For those who don't know, there is an absolute mountain of paper that trades where it does only because it has insurance. Sort of like the paper
that traded where it did because it was supposedly AAA, and that rating turned out to be worthless. Any AAA, AA, A or whatever rating
that's based on insurance may not be worth the paper it's written on.
Barf went the Merrill bull.
It's a lesson that hit Merrill Lynch (MER, news, msgs) hard. Witness the subprime fallout behind the company's sobering third-quarter earnings
report. Merrill wrote down about $5.8 billion of $14.2 billion in what's
known as super-senior subprime assets -- the stuff that's supposedly above AAA and bulletproof.
When asked on the conference call if everything was marked where it could be sold, there was no answer, leaving folks with the idea
that there was plenty of stuff still marked to model. And you can be sure that if Merrill Lynch has this problem of potentially mismarked
paper, so do all of the brokers and probably some of the big banks. This is a huge deal. (Memo to nonbelievers: The problem is spreading, it has not
been discounted and it has not been contained.) http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Investing/ContrarianChronicles/TechStocksPainProvesTheyreVulnerableToo.aspx
FLECK , OCT 29