing their readership to take a long or short position (which they usually do using options), the blog authors then make a killing taking the opposite end of the trade, because of course their readership didn’t do their own analysis and just did whatever the blog author recommended. And of course they had no position in any stocks that they commented about (except for that offshore account in Canada, or wherever, of course).

    You have to be careful about allowing your blog to be used in this way.

  6. CCT

    Zero Hedge has a lot of credibility in my eyes. One of my favorite reads on its own, and the cross-postings are very convenient IMO.

    Absolutely a style change from what Yves usually presents, but in my opinion, a useful one. Very, very educational.

  7. Daniel

    I took this article as more about CDS issues, Credit rating agency arrogance/corruption, and market inefficiencies. I’ve never interpreted Zero Hedge as a buy/sell recommendations blog.

    “…because of course their readership didn’t do their own analysis and just did whatever the blog author recommended”

    Seems to me the author here put together a better research report than anything I’ve ever read outside of GS Institutional research.

  8. Richard Smith

    Anonymous 3:29 relax. Zero Hedge is a site for hedgies – take a look. Every now and then there is a CDS trade writeup or an arb of some kind. It’s just not retail investor territory. NURC is a case in point since the equity isn’t publicly traded, and anyway the recommendation is for a CDS basis trade.

    There is plenty of good macro commentary and big bank coverage over at Zero Hedge. Much though I love analytical heavy lifting, particularly if someone else is doing it, I suppose this was a mildly eccentric choice for a first post at NC. But kind of interesting to see some analysis done, huh?

    I expect Tyler will get his eye in.

  9. Gringcorp

    Egan-Jones thinks there will be a 42% recovery rate on loans to rural co-ops? Now, I know this little nugget isn’t entirely important to NRUFC’s survival, since its business, much like the bond insurers’, depends upon a high rating. But to CDS traders I dare say it has a small amount of relevance. The co-ops are as highly leveraged as NRUFC, it is true, and NRUFC has to queue up alongside other lenders such as CoBank etc, if co-ops default. We’ve got a lot of telecoms exposure in there too. But let us remember one lovely fact about the co-ops: they can charge their members and consumers whatever the hell they like, and no-one, not the Feds, not state regulators, can do anything about that. In the event of default, lenders run those assets to maximize recoveries, and will be within their rights to jack up rates to do so. And let’s look at those membership certificates. Their being downgraded somehow serves to illustrate their lack of use as a capital cushion? It might be difficult to raise additional equity, probably more so than it would be for, ahem, a bank in trouble. But the member certificates don’t, in this instance “safe equity buffer above book equity”, they are the equity, such as it is.

    For all that, this was a ripping post, and I wish there were more discussions like this around.

  10. TB Apple

    This post sounds more like the Narrator of “Fight Club”, not his alter ego, Tyler Durden.

    I would love to see this type of in-depth analysis applied to the financial sub-plot of the movie; Credit Reporting Agencies and giving citizens, rather then corporations, a clean slate.

  11. Richard Smith

    Oh, meant to say – interesting points about Egan Jones vs other agencies, and about these peculiar half-government, half-private-company entities that crop up.

    For my part, wouldn’t mind seeing more of this kind of post here.

  12. Anonymous

    We’re (taxpayers) down 123 Billion…..Ethisphere TARP Index Sees Largest Drop since Its Creation

    Index Drops $20.7 Billion; Down $123 Billion Overall

    * Monday March 9, 2009, 11:43 am EDT
    NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–According to the Ethisphere TARP Index, when markets closed on Friday, March 6, 2009, the government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) investment was down approximately $123 billion out of the original investment principal of $306.1 billion. Created by the Ethisphere Institute, a non-partisan research think tank, the Ethisphere TARP Index tracks the U.S. Federal Government’s return on its investments under the capital purchase portion of TARP. To date, each taxpaying household has lost $1,082 of its investment……

  13. Anonymous

    Excellent! Different from the usual, but very, very educational. Thank you, and thanks to Yves as well. Keep it up!

  14. Anonymous

    Excellent analysis!!! Truly excellent!!! We need to have more of this kind of in-depth analysis on this blog.

    That Tyler Durden is a real genius!!! And such a sexy hunk, too! In fact, I want to marry him and bear his children, he’s so sexy!!!

    [ Part of the sales technique, to get the crowd of suckers to buy what you’re selling (or to short what you’re buying), is to have anonymous commenters heap praise on the original blog poster. ]

  15. brushes9

    -What’s wrong, forget to short your own soul?

    If you are searching for a silver lining, it is dirt-cheap energy prices while we extend this socialist project called America, already happening among the poor, to the richest of Americans, too!

    After all, isn’t it these rich fraudster’s trucks that are pounding our roads and bridges to ash, their planes polluting our air, while they lobby us to cut their taxes?

    Give me a break! Forget, CDO’s, CDS’s, “payoffs to Goldmen Sachs,” and the rest of your whiny complaints. You have me to worry about, now! The intelligent American with nothing to lose, Obama’s base! Not weak, but the ones who do not push paper,..the strong ones who can handle anything!

    The ones that you screwed and then strangled in that empty hallway before you got your promotion. The brother, protecting mom, that you betrayed, and your dad beat hard that night, while you coward in your room. Well, we are reconstructed and we are back!

    You thought that you could paddle up that bloody creek of other-peoples’ skulls and bones right up to your own 100ft yacht, too. But you were wrong! That is your only “mal-investment.” You whole life is a lie. Your only accounting error, now, is that you forgot to short your own soul!

    Now, take your bowl and get in line.

  16. Richard Smith

    Anonymous of 7:25 perhaps you’d like to explain to us suckers what the trade is that Tyler’s proposing and how we would get it executed. We might then conclude that you have a clue: or not.

    You’ll have noticed that I’m not anonymous. Likewise, I’ve noticed that you *are*.

  17. joebhed

    Maybe more Americans should think about a cooperative form of banking.
    It’s less risky.

  18. Anonymous

    So what effects will the stimulus have on the financial basis of rural energy organizations like the one discussed?

    Thanks for the educational posting.

  19. Tyler Durden

    @ 8.53 – very good question. I posted today on Zerohedge about the implications to utilities and coops (
    arising from the new "smart grid" push which is subsidized by $4.5 billion in the stimulus package. turns out the ramifications for consumers will be very adverse, but dont take my words for it. S&P says: "All U.S. citizens will be expected to pay for this new smart grid (either through higher rates or taxes) which is estimated by some accounts to be in the hundreds of billions of dollars." The irony is that by pushing the distribution system off fossil fuels, costs will rise dramatically, which is probaly not the best policy in this economic climate.

  20. Anonymous

    This level of analysis is dry. I can’t speak with any authority to the merits of the arguments made here on first reading. I’ve found that re-reading and cross-referencing any difficult to follow argument almost always makes the knottier parts more palatable. This seems a tad long and deep for the ‘low-information’ reader, like me. However, it is well-written, well-argued and approachable. Those better informed will ‘get it’ at first read. I’ve no objection to taking longer, if the journey is worth the effort. Here it usually is. I trust Yves to select folks who will add to the value of this blog and wouldn’t mind more of this sort of analysis in the mix. I agree very much, btw, on the utility of Yves editorial comments inserted at key points in quoted passages. Welcome and thanks, Tyler.

  21. Anonymous

    Good article Tyler. Cut the length down by at least 1/3. Just imagine someone reading that on a mobile device.

    Use power verbs!

  22. IF

    If the NRUC is trading too cheap compared to the US of A, then maybe (just maybe) the protection on the US of A is too expensive.

    Honestly, while I am mildly interested in NRUC (looked a bit at them before), I am not sure readers of NC want to digest many articles as hefty as this one. (The article is not bad, just offtopic/specialized?)

    Also, as remarked by others, NC never really mentioned trades before (ignoring lake properties and NY luxury rentals). Walking a fine line.

  23. killben

    "The Barron's article so incensed the company that the very next day CEO Sheldon Petersen issued a statement and a letter refuting Egan Jones' allegations, essentially claiming that E-J is a dwarf when compared to such intellectual giants as S&P and Moody's, whose "leading ratings analysts will tell you, CFC's credit fundamentals are strong and our financial underpinnings are rock solid."

    HAVE I HEARD THIS SOMEWHERE .. striking similar to statements made by Lehman, Bears, AIG, Citi …. before they imploded ..

    I am waiting … and I may not have to wait long …

  24. russell1200

    I liked the article. The topic seems on point: it is warning of another meltdown area. It obviously backs up its assertions with more specifics than most.

    Seems like it would be easy enough to skim over the occasional article that is not of interest.

  25. Anonymous

    This post does not really work without the technical details, so I have no complaints in that respect however there is no real concise summary of what this shows. In essence I think you arguing that the major ratings agencies have made a serious mistake in not delving into the finances of NRUC more deeply. Not only have the ratings agencies got it wrong but the markets are also miss pricing the risk for this company. The message here is that due diligence is still not being done, with share holders and debt holders just skimming the surface as usual. Accounting while according to the rules gives perhaps a misguiding view, ratings agencies have made a hash of things and market players continue to be unsophisticated. How many more problems which have been glossed over will come to light.

    Whether we choose to believe Egan Jones who admittedly has an impressive reputation the thrust of their argument seems to be ifs and buts which may not come to pass. Clearly Moodys have got it wrong with the company declaring impaired loans when Moody’s said there was none and standard and poor’s argument that the certificates and subordinated debt contribute to equity is stretching things abit. Key is the Adjusted tier covenant I guess and the 3.65 billion credit facility resting on it, although it is not certain that some sort of accommodation might not be worked out.

  26. Anonymous

    Reply to joebhed re: co-op banking. Credit Unions are not without risk, we are discovering. Check this:

    Here’s the nasty bottom line:
    The NCUA’s plan calls for all federally-insured natural-person credit unions in the U.S. to pay an increased insurance premium to the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF) in the second half of 2009 to make up for the investment losses at U.S. Central, …
    Corporate Credit Unions got burned by the subprime mess and we are having to pickup the slack.
    Corporates perform a similar function for CR Unions as NRUC does for REC’s.
    Yes, alot of wonk in this piece but worthwhile!

  27. Anonymous

    If NRUC is reserving only $450 million for the Innovative loan, that would be interesting. It is in bankruptcy and there were no bidders for it main assset, the telephone company in the virgin islands. NRUC loaned over $100 million for two cable companies (in France) and only netted $10 million on the recent sale The virgin island company is incumbered by 90 million or so of preferred. It hat 70,000 customer so do the arithmetic of value of telcos.

  28. Anonymous


    Besides 90 M of Pref. Stk there is 63 M of RUS debt, a pension liab. of 18 M, 27.5 M owed to Greenlight and 4 M owed to the Ch 7 Trustee. RTFC must sell for at least 184.5 M just to break even. This doens’t count 20 M plus of unpaid professional fees woed. As you can se the 500 M loan is worth 0 to RTFC. Thais is why they are credit bidding, which will allow them to falsify the balance they carry this loan at.

  29. Anonymous

    VITELCO/ICC debt or equity ahead of RTFC/CFC
    Pref. Stk. 90M, R
    US 63M, Pension 18M,Ch 7 4M, Greenlight 27.5M, Prof. fees 15M. Therfore it must be sold for at least 217.5M before RTFC/CFC get a penny. That is why they want to credit bid. They did this on Co SERV and recorded the loan on their books at 320M more than COSERV’s audit. Called fraud

  30. Anonymous

    NRUC claims their loan is pari passu w/ the secured RUS claim (seems like a stretch, but this case has several odd turns). See the attached link for some color on this topic:

    If the other Vitelco creditors put up a fight and the BK courts agrees that NRUC ranks behind the other Vitelco claims, then NRUC probabaly drops the $250M credit bid forcing NRUC to recognize the loss…. direct hit to their TIER ratios.

    Anyone catch the odd 8-k on the Farmer Mac note refi? Why refi a loan in this market that doesn’t mature until 2013? And why would NRUC subject themselves to interest rates that “will be determined at time of each advance” versus the existing facilities permanent L+57.5? Either a) NRUC did FarmerMac a favor (FarmerMAc could reserve less capital against a revolver structure vs a TL structure? Or help FarmerMac better match A/L rates?) or, b) FarmerMac was able to force the change b/c NRUC was going to violate the terms of the existing agreement. Maybe there’s a more logical explanation….. Bueller, Bueller?

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