Monday, August 24, 2009
Zero Hedge Claims that the Federal Reserve ITSELF Traded Over a Trillion Dollars Worth of Derivatives in March Alone
You know Zero Hedge, the popular website which has broken major stories like Goldman's dominance of high-frequency trading.
Some say that Zero Hedge occasionally breaks stories before adequately fact-checking them. I don't know whether that is true or not, but I do know that - in the months I've been reading the site - ZH has broken a number of major stories which:
(1) Were later covered by the world's biggest financial news outlets
(2) Have caused Congress members, Senators, the New York Stock Exchange and others to take action to change reporting requirements and to shut down questionable practices
Zero Hedge is now claiming that the Federal Reserve itself traded over a trillion dollars worth of derivatives in March alone:
If Zero Hedge is right about this one, it will end up being one of the biggest stories of the year.
Federal Reserve Disclosed Trading $1.4 trillion in OTC "Other" Derivatives in March 2009 *corrected
The Federal Reserve has apparently been engaged in OTC derivatives trading. As of March 2009, they began publishing this information in several categories broken down by 'risk'. Tyler discovered this bombshell last Friday. In Treasury TIC data there are large sums classified as "Other Contracts". While it is not clear what specifically is being traded , we know these are not "Single-currency Interest Rate Contracts" nor are they "Foreign Exchange Contracts". These contracts are classified as "Other Contracts by Type of Risk" -- and they include $85 billion in OTC equity derivatives , and $1.169 trillion (yes, with a T) in OTC credit derivatives.
[Click for full image]
What is interesting here is that prior to March 2009 such trading was not reported in detail. The March disclosure by category is what is completely new. These Fed OTC derivatives have $1 trillion+ in capital in "Other". It is unclear what aspect of the credit capital markets this is allocated to or propping up: is it CDS? And if so, what entities are the contracts written on? At this time, it is unclear what relationship, if any, these $1.4 trillion in Federal Reserve OTC derivatives have to the unusual market activity many of us have been observing.
Update: The Zero Hedge author who wrote the original story clarified that the $1.4 trillion figure is not just for March, but for the reporting period:
Just a clarification -- this data was reported in March 2009, but includes data over the reporting period, not just March. Regardless this is quite the bombshell!