On 2nd October I wrote about the state of the American economy and the likely causes of the financial meltdown in America under my posting "American Get Screwed".
One of the reasons leading to the financial crisis was the use of financial derivatives. These are very complex financial instruments that not many investors understand the workings and risk involved.They are supposed to reduce risk but in the wrong hand,greed and overexposure could be disastrous.
There are wide range of derivative contracts traded on the financial markets based on different kind of assets and indexes.You can even have derivatives on the weather.How all these different instruments work you may have to visit the investment gurus on Wall Street(where it was invented) to explain to you.
Below is a paragraph of what I wrote on 2nd October:
"Much of the troubles started from highly innovative and risky financial derivatives, over-extended credit,over-speculation of trading in stocks and bad financial management.Some of the top CEOs in America are undeservedly overpaid with some having pay packages running into hundreds of million.Their over-indulgence in highly speculative financial derivatives were the cause of the meltdown"
Many of you would still remember Baring Bank and its rogue trader Nick Leeson who speculated in derivatives trading that brought the centuries- old bank to its demise.That's what derivatives can do to banks,corporations or anyone who are greedy,careless or have no understanding of the mechanics of these complex instruments.Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan was a great believer and supporter of these beastly business tools.
Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch were creators of credit derivatives.These derivatives are the sweethearts of investment banks and brokerage houses by selling them and making huge upfront fees and premium payments.Another victim,AIG jumped on the bandwagon and went overboard in derivatives involving the sub-prime market.
Below is an article on the subject that appeared in the New York Times yesterday, 8th Oct:
“Not only have individual financial institutions become less vulnerable to shocks from underlying risk factors, but also the financial system as a whole has become more resilient.” — Alan Greenspan in 2004
George Soros, the prominent financier, avoids using the financial contracts known as derivatives “because we don’t really understand how they work.” Felix G. Rohatyn, the investment banker who saved New York from financial catastrophe in the 1970s, described derivatives as potential “hydrogen bombs.”
And Warren E. Buffett presciently observed five years ago that derivatives were “financial weapons of mass destruction, carrying dangers that, while now latent, are potentially lethal.”
One prominent financial figure, however, has long thought otherwise. And his views held the greatest sway in debates about the regulation and use of derivatives — exotic contracts that promised to protect investors from losses, thereby stimulating riskier practices that led to the financial crisis. For more than a decade, the former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan has fiercely objected whenever derivatives have come under scrutiny in Congress or on Wall Street. “What we have found over the years in the marketplace is that derivatives have been an extraordinarily useful vehicle to transfer risk from those who shouldn’t be taking it to those who are willing to and are capable of doing so,” Mr. Greenspan told the Senate Banking Committee in 2003. “We think it would be a mistake” to more deeply regulate the contracts, he added. Read more....
The Asian markets are going to take a big tumble today because of what happened on Wall Street yesterday.The Dow was down 7.3% in yesterday's trading.
The whole world is in financial turmoil.Malaysia is still in a slumber.More concerned with politics than state of the economy.The KLSE is the only exchange that is not in sync with the other markets.Are we fundamentally strong or are we living in a state of denial.Watch the market next week.
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