Most notably, because super-senior debt carried the triple-A tag, banks were only required to post a wafer-thin sliver of capital against these assets - even though this debt has typically offered a spread of about 10 basis points over risk-free funds. Thus, banks such as UBS and Merrill have been cramming their books with tens of billions of super-senior debt - and then booking the spread as a seemingly never-ending source of easy profit. It is not just the CDO desks that have been playing this game; treasury departments have been playing along. So have many hedge funds, including those financed by . . . er . . . the major investment banks.
Thursday, August 07, 2008
The Carry Trade