Civil unrest alert!
A few years ago Jefferson County, Alabama bought 17 interest rate swaps from JP Morgan, Lehman Brothers and Bank of America with the intention of hedging interest rate risk.
Today the county said it may need the National Guard to hedge the the “anarchy risk” it now faces as a result of the fiscal disaster its venture into “sophisticated” derivatives turned out to be.
In a sequence of events that played out in state capitals, city halls, and school and public utility boardrooms throughout the country , Jefferson County officials bought into complex interest rate swap contracts they didn’t understand, at much higher prices than the going rate, only to face hundreds of millions of dollars in sudden collateral calls when the subprime mortgage crisis began.
Jefferson County’s collateral calls came when credit rating agencies downgraded the monolines insuring its swaps contracts, Financial Guaranty and XL Capital Assurance, last year, when all the major monolines were beset with downgrades following a fatal foray into the business of “insuring” subprime mortgage-backed CDOs and other asset-backed securities.
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