“Ambac and chief competitor MBIA together insure $700 billion in municipal bonds, and MBIA’s “AAA” rating is also under threat. The company issued $1 billion in bonds this week to preserve the rating, though that may not be enough to satisfy the ratings agencies. MBIA said in a statement Friday it intends to keep working toward maintaining its “AAA” rating.
Since late last year, when the agencies first raised the prospect, analysts have suggested any move to cut Ambac or MBIA below “AAA” could be disastrous. The concern is that downgrades will lead to a reduction in the value of portfolios at dozens of financial institutions, said Donald Light, a senior analyst at Celent LLC.”
This could spark a substantial sell-off by institutional investors such as pension funds that can only invest in top-rate securities, causing their value to drop. That in turn would prompt even more selling. As the securities become less valuable, Wall Street firms could be forced to write down billions of dollars on their balance sheets, restating how much their holdings of these securities are worth. The banks, which have already suffered staggering losses, have relied heavily on bond insurance to reduce their exposure to subprime mortgage debt and other complicated securities linked to these loans.
“Everyone thinks they’re looking at the cliff over Armageddon,” said Ed Rombach, senior derivatives analyst at Thomson Financial. “If you think the write-downs have been bad so far, the next write-downs could be twice as big.”
Meanwhile, we spend billions of dollars of borrowed money every quarter in Iraq and Afghanistan to stabilize the countries of others while our own safety-nets disintegrate. A financial bloodbath is on the horizon and Bush thinks everything will be “okay” if he passes out little $500 checks to you and I for spending on junk at the mall.
May God have mercy upon us.