Congratulations, You Idiots, You Broke the Bond Market
pic credit: snphillips via Etsy
h/t WC Varones who beat me to it
It smells like Sarbanes-Oxley: a poorly thought-out, bureaucracy-heavy piece of garbage that inconveniences everyone but the legislators who want to get reelected by making it appear as though they are effectively doing their jobs. I'm waiting patiently for someone to say there is a PCAOB of rating agencies buried in this financial reform beast (I still have yet to read the entire thing but hey, I'm probably through more of it than the asshats who voted for it ever got) and not at all surprised to hear that it's already creating unintended drama.
The nation's three dominant credit-ratings providers have made an urgent new request of their clients: Please don't use our credit ratings.
The odd plea is emerging as the first consequence of the financial overhaul that is to be signed into law by President Obama on Wednesday. And it already is creating havoc in the bond markets, parts of which are shutting down in response to the request.
Standard & Poor's, Moody's Investors Service and Fitch Ratings are all refusing to allow their ratings to be used in documentation for new bond sales, each said in statements in recent days. Each says it fears being exposed to new legal liability created by the landmark Dodd-Frank financial reform law.
The new law will make ratings firms liable for the quality of their ratings decisions, effective immediately. The companies say that, until they get a better understanding of their legal exposure, they are refusing to let bond issuers use their ratings.
I remind dear reader that Congress may appear absolutely clueless but actually knows more than we give them credit for. I'm fairly certain the jackasses who wrote the thing knew exactly what can of worms they were opening at the time.
That is important because some bonds, notably those that are made up of consumer loans, are required by law to include ratings in their official documentation. That means new bond sales in the $1.4 trillion market for mortgages, autos, student loans and credit cards could effectively shut down.
There have been no new asset-backed bonds put on sale this week, in stark contrast to last week, when $3 billion of issues were sold. Market participants say the new law is partly behind the slowdown.
"We are at a standstill right now," said Bingham McCutchen partner Ed Gainor, who specializes in asset-backed securities.
Oh noes! What will Bernanke do with all that preventative liquidity he's sitting on and dying to put into action?!
I may be jumping the gun here but did we just watch their Frankenstein bill strangle rating agencies?
Doubtful. They're already looking for ways around it and knowing Congress, there are 2 or 3 really reliable loopholes written right in.