More on the Sub-Prime Lending Scandal

posted on:
January 9, 2008



The sub-prime mortgage scandal is far from over. In fact, it’s now affecting large banks all over the world. Recently, UBS has announced a $10 billion write-down tied directly to the fall in the value of its assets backed by American sub-prime mortgages.

This comes after USB downgraded its assets by $3.4 billion in October. The Swiss bank now says it will record a loss for the fourth quarter. It could also post a net loss attributable to shareholders for the year 2007. Most investors had already been expecting a relatively large write-down, based on the knowledge that UBS has been heavily involved in the issuing of collateralized debt obligations, or securities that have subprime debt packaged into them. Many had been fearing losses that would be even larger than those announced last month. It had been predicted that UBS would be the worst-hit bank in Europe because of the subprime crisis and would post a loss of around $9.3 billion. So, as bad as it actually turned out to be, the situation facing USB could have been much worse.

Other large European investment banks will soon be announcing their write-downs, though none will likely be as large as UBS. The following French banks will be involved: Societe Generale will likely post a $3.2 billion write-down; Credit Agricole will have a $1.7 billion charge; and Credit Suisse will post a $1.4 billion write-down. BNP Paribas, which froze three of its investment funds back in August to spur the European market turbulence, will likely post a relatively small write-down since its CDO business is not significant. A write-down of slightly less than $4 billion is projected for Deutsche Bank. Lloyds TSB, the U.K.’s fifth-biggest lender, will come out of the credit crunch with a relatively small £200 million ($408 million) write-down.

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