Thursday, January 24, 2008

Massive losses are easy to find............

Last weekend we walked by the New York offices of SocGen, Societe Generale, France's second-largest bank by market capitalization The bank is reporting a trading loss so huge that one analyst actually said that, at first, he thought it was some kind of “joke.” With $7.1 billion soundly wiped out (more than the $6.6 billion lost by Amaranth in 2006) the bank says its woes are stemming less from the subprime mess and more from the activities of one unidentified trader it’s now accusing of fraud. Never mind how any trader could have kept a losing position that size so well hidden.

The egregious compensation paid to these traders who play with OPM (for those of you in Mandaree that is Other People's Money) or with the house account and take large unhedged risks are in need of therapy/jail time/thrown out of the securities business. Or are the execs in charge of overseeing these thugs to blame? Of course they are, but don't ask Stan or John or Warren if they were at fault. The lack of risk control and transparency is just so hard to fathom but then again it's not. There's too much money to be made at the top to not allow the gigangic prop profits that can be booked (or lost).

And the derivates debacle has only gotten a good head of steam.

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