the visible hand

it is the theory which decides what can be observed – einstein

Guesstimates Won’t Cut It Anymore

Posted by ecoshift on October 28, 2007

Guesstimates Won’t Cut It Anymore – New York Times
By GRETCHEN MORGENSON
Published: October 28, 2007

THE props holding up the values of risky mortgage securities finally started to give way last week. And that means the $30 billion in losses and write-downs taken by big brokerage firms in the third quarter are not likely to be the last.

Even as developments in the credit markets went from bad to worse this year, investors for the most part have remained upbeat about the values of the mortgage securities they held. One reason that they could keep their heads in the sand was that these complex securities are hard to value in good times, impossible during periods of stress.

Executives of companies with big stakes in mortgages also accentuated the power of positive investor thinking. Emerging periodically from their corner offices, these executives opined that in spite of rocketing delinquencies, most loans continued to perform well. Rating agencies, fending off complaints that they had been slow to downgrade, maintained that they would adjust their ratings only after they saw actual loan failures. Government officials trotted out regularly to contend that upheaval in the mortgage market was a minor scrape.

After last week, however, it was no longer plausible to deny that mortgage loans, and the complex securities derived from them, had crashed — and caused a lot of damage in the process.

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