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Posts Tagged ‘originate to distribute model’

Retaining Risk on Wall Street: Necessary but Painful

Posted by Larry Doyle on November 5th, 2009 1:03 PM |

How did Wall Street lead the United States economy into the ditch?

The pure ‘originate to distribute’ model employed on Wall Street spelled the death knell for Wall Street and our economy.

I addressed how firms won under that originate to distribute model in a commentary from November 12, 2008, “The Wall Street Model Is Broken….and Won’t Soon Be Fixed!!”:

At the turn of the century, the Wall Street model was a pure “originate to distribute” model with little to no residual risk on behalf of the originators or underwriters. When there is no residual risk, those who “WIN” are the players that can purely process the most volume. Well, how does one get volume? Lower the credit standards, put fewer restrictions on borrowers, little to no covenants (NINA Loans: no income, no asset check). WOW!!! What were we thinking?? Well, Wall St. felt, “let’s worry about it tomorrow or maybe not at all because we are making too much money today.”

Tomorrow has arrived and Wall Street must now deal with the concept of retaining risk in their loan originations. The topic of ‘risk retention’ has been bandied about over the course of the year, but it was ratcheted up dramatically in a recent meeting of the House Financial Services Committee and U.S. Treasury on October 27th.

What came out of that meeting has potentially dramatic implications for the entire spectrum of loan origination, securitization, and distribution businesses on Wall Street and their subsequent impact on Main Street. Let’s navigate. (more…)

Let’s Look Under the Washington Mutual Rock

Posted by Larry Doyle on May 28th, 2009 1:02 PM |

Many people may think Washington Mutual is just another large financial conglomerate that has since gone into thrift heaven via its takeover by JP Morgan. While WaMu is now part of the JPM franchise, it continues to send very real signs which provide great insight as we navigate the economic landscape.

Thank you to our friends at 12th Street Capital for highlighting a release put forth yesterday by Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO of JP Morgan. As the Financial Times reports, JP Morgan Warns on Credit Card Woes:   

Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan Chase chief executive, warned on Wednesday that loss rates on the credit card loans of Washington Mutual, the troubled bank acquired last year by JPMorgan, could climb to 24 per cent by the year end.

In the past, credit card loss rates have tracked the unemployment rate but that relationship has been breaking down for more troubled credit card portfolios, such as the $25.9bn in WaMu credit card loans.

At the end of the first quarter, 12.63 per cent of the WaMu credit card loans were deemed uncollectable by JPMorgan. The bank estimates that figure could reach 18 to 24 per cent by the end of 2009, depending on economic conditions.

The initial question begs as to how and why the credit performance of WaMu’s cardholders could be that much worse than the industry as a whole. For those unfamiliar with Washington Mutual, the institution made a failed attempt to penetrate the Wall Street fortress via leveraging its credit origination platform. WaMu was one of the most aggressive lenders across the spectrum of products. As I wrote back on November 12th in The Wall Street Model Is Broken….and Won’t Soon Be Fixed:    

At the turn of the century, the Wall Street model was a pure “originate to distribute” model with little to no residual risk on behalf of the originators or underwriters. When there is no residual risk, those who “WIN” are the players that can purely process the most volume. Well, how does one get volume? Lower the credit standards, put fewer restrictions on borrowers, little to no covenants (NINA Loans: no income, no asset check). 

Washington Mutual was the poster child for aggressive, if not irresponsible, lending. When their distribution capabilities ceased, the institution was left “holding the bag.” That bag was filled with credit cards now projected by the TOP banker on the street to default at twice the norm. What more can we learn in this process? Let’s dig deeper. (more…)

All The King’s Horses and All The King’s Men . . .

Posted by Larry Doyle on May 6th, 2009 11:37 AM |

Can Barack Obama’s horses and men in the persons of Ben Bernanke, Tim Geithner, Larry Summers, Paul Volcker, Rham Emanuel, Sheila Bair, and their minions put Wall Street together again? The glue and putty in the form of trillions of dollars of taxpayer funds and commitments is still wet. Mr. “Humpty Dumpty” Wall Street is still on the ground.

Humpty’s most severe injury is the breakdown of the securitization process in which Wall Street promoted a pure “originate to distribute” model. Obama himself offered in the May 3rd Sunday New York Times Magazine:

. . . we’re going to have to figure out what we do with the nonbanking sector that was providing almost half of our credit out there. And we’re going to have to determine whether or not as a consequence of some of the steps that the Fed has been taking, the Treasury has been taking, that we see the market for securitized products restored.

I’m optimistic that ultimately we’re going to be able to get that part of the financial sector going again, but it could take some time to regain confidence and trust.

Time for the cement to harden and for Humpty to get back on his feet. Why will it take so much time? Very simply, Humpty was not an honest broker in the process of originating, securitizing, and distributing poorly written – if not fraudulently written – loans over the last 5 to 7 years. The Financial Times highlights this fact this morning in Securitization Is Crucial for Revitalizing Lending.” The FT reports:

Securitisation is a way to raise money by repackaging securities based upon underlying assets such as mortgages.

The US government is seeking to restart this market with up to $1,000bn of funding for purchases of securitised debt. But the complexity and risks involved mean it remains difficult to replicate the scale of the market that collapsed under the weight of losses and the departure of leveraged investors.

Meredith Whitney, of Meredith Whitney Advisory Group, says about $2,200bn less in funds has been raised by means of the US capital markets since the start of the credit crunch in July 2007, with $2,700bn less money raised globally.

She said: “With debt issuance to date seeing year-on-year gains, it is suggestive to say that things aren’t getting much worse. They just aren’t getting any better.”

The US government’s programme to revive securitisation – the Term asset-backed securities loan facility (Talf) – has made some funds available and it has also led spreads on some asset classes to narrow, reducing the potential funding costs. The programme works by lending money to hedge funds, which can increase the returns on triple A rated securities by means of the cheap loans.

In a sign of a big pick-up in demand, the Federal Reserve said late yesterday that investors requested $10.6bn worth of loans in its most recent round of the programme. This included $2.2bn worth of requests for auto loan bonds and $5.5bn for bonds backed by credit card loans.

If we review those statistics, the government’s TALF (Term Asset-Backed Lending Facility) has facilitated $18.5 billion in sales since its launch in March. While the Fed views the demand as picking up, be mindful that the $18.5 billion figure represents approximately .008 of the total credit that has evaporated from the economy via the shadow banking system. In layman’s terms, we just gave Humpty a swab with a warm cloth while his limb is holding on by a thread.

My concern with the TALF is that the buyers will cherry pick bank assets and simply purchase those which have the most rigorous underwriting. The dregs will be left for the banks and taxpayers to absorb.

If Uncle Sam does get Humpty somewhat propped back up against the wall (note that I’m not even hinting at Humpty getting “on the wall”), how do we make sure Humpty does not once again fall down and take us all with him?

We need to make sure Humpty plays by strict rules and regulations, both in terms of underwriting and business engagement. The FT addresses proposed underwriting rules in “Watchdog Proposes Strict Rules.”  The FT reports,

Yesterday’s Iosco (International Organization of Securities Commissions) report called for minimum levels of due diligence by the originators and suggested mandating far greater disclosure to investors of what checks had been carried out. It also called for ongoing disclosure to investors of the performance of the underlying assets and for originators to be forced to hold on to some tranches of each deal.

Other proposals included imposing standards forcing originators to check that products were suitable for each investor and looking into developing alternative measures of assessing risk other than the credit ratings agencies that were relied on by investors previously.

Wow, you mean Humpty actually has to display a measure of integrity in his operations?  What a novel idea!  Who may be keeping an eye on Humpty to make sure he plays by the rules going forward? The SEC and FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority).

Hey, wait a second. When Humpty fell off the wall, we have very credible evidence that FINRA was actually one of his playmates. None other than Harry Markopolos said that FINRA was on the wall (“in bed”) with Humpty. I have highlighted issues within FINRA that still need to be addressed: FINRA Is Supposed To Police The Market.

President Obama, what do you prescribe for Humpty given his relationship with FINRA? Obama told the Times,

. . . the fact that we had such poor regulation means — in some of these markets, particularly around the securitized mortgages — means that the pain has been democratized as well. And that’s a problem. But I think that overall there are ways in which people have been able to participate in our stock markets and our financial markets that are potentially healthy. Again, what you have to have, though, is an updating of the regulatory regimes comparable to what we did in the 1930s, when there were rules that were put in place that gave investors a little more assurance that they knew what they were buying.

Putting Humpty back together is going to be very challenging. Sense on Cents will be monitoring the operation very closely.

LD

For newer readers who may want to more fully understand how Humpty “had a great fall,” I strongly recommend The Wall Street Model Is Broken….and Won’t Soon Be Fixed.

The Wall St. Model is Broken . . . and Won’t Soon be Fixed!!

Posted by Larry Doyle on November 12th, 2008 12:15 PM |

Despite billions and now trillions of dollars in capital injections and equity investments made by our government, private equity, and sovereign wealth funds, our economic turmoil is a long way from being over. I do find it interesting that despite numerous Wall Street titans having indicated to us at different points over the last year that we were in the 7th inning of this fiasco, now a recurring theme is that we should not expect any real economic recovery until 2010. Actually, maybe we were in the 7th inning but it was the 7th inning of the first game of a 4 game series.

Well, if we want to figure out where and when we are moving forward, I think it would be beneficial to know from where and when we came.

For those over 50 years of age, perhaps you remember when mortgage money dried up. Perhaps you also recall the days of putting down 20% before you even thought of buying a home. In any event, the growth of the secondary mortgage market in the mid 1980s was a result of some very sharp financial minds on Wall St. who engineered a product called a Collateralized Mortgage Obligation (CMO). (more…)






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