Crisis financiera

02.10.2008 @ 12:17 \12\Thu, 02 Oct 2008 12:17:16 +0000\16 +0000 UTC

Les recomiendo a todos que lean este artículo del NYTimes.

Narran con detalle (nombrando a personajes como los CEOs de Sachman, Morgan Stanley, UBS entre otros) cómo se fueron dando los acontecimientos que llevaron a la actual crisis financiera. Está en verdad muy interesante sobretodo porque uno se puede dar cuenta de que muchas de las acciones que se llevaron a cabo fueron motivadas por pánico lo que sucitó un reaccionismo al más puro estilo de los gringos.

Un pequenio extracto:

“Panic can cause a prudent person to do rational things that can contribute to the failure of an institution.” — William A. Ackman of the hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management.

It was early on Wednesday, Sept. 17, when executives at Pershing Square, Bill Ackman’s hedge fund, began getting nervous calls and e-mail messages from investors. Mr. Ackman, 42, has been a top Wall Street player for 15 years, making his clients — and himself — billions of dollars.

Panic was spreading on two of the scariest days ever in financial markets, and the biggest investors — not small investors — were panicking the most. Nobody was sure how much damage it would cause before it ended.

The credit crisis has played out in places most people can’t see. It’s banks refusing to lend to other banks — even though that is one of the most essential functions of the banking system. It’s a loss of confidence in seemingly healthy institutions like Morgan Stanley and Goldman — both of which reported profits even as the pressure was mounting. It is panicked hedge funds pulling out cash. It is frightened investors protecting themselves by buying credit-default swaps — a financial insurance policy against potential bankruptcy — at prices 30 times what they normally would pay.

Este párrafo lo dice todo:

In a hastily convened meeting in the conference room of the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, the two men presented, in the starkest terms imaginable, the outline of the $700 billion plan to Congressional leaders. “If we don’t do this,” Mr. Bernanke said, according to several participants, “we may not have an economy on Monday.”

Y la reacción en cadena motivada por pánico:

But contagion was already spreading. The problem posed by the Lehman bankruptcy was not the losses suffered by hedge funds and other investors who traded stocks or bonds with the firms. As federal officials had predicted, that turned out to be manageable. (That was one reason the government did not step in to save the firm.)

The real problem was that a handful of hedge funds that used the firm’s London office to handle their trades had billions of dollars in balances frozen in the bankruptcy.

Diamondback Capital Management, for instance, a $3 billion hedge fund, told its investors that 14.9 percent of its assets were locked up in the Lehman bankruptcy — money it could not extract.

As this news spread, every other hedge fund manager had to worry about whether the balances they had at other Wall Street firms might suffer a similar fate. And Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs were the two biggest firms left that served this back-office role. That is why Mr. Ackman’s investors were calling him. And that is what caused hedge funds to pull money out of Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, hedge their exposure by buying credit-default swaps that would cover losses if either firm couldn’t pay money they owed — or do both.

It was fear, not greed, that was driving everyone’s actions.

Y como a Morgan Stanley la tuvo cerca. Incluso su CEO, John J. Mack, se vio en la necesidad de pedir a la SEC que prohibieran el short-selling, actividad financiera usada por Morgan Stanley a pesar de quejas de otras companías acerca de que grupos de short-sellers se ponían de acuerdo injustamente para “tumbar” acciones. También dicen que Mr. Mack pidió consejo a Master Jedi Yoda, perdón Buffett:

Neither did Morgan Stanley’s chief executive, John J. Mack. A week before, his firm’s stock was trading in the mid-40s. On Wednesday, it fell from $28.70 a share to $21.75 — down about 50 percent over a week.

“There is no rational basis for the movements in our stock or credit default spreads,” Mr. Mack wrote in a companywide memo on Wednesday. Mr. Mack lashed out at the people he felt were responsible for Morgan Stanley’s woes: the short-sellers, who profit by betting that a stock will fall.

Like most Wall Street firms, Morgan Stanley over the years had handled transactions for short-sellers, despite complaints by other companies that short-sellers unfairly ganged up on their stock. Nevertheless, Mr. Mack called Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, and Christopher Cox, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, pressing them to ban short-selling.

At the same time, Mr. Mack began talks to merge with Wachovia, and called other banks about possible combinations. He also called Mr. Buffett for advice, while aides in Tokyo contacted Mitsubishi UFJ, Japan’s biggest lender, hoping to raise additional capital.

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