Sunday, February 8, 2009

Remember the hung bridge loans of the LBO Boom?

They don't get much attention these days. This time last year, there was a school of thought that held that cov lite LBO financing posed a greater risk than structured finance product to the balance sheets of global capital markets institutions. Of course, this time last year, the SIVs and other off balance sheet arrangements hadn't been brought back onto those balance sheets.

Still, those loans were made, and they are sitting somewhere (in the case of Lyondell, on a bankruptcy schedule). But they aren't getting much attention, at least not publicly. I have to wonder if that's because they were quietly and successfully written down and placed while the media frenzy was focused on other issues, or if like landmines left over from some long ended conflict, they aren't still a lurking danger.

Tonight's prediction--this is going to be a long, variegated and unpleasant ordeal. The impact will fall unevenly, the sequencing of events will be uncertain (but interelated), and the closer you were to the point of impact the worse it will be for you.

In other words, for a change the American homeowner and the London investment banker are going to feel the impact more than the Japanese apartment dweller or the Brazilian shopkeeper.

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