Auction Rate Insecurity: Investors Had Too Much Confidence In Wall Street

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So how did Wall Street convince all those corporate treasurers to invest the cash holdings of their companies in disastrous auction rate securities? A new study shows that more than 85 percent thought that Wall Street firms would bail out the market if it failed, according to this morning's Financial Times.
Nearly 70 per cent of corporate treasurers who bought auction-rate securities said dealer support was implied. A full 17 per cent of the treasurers said that they were "told explicitly that the investment bank would ensure that the auctions would not fail."
For years, the firms selling auction rate securities did support the market by buying excess securities, guaranteeing the auctions would not fail. When scrambling to increase balance sheet capital earlier this year, nearly every firm on Wall Street that had sold the products decided to let the auctions fail. Since then issuers have been forced to bail out those securities paying the highest interest rates, while investors with those paying the lowest interest rates have simply been unable to access their funds.

Auction-rate securities 'implied support'
[Financial Times]

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