This week on FT Alphaville,
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Another head on the wall for government prosecutors. Maybe one of the biggest so far in the annals of insider trading convictions.
The jury took little time in returning with convictions on four charges related to securities fraud (including one conspiracy count). Read more
We must return to Cyprus Popular Bank, the bank that’s essentially forcing Cyprus to seek a bailout – something that may well be announced some time this weekend. Most reports say that it’s problems are down to write-downs following the Greek restructuring. True, the value of Popular Bank’s investment in Greek sovereign debt was written down to €710m from €3.05bn. But there’s more to the story, which involves inter alia speculating monks, unusual lending practices and a man called Andreas Vgenopoulos.
Crucially, it suggests that concerns about the quality of the bank’s assets could be an important reason for why private sources cannot be found to fund the €2bn capital shortfall. Read more
How Charles Dumas of Lombard Street Research gets from this poor performance in Dutch retail sales recently…
In ‘The Formula That Killed Wall Street’? The Gaussian Copula and the Material Cultures of Modelling, Donald MacKenzie and Taylor Spears present a history of the development of the one-factor Gaussian copula model, which is used to price various structured products, including Collateralised Debt Obligations (CDOs). As the title of the paper suggests, the model has many critics and has had a lot of blame placed at its feet.
What this paper reveals that really stands out is that the quant community also didn’t, and doesn’t, rate the Gaussian copula model highly at all. In fact, we’re putting that very mildly if the statements from quants interviewed by the researchers are anything to go by. Read more
The full story of why JPMorgan entered into the trades that cost it so much money may never become public. However, thanks to Jamie Dimon’s testimony on Wednesday, we can conjecture a little more about the motivations behind the synthetic credit trades entered into by the bank’s Chief Investment Office.
The story begins with surplus deposits. JPMorgan was perceived as safe thanks to its size and relatively good record during the 2008 crisis, so it attracted significant deposit inflows. Much of this money was lent out, but not all of it was, giving rise to the problem of what to invest it in. With government bonds paying record low rates, the bank decided, understandably, to invest some of the funds in corporate and asset-backed securities. The CIO bought over $380bn of these bonds, a very substantial position. Read more
This is kinda sweet. From Fitch:
The Swiss National Bank’s (SNB) statement that UBS (‘A’/Stable/’a-’) and Credit Suisse Group (‘A’/Stable/’a’) should promptly improve their loss-absorbing capacity confirms that Switzerland maintains one of Europe’s strictest supervisory frameworks for banks, Fitch Ratings says. Read more
From Martin Lueck and team at UBS:
Who’s winning? Read more
Live markets commentary from FT.com
JBC Energy sums up the thrust of Thursday’s Opec meeting in one handy paragraph:
As expected, OPEC members decided to keep the current overall production ceiling of 30 million b/d unchanged during yesterday’s meeting. Lowering the ceiling was not an option as the group is currently producing at around 1.6 million b/d above the target. On the other hand, an increase would not have been accepted by the price hawks. Saudi Arabia was allegedly asked by other members to cut production and adhere to the overall ceiling. Due to the lower prices and the massive global stockbuild, we forecast that Saudi Arabia will decrease production in H2 to 9.5 million b/d, bringing the 2012 annual average down to 9.7 million b/d. Read more
Asian markets rose on optimism over global monetary intervention, Bloomberg reports. Central banks were preparing co-ordinated liquidity operations in the event of a credit shock after the weekend elections in Greece, says Reuters. The MSCI Asia Pacific index was on track for its biggest weekly gain since February, says Bloomberg, as investors also welcomed UK policy support announcement, and hopes for more Fed easing were raised.
Moody’s cuts Dutch bank ratings: ING, Rabobank, ABN Amro and LeasePlan were all cut two notches, while another large Dutch bank, SNS Bank, was cut one notch. The cuts were made on concerns that the recession, regional debt crisis and dependence on wholesale funds makes them vulnerable, reports Bloomberg. (Statement) Read more