Saturday, 24 September 2011 11:53

So, When Does 3+5=4? When You Aggregate A Bunch Of Risky Banks & Then Pretend That You Didn't? Featured

ZeroHedge dutifully reports: Five Banks Account For 96% Of The $250 Trillion In Outstanding US Derivative Exposure; Is Morgan Stanley Sitting On An FX Derivative Time Bomb?

The latest quarterly report from the Office Of the Currency Comptroller is out and as usual it presents in a crisp, clear and very much glaring format the fact that the top 4 banks in the US now account for a massively disproportionate amount of the derivative risk in the financial system. Specifically, of the $250 trillion in gross notional amount of derivative contracts outstanding (consisting of Interest Rate, FX, Equity Contracts, Commodity and CDS) among the Top 25 commercial banks (a number that swells to $333 trillion when looking at the Top 25 Bank Holding Companies), a mere 5 banks (and really 4) account for 95.9% of all derivative exposure (HSBC replaced Wells as the Top 5th bank, which at $3.9 trillion in derivative exposure is a distant place from #4 Goldman with $47.7 trillion). The top 4 banks: JPM with $78.1 trillion in exposure, Citi with $56 trillion, Bank of America with $53 trillion and Goldman with $48 trillion, account for 94.4% of total exposure. As historically has been the case, the bulk of consolidated exposure is in Interest Rate swaps ($204.6 trillion), followed by FX ($26.5TR), CDS ($15.2 trillion), and Equity and Commodity with $1.6 and $1.4 trillion, respectively. And that's your definition of Too Big To Fail right there: the biggest banks are not only getting bigger, but their risk exposure is now at a new all time high and up $5.3 trillion from Q1 as they have to risk ever more in the derivatives market to generate that incremental penny of return.

At this point the economist PhD readers will scream: "this is total BS - after all you have bilateral netting which eliminates net bank exposure almost entirely." True: that is precisely what the OCC will say too. As the chart below shows, according to the chief regulator of the derivative space in Q2 netting benefits amounted to an almost record 90.8% of gross exposure, so while seemingly massive, those XXX trillion numbers are really quite, quite small... Right?

...Wrong. The problem with bilateral netting is that it is based on one massively flawed assumption, namely that in an orderly collapse all derivative contracts will be honored by the issuing bank (in this case the company that has sold the protection, and which the buyer of protection hopes will offset the protection it in turn has sold). The best example of how the flaw behind bilateral netting almost destroyed the system is AIG: the insurance company was hours away from making trillions of derivative contracts worthless if it were to implode, leaving all those who had bought protection from the firm worthless, a contingency only Goldman hedged by buying protection on AIG. And while the argument can further be extended that in bankruptcy a perfectly netted bankrupt entity would make someone else who on claims they have written, this is not true, as the bankrupt estate will pursue 100 cent recovery on its claims even under Chapter 11, while claims the estate had written end up as General Unsecured Claims which as Lehman has demonstrated will collect 20 cents on the dollar if they are lucky.

The point of this detour being that if any of these four banks fails, the repercussions would be disastrous. And no, Frank Dodd's bank "resolution" provision would do absolutely nothing to prevent an epic systemic collapse. 

...

Lastly, and tangentially on a topic that recently has gotten much prominent attention in the media, we present the exposure by product for the biggest commercial banks. Of particular note is that while virtually every single bank has a preponderance of its derivative exposure in the form of plain vanilla IR swaps (on average accounting for more than 80% of total), Morgan Stanley, and specifically its Utah-based commercial bank Morgan Stanley Bank NA, has almost exclusively all of its exposure tied in with the far riskier FX contracts, or 98.3% of the total $1.793 trillion. For a bank with no deposit buffer, and which has massive exposure to European banks regardless of how hard management and various other banks scramble to defend Morgan Stanley, the fact that it has such an abnormal amount of exposure (but, but, it is "bilaterally netted" we can just hear Dick Bove screaming on Monday) to the ridiculously volatile FX space should perhaps raise some further eyebrows...

 Let Me Post This Paragraph ONE MORE TIME!

...Wrong. The problem with bilateral netting is that it is based on one massively flawed assumption, namely that in an orderly collapse all derivative contracts will be honored by the issuing bank (in this case the company that has sold the protection, and which the buyer of protection hopes will offset the protection it in turn has sold). The best example of how the flaw behind bilateral netting almost destroyed the system is AIG: the insurance company was hours away from making trillions of derivative contracts worthless if it were to implode, leaving all those who had bought protection from the firm worthless, a contingency only Goldman hedged by buying protection on AIG. And while the argument can further be extended that in bankruptcy a perfectly netted bankrupt entity would make someone else who on claims they have written, this is not true, as the bankrupt estate will pursue 100 cent recovery on its claims even under Chapter 11, while claims the estate had written end up as General Unsecured Claims which as Lehman has demonstrated will collect 20 cents on the dollar if they are lucky.

The point of this detour being that if any of these four banks fails, the repercussions would be disastrous. And no, Frank Dodd's bank "resolution" provision would do absolutely nothing to prevent an epic systemic collapse.

Super, Duper, B-I-N-G-0!!! It is so relieving to hear someone else espouse what really should be common damn sense, yet happens to be one of the uncommon commodities to be found on the Isle of Manhattan.

Reggie Middleton on CNBC's Squawk on the Street - 10/19/2010

Mr. Middleton discusses JP Morgan and concentrated bank risk.

Hey, there ain't no concentration risk in US banks, and any blogger with two synapses to spark together should know this...

An Independent Look into JP Morgan.

Click graph to enlarge

 image001.pngimage001.pngimage001.png

Cute graphic above, eh? There is plenty of this in the public preview. When considering the staggering level of derivatives employed by JPM, it is frightening to even consider the fact that the quality of JPM's derivative exposure is even worse than Bear Stearns and Lehman‘s derivative portfolio just prior to their fall. Total net derivative exposure rated below BBB and below for JP Morgan currently stands at 35.4% while the same stood at 17.0% for Bear Stearns (February 2008) and 9.2% for Lehman (May 2008). We all know what happened to Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, don't we??? I warned all about Bear Stearns (Is this the Breaking of the Bear?: On Sunday, 27 January 2008) and Lehman ("Is Lehman really a lemming in disguise?": On February 20th, 2008) months before their collapse by taking a close, unbiased look at their balance sheet. Both of these companies were rated investment grade at the time, just like "you know who". Now, I am not saying JPM is about to collapse, since it is one of the anointed ones chosen by the government and guaranteed not to fail - unlike Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, and it is (after all) investment grade rated. Who would you put your faith in, the big ratings agencies or your favorite blogger? Then again, if it acts like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, is it a chicken??? I'll leave the rest up for my readers to decide.

This public preview is the culmination of several investigative posts that I have made that have led me to look more closely into the big money center banks. It all started with a hunch that JPM wasn't marking their WaMu portfolio acquisition accurately to market prices (see Is JP Morgan Taking Realistic Marks on its WaMu Portfolio Purchase? Doubtful! ), which would very well have rendered them insolvent - particularly if that was the practice for the balance of their portfolio as well (see Re: JP Morgan, when I say insolvent, I really mean insolvent). I then posted the following series, which eventually led to me finally breaking down and performing a full forensic analysis of JP Morgan, instead of piece-mealing it with anecdotal analysis.

  1. The Fed Believes Secrecy is in Our Best Interests. Here are Some of the Secrets
  2. Why Doesn't the Media Take a Truly Independent, Unbiased Look at the Big Banks in the US?
  3. As the markets climb on top of one big, incestuous pool of concentrated risk...
  4. Any objective review shows that the big banks are simply too big for the safety of this country
  5. Why hasn't anybody questioned those rosy stress test results now that the facts have played out?

You can download the public preview here. If you find it to be of interest or insightful, feel free to distribute it (intact) as you wish.

JPM Public Excerpt of Forensic Analysis Subscription JPM Public Excerpt of Forensic Analysis Subscription 2009-09-18 00:56:22 488.64 Kb

 

Oh yeah, and while we're at it, this Morgan Stanley thing has been a concern of mine for well over a year now. The interest rate storm is coming, that is unless Europe can maintain historically low rates as several countries default. Then again, they never default, right...

Don't belive me, let's look at history...

image022

image021_copy

image034

So, as I was saying...

Check this out, from "On Morgan Stanley's Latest Quarterly Earnings - More Than Meets the Eye???" Monday, 24 May 2010:

Those who don't subscribe should reference my warnings of the concentration and reliance on FICC revenues (foreign exchange, currencies, and fixed income trading).  Morgan Stanley's exposure to this as well as what I have illustrated in full detail via the  the Pan-European Sovereign Debt Crisis series, has increased materially. As excerpted from "The Next Step in the Bank Implosion Cycle???":

The amount of bubbliciousness, overvaluation and risk in the market is outrageous, particularly considering the fact that we haven't even come close to deflating the bubble from earlier this year and last year! Even more alarming is some of the largest banks in the world, and some of the most respected (and disrespected) banks are heavily leveraged into this trade one way or the other. The alleged swap hedges that these guys allegedly have will be put to the test, and put to the test relatively soon. As I have alleged in previous posts (As the markets climb on top of one big, incestuous pool of concentrated risk... ), you cannot truly hedge multi-billion risks in a closed circle of only 4 counterparties, all of whom are in the same businesses taking the same risks.

Click to expand!

bank_ficc_derivative_trading.png

So, How are Banks Entangled in the Mother of All Carry Trades?

Trading revenues for U.S Commercial banks have witnessed robust growth since 4Q08 on back of higher (although of late declining) bid-ask spreads and fewer write-downs on investment portfolios. According to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, commercial banks' reported trading revenues rose to a record $5.2 bn in 2Q09, which is extreme (to say the least) compared to $1.6 bn in 2Q08 and average of $802 mn in past 8 quarters.

bank_trading_revenue.png

High dependency on Forex and interest rate contracts

Continued growth in trading revenues on back of growth in overall derivative contracts, (especially for interest rate and foreign exchange contracts) has raised doubt on the sustainability of revenues over hear at the BoomBustBlog analyst lab. According to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, notional amount of derivatives contracts of U.S Commercial banks grew at a CAGR of 20.5% to $203 trillion by 2Q-09 from $87.9 trillion in 2004 with interest rate contracts and foreign exchange contracts comprising a substantial 84.5% and 7.5% of total notional value of derivatives, respectively. Interest rate contracts have grown at a CAGR of 20.1% to $171.9 trillion between 4Q-04 to 2Q-09 while Forex contracts have grown at a CAGR of 13.4% to $15.2 trillion between 4Q-04 to 2Q-09.

In terms of absolute dollar exposure, JP Morgan has the largest exposure towards both Interest rate and Forex contracts with notional value of interest rate contracts at $64.6 trillion and Forex contracts at $6.2 trillion exposing itself to volatile changes in both interest rates and currency movements (non-subscribers should reference An Independent Look into JP Morgan, while subscribers should referenceFile Icon JPM Report (Subscription-only) Final - Professional, and File Icon JPM Forensic Report (Subscription-only) Final- Retail). However, Goldman Sachs with interest rate contracts to total assets at 318.x and Forex contracts to total assets at 11.2x has the largest relative exposure (see Goldman Sachs Q2 2009 Pre-announcement opinion Goldman Sachs Q2 2009 Pre-announcement opinion 2009-07-13 00:08:57 920.92 KbGoldman Sachs Stress Test Professional Goldman Sachs Stress Test Professional 2009-04-20 10:06:45 4.04 Mb, Goldman Sachs Stress Test Retail Goldman Sachs Stress Test Retail 2009-04-20 10:08:06 720.25 Kb,). As subscribers can see from the afore-linked analysis, Goldman is trading at an extreme premium from a risk adjusted book value perspective.

bank_forex_exposure.png

As a result of a surge in interest rate and Forex contracts, dependency on revenues from these products has increased substantially and has in turn been a source of considerable volatility to total revenues. As of 2Q-09 combined trading revenues (cash and off balance sheet exposure) from Interest rate and Forex for JP Morgan stood at $2.4 trillion, or 9.5% of the total revenues while the same for GS and BAC (subscribers, see BAC Swap exposure_011009 BAC Swap exposure_011009 2009-10-15 01:02:21 279.76 Kb) stood at $(196) million and $433 million, respectively. As can be seen, Goldman's trading teams are not nearly as infallible as urban myth makes them out to be.

bank_ficc_trading_revenue.png

Although JP Morgan's exposure to interest rate contracts has declined to $64.5 trillion as of 2Q09 from $75.2 trillion as of 3Q07, trading revenues from Interest rate contracts (cash and off balance sheet position) have witnessed a significant volatility spike and have increased marginally to $1,512 in 2Q09 compared with $1,496 in 3Q07. Although JPM's Forex exposure has decreased from its peak of $8.2 trillion in 3Q08, at $3.2 trillion in 2Q09 the exposure is still is higher than 3Q07 levels. Even for Bank of America and Citi , the revenues from Interest rate and forex products have been volatile despite a moderate reduction in overall exposure. With top 5 banks having about 97% market share of the total banking industry notional amounts as of June 30, 2009, the revenues from trading activities for these banks are practically guaranteed to be highly volatile in the event of significant market disruption - a disruption aptly described by the esteemed Professor Roubini as a rush to the exit in the "Mother of All Carry Trades" as the largest macro experiment in the history of this country starts to unwind, or even if the participants in this carry trade think it is about to start to unwind.

The table below shows the trend in trading revenues from Interest rate and Forex positions for top banks in U.S.

Click to enlarge...

bank_ficc_exposure.png

Banks exposure to interest rate and foreign exchange contracts

With volatility in currency markets exploding to astounding levels (with average EUR-USD volatility of 16.5% over the past year (September 2008-09) compared to 8.9%  over the previous year), commercial and investment banks trading revenues are expected to remain highly unpredictable. This, coupled with huge Forex and Interest rate derivative exposure for major commercial banks, could trigger a wave of losses in the event of significant market disruptions - or a race to the exit door of this speculative carry trade. Additionally most of these Forex and Interest rate contracts are over-the-contract (OTC) contracts with 96.2% of total derivative contracts being traded as OTC. This means no central clearing, no standardization in contracts, the potential for extreme opacity in pricing, diversity in valuation as well as a dearth of liquidity when it is most needed - at the time when everyone is looking to exit. Goldman Sachs has the largest OTC traded contracts with 98.5% of its derivative contracts traded over the counter. With the 5 largest banks representing 97% of the total banking industry notional amount of derivatives and most of these contracts being traded off exchange, the effectiveness of derivatives as a hedging instrument raises serious questions since most of these banks are counterparty to one another in one very small, very tight circle (see the free article, "As the markets climb on top of one big, incestuous pool of concentrated risk... ").

bank_ficc_otc_exposure_and_currency_volatility.png

The table below compares interest rate contracts and foreign exchange contracts for JPM, GS, Citi, BAC and WFC.

JP Morgan has the largest exposure in terms of notional value with $64,604 trillion of notional value of interest rate contracts and $6,977 trillion of notional value of foreign exchange contracts. In terms of actual risk exposure measured by gross derivative exposure before netting of counterparties, JP Morgan with $1,798 bn of gross derivative receivable, or 21.7x of tangible equity, has the largest gross derivative risk exposure followed by Bank of America ($1,760 bn, or 18.1x). Bank of America with $1,393 bn of gross derivatives relating to interest rate has the highest exposure towards interest rate sensitivity while JP Morgan with $154 bn of Foreign exchange contracts has the highest exposure from currency volatility. We have explored this in forensic detail for subscribers, and have offered a free preview for visitors to the blog: (JPM Public Excerpt of Forensic Analysis SubscriptionJPM Public Excerpt of Forensic Analysis Subscription 2009-09-18 00:56:22 488.64 Kb), which is free to download, and File Icon JPM Report (Subscription-only) Final - Professional, orFile Icon JPM Forensic Report (Subscription-only) Final- Retail as well as a free blog article on BAC off balance sheet exposure If a Bubble Bubble Bursts Off Balance Sheet, Will Anyone Be There to Hear It?: Pt 3 - BAC).

bank_ficc_otc_exposure_jpm.png

bank_ficc_otc_exposure_bac_and_gs.png

Subscribers, see WFC Research Note Sep 2009 WFC Research Note Sep 2009 2009-09-30 13:01:30 281.29 Kb, ~ WFC Off Balance Sheet Exposure WFC Off Balance Sheet Exposure 2009-10-19 04:25:53 258.77 Kb ~ WFC Investment Note 22 May 09 - Retail WFC Investment Note 22 May 09 - Retail 2009-05-27 01:55:50 554.15 Kb ~ WFC Investment Note 22 May 09 - Pro WFC Investment Note 22 May 09 - Pro 2009-05-27 01:56:54 853.53 Kb ~ Wells Fargo ABS Inventory Wells Fargo ABS Inventory 2008-08-30 06:40:27 798.22 Kb to expound on our opinions of Wells Fargo, below.

bank_ficc_otc_exposure_wfc_and_c.png

bank_ficc_otc_exposure_ms.png

Subscribers, see MS Simulated Government Stress Test MS Simulated Government Stress Test 2009-05-05 11:36:25 2.49 Mb and MS Stess Test Model Assumptions and Stress Test Valuation MS Stess Test Model Assumptions and Stress Test Valuation 2009-04-22 07:55:17 339.99 Kb

www.boombustblog.com | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

68 comments

Login to post comments