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Citigroup's Last Roman: The Short and Ugly Lifespan Of A Sneaky Financial Product

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Bloomberg new has gone especially gloomy lately. On Tuesday it was the really, really long expose on counterparty risk in credit default swaps. Today Mark Pittman follows up on variable interest entities, the ugly step child of the off-balance sheet special purpose vehicles that Enron made infamous.
We wrote about these way back in February, when people were first waking up to the fact that banks had undisclosed exposure to mortgage backed securities held by VIEs. Now lawmakers, regulators and accounting standards people are considering rules that would prevent off-balance-sheet treatment for VIEs.
Bloomberg highlights one short-lived VIE with a particularly unfortunate name. Launched by Citigroup just as the mortgage market was collapsing, the $2.5 billion entity known as Bonifacius Ltd was loaded up with subprime mortgages. Six months later it was dead. Bonifacius, as our readers with classics degrees undoubtedly know, was named called "the last of the Romans" by historian Edward Gibbon, author of The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire. Bonifacius "fought and died for a fading empire."
Citigroup's `Last Roman' CDO Shows Enron Accounting [Bloomberg]