Monday, November 24, 2008

On the Citi Bailout

From the rapid 50% runup in Citi's stock price when the market opened today, followed by an absolutely flat stock price for the rest of the day on more than five times the usual volume, I infer that either everyone buying and selling Citi common is using exactly the same model to value the post-bailout Citi, or there is some form of support out there.

Also there are some material differences between the Term Sheet for the Citi bailout and the press announcement .

First, about the "Term Sheet". Two pages of large type? This isn't a real Term Sheet.

Second, according to the press release, "Eligible Assets" include "$306 billion of loans and securities backed by residential and commercial real estate and other such assets" but the Term Sheet seems not to limit the bailout to "other such assets"; the Term Sheet says simply "other assets the U.S. Government (USG) has agreed to guarantee"... a pretty big loophole. Credit card debt anyone? New bonds?

Third, in the same paragraph the wording says"each specific asset must be identified on signing of guarantee agreement."; singular "asset" and no article ("an" "the"). Very odd wording. We will not know how much of the "up to" $306 assets and how many of the guarantee contracts there are for weeks, or probably the Obama administration.

Fourth, in the Term Sheet under "Deductible", Citi takes the first $29 Billion loss (plus the reserves I think); then the Treasury takes 90% of the next $5.5 Billion; finally the FDIC takes 90% of another $11 Billion. Then, according to the press release, "In addition and if necessary, the Federal Reserve stands ready to backstop residual risk in the asset pool through a non-recourse loan." But the Term Sheet says " Federal Reserve funds remaining pool of assets with a non-recourse loan, subject to the institution's 10% loss sharing...", which opens up a whole host of questions about how the loan and the assets will be carried on the Fed's books and what they mean by "the pool" (singular). More odd wording. Also, will there be a real loan or will the Fed. simply "stand ready", which makes the guarantee eerily like the one given to Fannie and Freddie bonds, a guarantee that the market clearly doesn't believe.

How do the loan (if it happens), the existing loss reserves, and the 10% now get accounted for on Citi's books?

Finally, should we begin to treat the Federal Reserve like one of AIG or Citi's SIVs? A method of allowing liability to sit off books- for a while?

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