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John Thomas graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry with honors and a minor in mathematics from the University of California at Los Angeles (U.C.L.A.) in 1974. He moved to Tokyo, Japan where he was employed by a medium-sized Japanese securities house. Thomas became fluent in Japanese... More
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  • Why Not Just Make the Bad Loans Go Away? 0 comments
    May 9, 2009 10:34 AM

    There is an easier, cheaper, and faster way to solve the banking crisis which no one is talking about on Capitol Hill.  If collateralized debt obligations (CDO’s) are the problem, just get rid of them! Desecuritize them! Just convert them back into the underlying loans. There are $1.4 trillion in CDO’s outstanding backed by Alt-A and subprime loans in the form of 3,700 individual securitizations of perhaps 3.7 million loans. Over 68% of the loans backing these bonds are current.  Mark to market rules are forcing the banks to carry this paper on their balance sheets at 50%-80% discounts. The problem is that mark to market is a meaningless accounting fiction when there is no market. If you break up these securities and place the underlying loans back on the banks’ balance sheets, the good mortgages can be valued at 100% of face, and those behind in their payments or in default can be discounted to maybe 70% because they are still secured by the value of the homes. This would boost the value of the entire asset class from the current 20-50 cents up to 90 cents on the dollar. Restored balance sheets would enable banks to resume lending. Of course it would be a massive admin job unwinding the rats’ nests behind some of these securities, but Heaven knows there is abundant subprime and Alt-A expertise available for hire these days. Just sift through the ashes of Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns. It is a workable plan, and therefore is unlikely to ever see the light of day

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