I hate to say “I told you so” but… I told you so. The holders of the credit default swaps (CDS) have more to gain from the failure of the borrower than from accepting payments.
Bloomberg is reporting a strategy at Citigroup, Inc. to do just that. In one example, they can buy up Six Flags bonds at 20.5 cents on the dollar, pay a small premium to get the CDS and then collect the full face value of the bonds when Six Flags files for bankruptcy – which the CDS holder can be sure happens.
Normally, before a company goes into bankruptcy, they would meet with the debt holders to try to re-negotiate their debt. Debt holders will usually do this because they have more to gain from the company remaining in operation than otherwise. Sometimes, the company may even get them to exchange their debt for equity, provided there is a good business model that has the potential for future earnings.
Now, as I’ve described repeatedly, the CDS holders have more to gain from the bankruptcy because they will get their entire investment paid back, with interest, not from the company that issued the debt but from another company that issued the CDS – some company like, for example, AIG!
Speaking of AIG, there was very little coverage of the Senate Committee hearing Thursday (3/5/2009): “American International Group: Examining what went wrong, government intervention, and implications for future regulation.” It was a stunner! Bottom line? Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY) told the panelists that if they asked for another dime for AIG, “You will get the biggest ‘no’” ever heard. The entire committee was incredulous that Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Donald Kohn point-blank refused to tell them 1) who is benefiting from the AIG payouts on CDS and 2) how much more is it going to cost to bailout AIG.
Stand by, because home foreclosures are on the same course as Six Flags: homeowners attempting to re-negotiate their debt will find that somewhere in the background, a CDS holder has more to gain from the foreclosure because they will get their entire investment paid back, with interest, not from the homeowners but from some company that issue CDS – some company like, for example, AIG!