Gretchen Morgenson may have a new punching bag and her name is Merrill Lynch. Bloomberg reports that subprime losses could make Merrill bonds riskier than debt issued by Bear Stearns.
Merrill may have the most potential for losses from so-called collateralized debt obligations, or CDOs, that repackage bonds backed by mortgages, analysts led by Jeffrey Rosenberg wrote in a research note this week. "The relative exposure to Merrill is likely understated," Rosenberg said. Underwriting data "suggest Merrill Lynch has the most exposure of the brokers to subprime through the origination of CDOs," his team wrote.
Merrill arranged $46 billion in structured-finance CDOs last year, according to data in the BofA report. Citigroup was second, with $21.3 billion, and Bear was 10th, packaging $9.4 billion of the deals.
We can only imagine that the response from Bear Stearns, who was taken to task by Morgenson a few weeks ago for what she regarded as "dubious industry practices and even fraud," must be something along the lines of an off-color two-word phrase that we're too Victorian to print here. This news couldn't come at a better time—we hear Gretzky’s been looking to sink her claws into some fresh meat.
Earlier: Regards' Just Seemed So Impersonal
SUBPRIME RISK HIGH [Bloomberg via NYP]