The Phaserl


Will Puerto Rico Cause An Inadvertent “Black Swan” Derivatives Melt-Down?

by Dave Kranzler, Investment Research Dynamics:

I really had not been paying much attention to the Puerto Rico debt situation. After all, $72 billion in debt that might go bad – big deal. The Fed can print up $72 billion in credit lines with the push of a button.

But a friend of mine happened to mention to me today (Monday) that MBIA’s stock was down over 23% and Assured Guaranty’s stock was down over 13%. That woke me up.

MBI guarantees $4.5 billion in par amount of Puerto Rico muni paper. As of it’s latest 10-Q (March 31, 2015), MBI showed a book value of $3.9 billion. Puerto Rico alone could more than wipe out MBI’s net worth. But that’s only a portion of the story. The bigger part of the story is buried off-balance sheet in the footnotes in opaque financial structures called Variable Interest Entities (VIE’s). Remember those from 2008? I remember them vividly.

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