Best of the Week
Most Popular
1.BrExit House Prices Crash, Flat or Rally? UK Housing Market Affordability Crisis - Nadeem_Walayat
2.Stocks Bull Market Climbs Wall of Worry, Bubble? When Will it End? - Nadeem_Walayat
3.Gold Price Is Now On Its Way To All-Time Highs - Hubert_Moolman
4.Deutche Bank Stock Price Crash - The EU Has Problems Far Beyond the Brexit - Harry_Dent
5.UK interest Rate PANIC CUT! As Banks Prepare to Steal Customer Deposits - Nadeem_Walayat
6.Gold and Silver Bull Phase 1 : Final Impulse Dead Ahead - Plunger
7.Central Bankers Fighting An Unprecedented Global Economic Slowdown - Gordon_T_Long
8.Putin Hacking Hillary for Trump, Russia's Manchurian Candidate? - Nadeem_Walayat
9.Stock Market Insiders Are Secretly Selling, Cycle Top Next Month - Chris_Vermeulen
10.Gold Sector - Is it time to Back up the Truck? – Mortgage the Farm? - Peter_Degraaf
Free Silver
Last 7 days
A Zombie Financial System, Black Swans and a Gold Share Correction - 25th Aug 16
OPEC’s Output Freeze: What Has Changed Since Doha? - 25th Aug 16
Merkel Prepares For a Deliberate Crisis While White House Plans For a Disastrous Succession - 24th Aug 16
Suspicious Reversal in Gold Price - 23rd Aug 16
If Trump Can’t Pull Off a Victory, Expect a Civil War - 23rd Aug 16
Ceding ICANN and Internet Control to Globalists - 23rd Aug 16
How to Spot an Oversold Stock Market - 23rd Aug 16
Gerald Celente Sees Worst Market Crash, New Military Conflict, Gold Spike to $2,000/oz - 23rd Aug 16
EU Olympics Medals Table Propaganda Includes BrExit Britain - 22nd Aug 16
BrExit Win's Britain Olympics Success Freedom Dividend, Economy Next - 22nd Aug 16
Stock Market Top Forming, but Slowly - 22nd Aug 16
(Really) Alternative Banking Systems - 22nd Aug 16
Vauxhall Zafira Fires - Second Recall Issued - Inspection Before Bursting into Flames? - 21st Aug 16
Will the Stock Market Bubble Pop Regardless if the FED Never Raises Rates? - 21st Aug 16
US Government Spending - 3 Big Stories Not Being Covered – Part III - 21st Aug 16
Silver Analysis - 20th Aug 16
SPX New Highs, Correction Next? - 20th Aug 16
Housing Bubble - The Marginal Buyer Holds The Pin That Pops Every Asset Bubble - 20th Aug 16
Gold Miners Q2 2016 Fundamentals - 19th Aug 16
Which Price Ratio Matters Most in a Fiat Ponzi? - 19th Aug 16
Big Policies, Bigger Failures - 19th Aug 16
Higher Crude Oil’s Prices and USD/CAD - 19th Aug 16
Here’s Why You Should Look for Dividend Stocks and How - 19th Aug 16
Deglobalization Already Underway — 4 Technologies That Will Speed It Up - 19th Aug 16
These 6 Charts Show Why the Average American Is Fed Up - 18th Aug 16
SPX Easing Lower - 18th Aug 16
Low / Negative Interst Rate’s Legacy - 18th Aug 16
The 45th Anniversary of The Most Destructive Event In Modern Monetary History - 18th Aug 16
USDU - An Important Perspective on the US Dollar - 17th Aug 16
SPX Completes Wave 1 Decline - 17th Aug 16
How to Quickly Spot Common Fibonacci Ratios on a Chart - 17th Aug 16
When Does a Forecast Become a Trade? - 17th Aug 16
Kondratiev Wave - The Financial Winter Is Nearing! - 17th Aug 16
Learn "The 4 Best Elliott Waves to Trade -- and How to Trade Them" - 16th Aug 16
Stock Market Bears Turning Bullish At New All Time Highs - Time to Get Worried? - 15th Aug 16
Job Seekers Sacrificed to the Inflation Gods - 15th Aug 16
A Look At Commodities and Financial Markets Trading Week Ahead - 15th Aug 16
Stock Market New Top Forming? - 15th Aug 16

Free Instant Analysis

Free Instant Technical Analysis


Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

How to Trade Elliott Waves

Derivatives the Greatest Scam in the History of the World

Politics / Credit Crisis 2009 Jul 06, 2009 - 12:49 AM GMT

By: LewRockwell

Politics

Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleChris Clancy writes: This essay is a story about insurance, or rather, a story about a type of insurance policy which underwent a mutation. This mutation was not spontaneous – it was engineered. It was one of the biggest scams ever perpetrated.


Paradoxically, the problem was that it worked too well and just got too big.

I hope you stay with the story until its denouement. Maybe you’ll be gobsmacked. If it moves you to go out and start looking for suitable lamposts – then it’s understandable.

When a business makes a loan to another party it can insure against the risk of default. This would be prudent behaviour if the lender had concerns about the borrower not repaying everything which was due.

Insurance companies, like all industries, work to a set of fundamental principles. Two of their most fundamental principles are indemnity and insurable interest.

Indemnity simply means that no-one should "profit" from making an insurance claim. Instead, the money received should be enough to restore you financially to the position you were in before the reason for making the claim occurred.

Insurable interest means that you cannot insure something unless you have a legitimate interest in protecting yourself against something bad happening to that thing. So, for example, you can insure your car or the life of your spouse. You cannot, however, insure the car or the spouse of a complete stranger since your only incentive would be the hope that something bad happens to either or both. In fact, you would have a very strong motive for making sure that something bad actually does happen to either or both!

What has the above got to do with the present mess?

Everything unfortunately.

Understanding the gravity of the situation we are now in means getting to grips with the dreaded "D" word – and I don’t mean "Depression" – I mean "DERIVATIVES"! Few understand them. The following quote refers to Gordon Brown:

"He … made the extraordinary confession that as Chancellor he 'didn't know a lot about' sub-prime mortgages – a key banking practice that sparked the economic collapse."

Mention of the ‘D’ word is usually enough to turn most people off instantly – therefore in what follows I have attempted to keep it as brief and clear as I can and to avoid mentioning this heinous word. Instead I’ll refer to them as Gherkins, Sprouts and Bananas.

The current crisis was started by cheap money being kept cheap for too long. It found its way into the housing market where things escalated as a result of government encouragement for lenders to make bad loans. The lenders who made the bad loans didn’t care since they could sell them on to someone else.

The buyers of these loans didn’t care either since they knew the government would bail them out if they got into trouble. These loans were then securitised; in other words, they were divided up into securities (financial instruments) called "Gherkins" and then sold on to the financial industry.

The financial industry then employed very clever people to mix these securities up in all sorts of permutations and combinations. By the time they had finished splicing and dicing, mixing and matching a new generation of financial instrument had emerged – these were called "Sprouts."

Why did they do this?

It was done to hide the fact that many of these securities were based on bad loans. As such they could only attract a "junk" credit rating which made them more difficult to sell on. By combining them with good loans in incredibly complicated mathematical models, using all sorts of weird and wonderful statistical techniques, this new generation of financial instruments could all attract a triple-A credit rating. Obviously this made these things highly marketable.

Sprouts were sold in vast quantities all over the world. The buyers simply looked at the credit rating. They didn’t know how these things were constructed. They didn’t realize that the models were flawed – Austrian economics tells us again and again that predictions involving human action cannot be reduced to mathematical formulae. (If you’re into self-abuse and really want to put yourself through it go here for a simplified example of how to create a Sprout – and more).

Let’s return to the world of insurance.

Organizations which had purchased Sprouts in huge quantities wanted to reduce their risk. Companies like AIG, for example, offered them insurance policies. In return for regular monthly premiums they could insure against their Sprouts going bad. This was quite legitimate since they had an insurable interest – they owned what they were insuring – and would be rightly indemnified in the event of default.

What happened next was that the insurance policies themselves were then securitised and another generation of financial instruments emerged called "Bananas."

These things have been loosely described as "insurance policies." Nothing could be further from the truth! These things had nothing whatever to do with indemnity and insurable interest. The buyers of Bananas were given the mysterious title of "counterparties." Nobody actually knows who they are.

What was their incentive in purchasing Bananas?

Put simply, Bananas were a bet in which the die was loaded in favour of the gambler, or counterparty. They were betting on the failure of bad loans which were purchased and then re-packaged into Sprouts and then sold on! For those in on the scam there was simply no reason to buy Bananas unless they were confident that the sub-prime market would collapse – which it did. They then claimed on their "insurance" policies.

No. Don’t reach for the bottle just yet. You’ll need a clear head for what comes next. Because it actually gets worse.

Just to recap. The housing food chain spawned three types of financial life form – Gherkins (Mortgage Backed Securities), Sprouts (Collateralised Debt Obligations) and Bananas (Credit Default Swaps).

In this must-read article by James Lieber (which I hope you pass on to as many people as possible) he argues that it was Bananas which turned what should have been a recession into a depression – that the failure of the sub-prime market and its concomitant Gherkins and Sprouts by themselves would not have landed us where we are now.

Why?

Because the amount of money which is still out there waiting to be claimed on Bananas is mind-boggling!

How did it become so large?

The answer is the word "replication." One Sprout could be "insured" time and time again. This is why the thing became so large.

Lieber, writing in Jan. 2009, estimated that the Banana liability was in the region of $600 trillion. In fact, Ellen Brown, writing in Sep. 2008, put total trade in Gherkins, Sprouts and Bananas in excess of $1,000 trillion. The latter is called a quadzillion. If so then we’ve made it – not billions or trillions any more – now we’re into quadzillions!

And just where has all this bailout money paid to financial institutions gone? There’s no way of telling because the Fed’s not saying. How much has gone straight into the pockets of the counterparties, whoever or whatever they are?

I pray HR 1207 makes it all the way. Maybe it will yield up the truth about what has been going on – the fact that it didn’t just happen – it was quite deliberate. And let’s be clear, as Lieber points out in his article, it simply could not have been done without collusion between major players.

Is there a way out of this nightmare? Well, call me an optimist, but there must be. If people can devise a system whereby a tiny elite run the world on money created out of thin air, and get away with it, then surely we have the wit to devise a method of neutralising or cancelling these things – of evaporating them into thin air!

Then go after the counterparties who have already received money and prize every stinking penny from their filthy money-grubbing fingers.

This is no conspiracy theory – it’s fact. See here and here for two articles recently published on LRC – laugh or cry, it’s up to you – but we’ve all been conned, scammed, stiffed or any other word you can think of – yet again.

The greatest scam in history has littered the world with banana skins. There’s a lot more slipping and sliding to go before we emerge from this one – if we ever do – and in one piece at that!

Chris Clancy [send him mail] is Associate Professor of Financial Accounting at Zhongnan University of Economics and Law in Wuhan, Hubei Province, People's Republic of China.

    http://www.lewrockwell.com

    © 2009 Copyright Chris Clancy / LewRockwell.com - All Rights Reserved
    Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.


© 2005-2016 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

Catching a Falling Financial Knife