Monday, November 2, 2009

Analyst Calls for General Fraud Audit of Goldman Sachs Mortgage Securitizations

Do not mess with Janet Tavakoli.

Yesterday, I linked to an anonymous blogger/Goldman apologist who wrote that Tavakoli "has always been more bark than bite. Being provocative is part of her shtick."

Janet has since written a further analysis of the Goldman-AIG situation. She not only has bit, and pretty much tore the Goldman apologist's leg off, but she is glowering at Goldman so fiercely that if I were Goldman I really wouldn't move in her direction, and I would really keep my mouth shut and try to get the same out of Goldman apologists. Goldman should consider itself lucky that she is only arguing that:

....Goldman should not be exempt from the general fraud audit of mortgage securitizations that all of the former investment banks [Lehman, Bear Stearns, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, and some foreign banks doing business in the U.S. (DMB Pp. 97‐107.)] should undergo.
Here's Janet's most recent analysis of the Goldman-AIG situation:
Goldman Sachs: Reasonable Doubt
TSF Opinion Commentary - November 2, 2009
By Janet Tavakoli

In August 2007, I publicly challenged the fact that AIG took no write-downs whatsoever for its credit default swaps on underlying mortgage related “super senior” positions. I used the example of its aggregate $19.2 billion in credit default swaps on super senior positions backed by BBB-rated tranches of residential mortgage backed securities. I spoke with Warren Buffett, but only about what I had already told the Wall Street Journal (Dear Mr. Buffett Pp. 164-165, 246).

I met with Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, adding that the difference was material. JPMorgan Chase’s credit derivatives positions exceeded those of all other U.S. banks combined at the time. JPMorgan was not a participant in the problematic deals, and it was not a recipient of AIG’s settlement payments, but stability in the credit derivatives markets was an important issue. Dimon was dismissive of my concerns. In August of 2007, a potential implosion of AIG was too horrible to contemplate.

Unbeknownst to me, in July 2007, Goldman Sachs and AIG began a prolonged battle over prices and collateral payments for pre-2006 vintage deals on which Goldman had bought protection.

Fraud Audit
Was the risk that Goldman hedged with AIG as bad as Goldman Sachs Alternative Mortgage Products’ GSAMP Trust 2006-S3? Any risk manager worth their salt would have reasonable doubt about this deal and conduct a fraud audit. A fraud audit doesn’t mean you are accusing anyone of fraud, only that the audit will be thorough, because there are indications of grave problems. If there is fraud, however, the audit should be rigorous enough to uncover it.

If the aggregate $19.2 billion CDS position were derived from BBB rated tranches similar to one from GSAMP Trust 2006-3, the supposedly super safe “super senior” tranche would be worth zero. Every underlying BBB tranche would have permanent value destruction and zero value. AIG would owe a credit default swap payment for the full amount $19.2 billion. Since there is doubt about the collateral of every deal of this ilk, super senior tranches of mezzanine CDOs in the secondary market are currently valued at zero.

No wonder Goldman Sachs bought protection from AIG on mortgage backed deals—and then bought protection on AIG. Goldman may not have contributed to the aggregate $19.2 billion position, but this mezzanine super senior risk was visible to all of AIG’s counterparties.

Sophisticated counterparties like AIG are supposed to protect themselves, and have little chance for recovering damages. But now the American taxpayer has stepped in to make payments for AIG. U.S. taxpayers have a right to recover money paid out for derivatives on deals that include phony collateral.

Maiden Lane III now owns the underlying CDOs for AIG’s cancelled credit default swaps. One can now investigate them—and all of the underlying collateral.

The government’s 100% payout to AIG’s counterparties was a gift, and the negotiations were done in secret. The monoline insurers were in a similar situation with a variety of deals from a variety of counterparties. (Structured Finance Pp. 405-427) For example, in 2008, Citigroup Inc. accepted about 60 cents on the dollar from New York-based bond insurer Ambac Financial Group Inc. to retire protection on a $1.4 billion CDO. Ambac said the underlying “super senior” was worth about zero, and the protection payment would otherwise have been near the full $1.4 billion. Citigroup got a relatively huge payout, since other “high grade” deals have been settled for as low as ten cents on the dollar.

The irony is that Goldman Sachs may not have been involved in the worst of the deals, but its officers had unusually high profile in AIG’s damage control. Goldman’s deals with AIG may have all been completely proper, but deals like GSAMP Trust 2006-3 indicate that Goldman should not be exempt from the general fraud audit of mortgage securitizations that all of the former investment banks [Lehman, Bear Stearns, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, and some foreign banks going business in the U.S. (DMB Pp. 97-107.)] should undergo.

END OF EXCERPT – Click on here to continue reading (Pdf).

1 comment:

  1. Goldman would never pursue it, but her analysis is fatally flawed. They should sue her and own her stuff.

    If C settled for 60 cents, it's because they had a bad poker hand. Just because one poker hand is bad, does not mean another one is. We know GS's hand, and it was stout, and they knew it. We know the FRBNY's hand, and we know it stunk.