Thursday, February 22, 2007

Sup-Prime Problems Continue

From Bloomberg

The perceived risk of owning low- rated subprime mortgage bonds rose to a record for a fifth day after Moody's Investors Service said it may cut the loan servicing ratings of five lenders.

An index of credit-default swaps linked to 20 securities rated BBB-, the lowest investment grade, and sold in the second half of 2006 today fell 5.6 percent to 74.2, according to Markit Group Ltd. It's down 24 percent since being introduced Jan. 18, meaning an investor would pay more than $1.12 million a year to protect $10 million of bonds against default, up from $389,000.

Moody's said late yesterday that it may cut the so-called servicer ratings for affiliates or units of lenders including Irvine, California-based New Century Financial Corp., the second- largest lender to subprime borrowers. Declines in the ABX-HE-BBB- 07-1 and similar indexes accelerated this month as New Century and HSBC Holdings PLC, the biggest lender, said more of their loans were going bad than they expected. London-based HSBC today said the head of its North American unit stepped down.

The news in this area of the market continues to show deterioration. I will admit I am still very surprised this has not spilled over into the larger economy as a whole in the form of lowered consumer spending or decreased consumer confidence.