Bank of America is in the news yet again and of course not for a good reason. They are again trying to position itself for another bailout, and it is going under the radar of mainstrem media. A recent article came out in Bloomberg (available here) titled BofA Said to Split Regulators Over Moving Merrill Derivatives to Bank Unit.
William K. Black of ThinkProgress describes this article:
The thrust of their story is that Bank of America’s holding company, BAC, has directed the transfer of a large number of troubled financial derivatives from its Merrill Lynch subsidiary to the federally insured bank Bank of America (BofA). The story reports that the Federal Reserve supported the transfer and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) opposed it. Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism has writtenan appropriately blistering attack on this outrageous action, which puts the public at substantially increased risk of loss.
Bank of America Corp. (BAC), hit by a credit downgrade last month, has moved derivatives from its Merrill Lynch unit to a subsidiary flush with insured deposits, according to people with direct knowledge of the situation…
Bank of America’s holding company — the parent of both the retail bank and the Merrill Lynch securities unit — held almost $75 trillion of derivatives at the end of June, according to data compiled by the OCC. About $53 trillion, or 71 percent, were within Bank of America NA, according to the data, which represent the notional values of the trades.
That compares with JPMorgan’s deposit-taking entity, JPMorgan Chase Bank NA, which contained 99 percent of the New York-based firm’s $79 trillion of notional derivatives, the OCC data show.
If you recall, derivatives played a huge part in bringing down the financial system in 2008, and it was determined at that time that some derivatives should absolutely be eliminated.
Remember the credit default swaps (per Naked Capitalism):
They have virtually no legitimate economic uses (no one was complaining about the illiquidity of corporate bonds prior to the introduction of CDS; this was not a perceived need among investors). They are an inherently defective product, since there is no way to margin adequately for “jump to default” risk and have the product be viable economically. CDS are systematically underpriced insurance, with insurers guaranteed to go bust periodically, as AIG and the monolines demonstrated.