Monday, June 13, 2011

Remember AIG?

The Bank of International Settlements - the go-to source for checking the exposure of one economy to another - published some new data last week.

As always, it makes for interesting reading. In particular, we were fascinated by this: while European financial firms have huge direct exposure to Greece, Ireland and Portugal (since they own most of the bonds issued by these countries), it is American firms that have sold a substantial portion of the insurance on this debt (in the form of credit default swaps). This means that if, for example, Greece was to default the Americans would take a pretty hard hit since they would have to pay out on the insurance they have provided against a Greek default.

So if this reading is correct, a surprising number of American firms that have taken the opposite side of the bet on a Greek default.

AIG anyone?

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