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Posts Tagged ‘CDOs’

The World of Wall Street CDOs or “Don’t Lie to Me”

Posted by Larry Doyle on May 13th, 2010 2:18 PM |

News that the SEC and federal prosecutors are further investigating Wall Street firms involved in the structuring and distribution of CDOs (collateralized debt obligations) is not a surprise. Although Goldman Sachs has been targeted initially for its marketing of an Abacus transaction in conjunction with Paulson and Co., the simple fact is Goldman was not anywhere close to the largest player in this space. Who was? Well, I should more appropriately ask, “Who wasn’t?” All of Wall Street jumped on the CDO gravy train. (more…)

Citigroup: The Blind Leading the Blind

Posted by Larry Doyle on April 7th, 2010 1:28 PM |

When in doubt, hire a consultant.

When something fails, blame the consultant.

Shirk responsibility and pass the buck.

When will somebody with a set of balls on Wall Street stand up and take responsibility for the massive failures of risk management and business execution which led to the economic crisis which brought our country to its knees?  (more…)

Goldman’s Prop Trading and Reputational Risk

Posted by Larry Doyle on March 12th, 2010 2:52 PM |

On Wall Street, information is everything.

Timely access to information as to who is buying/selling what, how much they are buying/selling, and why they are buying/selling is absolutely invaluable. The Wall Street banks fight tooth and nail to protect their information franchises.

That said, there are supposed to be rules as to how information is handled and processed so that trading complies with the rules of the road. Banks are not supposed to front run clients. Banks are not supposed to give up client names. Do the banks practice what the regulators preach?   (more…)

“KYC” and “Suitability” Violations Occur All Too Often on Wall Street

Posted by Larry Doyle on October 26th, 2009 9:33 AM |

“We’re in the moving business, not the storage business!!”

If I had a nickel for the number of times I heard that line on Wall Street, I’d have a lot of nickels. That statement would coarse across many trading floors to push salespeople to sell, sell, sell and sell some more.

The sales process on Wall Street is not supposed to be the ‘boiler-room’ operations as so often depicted in films and books. Wall Street sales is not supposed to be a mere “dialing for dollars.” Prior to engaging prospective clients, salespeople and sales managers are obligated to address certain requirements. What may they be? The two primary requirements are:

1. KYC, an abbreviation for “know your customer.” This requirement addresses the need to fully understand the client’s business, its source of funds, its investment objectives, and much more. This requirement is extremely important, but regrettably often not fulfilled. Instead of “KYC,” many salespeople and sales managers view customers more from the standpoint of “he has money, I like him.” Given that shortsighted view, Wall Street often violates the second cardinal rule of sales.

2. Suitability addresses the requirement that an investment product meets the objectives of the customer. Interpreting this requirement is not as easy as some may believe. Where is the line drawn? What product may fit? What products definitely do not fit? All too often, the topic of suitability is addressed after the fact rather than prior to sale. Why does this happen? (more…)

Change The Rules of The Game

Posted by Larry Doyle on March 13th, 2009 8:07 AM |

Well, when you do not like how a game is going, change the rules.

The primary reason for the market rally yesterday was a Congressional hearing pressuring FASB (Financial Accounting Standards Board) to revise its rule known as the “mark-to-market.”  Thank you FL for providing a heads up on this hearing.

In layman’s terms, the mark-to-market is the equivalent of inventory valuation.  Nobody likes when inventory declines in value but if that is the reality, then so be it. Would your banker laugh at you if you told him you weren’t going to properly mark inventory? Do you think he’d continue to offer you a line of credit? Are we supposed to invest in banks without a credible mark-to-market?

I have VERY mixed feelings about changing this rule. I do think there are merits in never having imposed this rule for certain less liquid assets, such as commercial real estate. However, the pressure banks are applying on Congress and Congress, in turn, on FASB is for a suspension of the mark-to-market on so called super-senior classes of CDOs.

Make no mistake, if this rule is changed it will provide capital relief because the “inventory will not have to be marked down.” However, it comes at the price of a lack of transparency and full understanding as to a bank’s true capital position. I recall writing in my very first piece on October 14th:  

if the government accedes to the pressure being applied to suspend the mark to market accounting principle, I would expect that move would only prolong the underperformance of the economy . . . I view a suspension of the mark to market as the equivalent of an agreement to officially allow one to “cook their books”

I hold the same opinion today.  We will see a lot more on this topic over the next few weeks as FASB Pledges Mark-to-Market Guidance Soon.


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