Update on the Fed’s $123 billion in emergency lending to AIG.
For those intrigued by my credit default swap post, there is a good article in yesterday’s New York Times. The article asks, “where are the funds being lent to AIG by the Fed going within the company”
The American International Group is rapidly running through $123 billion in emergency lending provided by the Federal Reserve, raising questions about how a company claiming to be solvent in September could have developed such a big hole by October. Some analysts say at least part of the shortfall must have been there all along, hidden by irregular accounting.
The article goes on to describe that accounting for its derivatives trades, largely the selling of credit default swap protection, had been severely lacking oversight. As more attention was drawn to the activities of AIG’s Financial Products group, an alarming picture began to emerge.
Credit Default Swaps – A Primer
A credit default swap is a type of credit derivative. Credit derivatives “derive” their value from an underlying credit instrument; generally the bonds of sovereign nations or the bonds of a corporate entity. In recent years, credit derivatives have been created that are based obligations rather than entities; one common reference obligation are asset backed securities based on home equity loans.
A credit default swap is a contract that allows one to take or reduce credit exposure. The contract is between the two parties and does not directly involve the underlying reference entity. A credit default swap is essentially an insurance policy where one entity pays a premium to a second entity to take on the risk of a loss.
Let’s look at a fictitious example.
Barak Obama Will Cut Taxes More than John McCain for 95.7% of Bangor Residents
John McCain and Barak Obama have both proposed tax plans that will cut income taxes for most Americans. The Tax Policy Institute has a very comprehensive analysis of the candidate’s plans, as well as some very informative projections available on its website. In this analysis I focus on the implications of each candidate’s plans for the working families of Bangor, ME.
Data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey of 2007 gives us a fairly detailed picture of the breakdown of household incomes in the Bangor, ME metropolitan statistical area (MSA). We see that, like much of the country, the vast majority of Bangor residents earn incomes of less than $200,000 per year. Nearly 50% of households in the Bangor MSA have annual incomes between $25,000 and $75,000, while 2.2% earn more than $200,000 per year.
(Click on chart for larger view)
For the data table behind the chart, click here.
There has been a lot of talk about tax relief for working Americans; just how much relief depends on your definition of “working Americans.”