Nytt

Wall street idag var en følelse av at det er nå det virkelig begynner å rutsje utfor. På en dag da Fed-sjefen Ben Bernanke lover kraftig stimuleringspakker for å motvirke nedturen, faller Dow Jones med 300 poeng. Det sier alt om tilliten.

Det kommer dårlige tall for vareproduksjon, Merill Lynch må avskrive 11,5 milliard dollar. Men varslet om at Moodys fjerner trippel-A ratingen for selskapene som forsikrer obligasjonsavkastning, utløser et nytt ras.

Det er ikke lenger siden enn desember at Moodys sa de oppretthold trippel-A-ratingen for forskringsselskapene Ambac Finanical Group og MBIA.

Fears the credit crunch might be entering a new phase grew on Thursday as doubts rose about the financial strength of insurers that guarantee payments on billions of dollars of bonds.

Shares in Ambac Financial Group and MBIA, the world’s biggest bond insurers, fell by 65 per cent and 40 per cent, respectively, after Moody’s warned it could downgrade the former’s triple-A rating on which their business model depends.

Such a downgrade is widely feared by US policymakers. It would reverberate through bond markets around the world, hitting the value of the $2,400bn of municipal and structured bonds they guarantee, as the loss of triple-A credit ratings would also lead to downgrades of many of the bonds they cover.

A downgrade could also force banks and other financial institutions to vastly increase the amount of risk capital held against deals already done with the insurers or holdings of insured bonds. Institutional capital is already stretched by billions of dollars of mortgage-related writedowns.

In the credit markets, the cost of buying protection against a possible default by MBIA or Ambac rose sharply.

For oss vanlige mennesker er dette en ukjent verden. Men vi aner at når sikkerheten rundt obligasjoner (et trygt investeringsobjekt vanligvis) svekkes, forplanter dette seg i systemet. Mange begynner å trekke til seg klørne og innta defensive posisjoner. Det er slike nye strategier som gjør at resesjonen er garantert.

Rating review raises credit fears