Sunday, October 21, 2007

Shocking... Not.

And so it begins.

Plus, Paul Krugman nets out the whole Super Conduit thing in words I can understand (weeding through Roubini's industry jargon exhausted me):
Right now the bleeding edge of the crisis in confidence involves worries that there may be large losses hidden inside so-called “structured investment vehicles” — basically hedge funds that borrow from the public and invest the proceeds in mortgage-backed securities. The new plan would create a “super-fund,” the Master Liquidity Enhancement Conduit, which would seek to restore confidence by, um, borrowing from the public and investing the proceeds in mortgage-backed securities.

The plan, in other words, looks like an attempt to solve the problem with smoke and mirrors.

That might work if there were no good reason for investors to be worried. But in this case, investors have very good reasons to worry: the bursting of the housing bubble means that someone, somewhere, has to accept several trillion dollars in losses. A significant part of these losses will fall on mortgage-backed securities. And given this reality, the “conduit” looks like a really bad idea.

I’d put it like this: Investors aren’t putting their money to work because they don’t know where the bad debts are. And when investors need clarity, the last thing you want to be doing is pumping out more smoke.

Mr. Greenspan’s take, expressed in an interview with the magazine Emerging Markets, seems broadly similar. “If you believe some form of artificial non-market force is propping up the market,” he said, “you don’t believe the market price has exhausted itself.”

Translated: this rescue scheme could be seen as an attempt to hide the bad debts everyone knows are out there, and as a result could delay any return of trust to the markets.

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