Feb 16, 2008

Something else to worry about

Gretchen Morgenson, who did some of the first and best reporting on the subprime mortgage meltdown, opens a window onto a multi-trillion dollar credit insurance market that I'm sure you've never heard of, and warns the market could be the next domino in the ongoing credit crisis.

"The market for these securities is enormous. Since 2000, it has ballooned from $900 billion to more than $45.5 trillion — roughly twice the size of the entire United States stock market," she writes.

The very idea that such a huge chunk of our economy rides on this invisible cushion, this "arcane financial instrument," is simply astonishing.

However, there's nothing to worry about as long as the contracts have been properly managed. Given that the largest customers in the market are JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Citigroup - three of the biggest players in subprime lending - I feel no fear.

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