April 19, 2010

ABACUS 2007-AC1: The whole truth and nothing but the truth!

Sir I refer to the extensive report by Patrick Jenkins and Francesco Guerrera, “Goldsman versus the regulator” April 19. Yes Goldman Sachs might have behaved unethically and even illegally but the whole truth and nothing but the truth would in this case have to include the following facts, no matter how politically or agenda inconvenient they might be.

IKB the German bank bought the two tranches of ABACUS 2007-AC1 almost exclusively because of the following two reasons:

First both tranches, the A1 paying Libor plus 85 basis points, and the A-2 paying Libor plus 110 basis, points were rated Aaa by Moody’s and AAA by S&P when purchased by IKB.

Second, in order to invest $150 million in these securities, which because of their ratings were risk-weighted by Basel II at only 20%, IKB needed only to have $2.4 million of capital, 1.6%, when compared to the $12 million it would be required to have if lending that amount to unrated small and medium sized German companies.

If IKB had known that Paulson had had his hand in the picking and known fully about his motives then they might have asked for a slightly higher interest rate, perhaps 10 basis points, and still bought the securities.

If the securities did not have the splendid credit ratings assigned to them by the credit rating agencies then they would probably not have bought them even if Mother Teresa had done the picking.

If the regulators had placed the same type of capital requirements on all assets then IKB would have stayed home, probably lending to their traditional clients, instead of going to California to dig prime rated subprime gold.

And so while naturally we should lend all our support to efforts to eliminate wrong-doings like those described in the action by the SEC against Goldman Sachs that should not signify we take our eyes of the unfortunate truth of the world having been saddled with grossly inept regulators who created grossly bad regulations.