Long Term Capital Management

LTCM circumstance study


The go up and fall of LASTING Capital Management is a peculiar financial disaster. Unlike other financial misadventures, LTCM didn't require any kind of fraud. Nobody was sent to jail. It all came right down to failing of the company's models. LTCM was started in 1994 by John Meriwether, a connection trader that increased to popularity during his amount of time in Salmon Brothers. The team that Meriwether built could be grouped as the NBA all-stars of the financial world. The trader and academics created a finance that used a blend of models developed by academics and market trader's intuition and wisdom to search out a profit. The fund elevated $1. 3 billion as its starting capital from a variety of investors a lot of whom where large financial institution. However, the four years later at the end of Sept of 1998, the fund had lost a substantial amount of its shareholders capital and was over a praecipe of personal bankruptcy. Fearing the most severe for the world's financial marketplaces the federal reserve stepped in and wrangled along the leading investment and commercial banking institutions to inject $3. 5 billion recovery package for 90% of LTCM equity.

Brief guide

From the start, Long-Term Capital management appeared to be destined to achieve success. With john Meriwether as the director/founder he brought on board Nobel prize winning economists Myron Scholes and Robert Merton. The vice chairman of the national reserve, David Mullins quit his job to become spouse at LTCM. With these huge titles of the financial world, Meriwether convinced 80 traders to buy into LTCM at the very least of $10 million per trader. Among the shareholders was Wayne Cayne, the chief executive of Bear Sterns. Merrill lynch also purchased a stake which it sold onto its wealthy clientele and the company's own CEO David Komansky.

LTCMs method of the market segments was not at all hard. It made convergent investments. Convergent trades require finding miss pricings in securities relative to each other. LTCM needed long positions on the cheaper securities and got short positions in the more costly ones. the finance made various kinds investments such as:

  • The converges of Western, Japanese and US sovereign bonds
  • convergence of Western european sovereign bonds
  • convergence of US government bonds
  • long positions in the rising markets, which were then hedged back to dollars

For the fund to make significant revenue it needed to make many highly-leveraged positions. This was because the difference between your converging investments were little. By 1998 the account had an equity of $5 billion with it had barrowed over $125 Billion, meaning its LTCM got a leverage proportion of 30 to 1 1. The funds partners thought that their risk was small. This was predicated on their complicated computer models which advised them that the positions they took were highly corollate.

LTCMs timeline:

  • 1994: With 80 buyers and a capitalisation of $1. 3 billion LTCM was founded by john Meriwether
  • Late 1997: For the past, several years the fund provided its buyers a return running near 40%. However, by the end of 1997, with the account handling $7 billion, the finance gave a returned of 27% that was roughly in line with the return attained by the united states equities. Due to the decreased dividends john Meriwether made a decision to return $2. 7 billion of the finance capital to the investors, stating that their where no large opportunities available to invest.
  • Start of 1998: The account was managing a portfolio valued well over $100 Billion. Because the return of 2. 7 billion last year LTCM possessed a net property value of $4 billion. With this collection, the cash swap position was at about $1. 25 trillion or 5% of the complete global swaps market. This quantity is of course notional as the finance needed offsetting positions. Because of this staggering activity the account became a distributor of index volatility to investment finance institutions. The account also stated to enter into the emerging market segments, Russia.
  • Mid 1998: Russia was facing an eminent financial meltdown and on 17 August 1998 Russia devalued its currency. The country also announced that it will suspend the repayments on 281 billion roubles of treasury arrears. This resulted in a panic in the market and a massive flight to quality. Traders rushed out of growing marketplaces into risk-free federal bonds. Since LTCM couldn't move its investment it experienced enormous liquidity deficits.
  • Beginning of September 1998: the resulting Russian crises caused LTCMs equity to drop to $2. 3 billion. While using unpresented reduction in equity john Meriwether made a decision to send out a notice disclosing the losses and trying to lure new investors to invest in the fund on special conditions. He also advised existing shareholders that they could not withdraw their moneys until December.
  • End of September: LTCM collateral extended to drop to a paltry $600 million (as it would have only lasted a week or two of margin calls) and because it was difficult to unload their stock portfolio the leverage ratio increased well beyond 30 to 1 1. This high proportion caused banking companies to question the funds ability to meet its daily margin calls. However, they cannot liquidate their own positions because they feared that in doing this will cause an emergency which would lead to huge loss among the money counterparts and deepen the crises even more.
  • 23rd September: Many top finance institutions were approached, including warren buffet, to buy out the LTCMs companions for $250 million. They might also inject $4 billion into the account which would then be run by Goldman Sachs. The offer had not been accepted part in due of time limitation. The offer might have been accepted but John Meriwether had to get hold of all the shareholders and the fund was haemorrhaging money each day. That the same day's evening the national reserve bank intervened to prevent a full blown global financial meltdown. The given organised a group of leading investment and commercial banking institutions to inject $3. 5 billion into the finance for 90% of LTCMs collateral.
  • End of 1998: The damage of LTCM semester caused lots of the major banks to take a significant write-off. UBS required a write-off $700 million, Dresdner Bank AG $145 million write-off, Credit Suisse $55 million write-off. In addition to the write-offs many top executives from the above-mentioned banks resigned in the wake of the loss.
  • 1999: Chief executive Clinton ordered an assessment of LTCMs crises which considered the systemic risk and how this can influence the global financial markets.

Analysis LTCMs fall:

Russian sovereign default

A slight cause for LTCMs street to redemption can be related to the Russian default on its federal government money. When LTCM enter the appearing market of Russia it possessed falsely thought that the chance it confronted with Russia debt had been hedged by providing rubbles. The money theory was that if (it was an extremely improbable if) Russia defaulted their currency would be devalued and it might make income in the FX marketplaces to offset the loss it could make in the relationship market.

However, when the Russian rubble collapsed the lenders that guaranteeing the rouble hedge turn off. To make things worse the Russian government also prevented the trading of its money on the marketplaces. Although LTCM did suffer a significant reduction in the Russian money crises it wasn't enough to bring down the hedge fund. Below is the conclusion of the ultimate reason behind LTCMs downfall that was the flight-to-liquidity.

Flight to Liquidity:

During the Russian crises airfare to liquidity was the major cause for LTCMs debacle as it affected the global preset income markets. Managers of preset income portfolios seeing that the Russian crises was worsening decided to move their property to more liquid assets like the usa treasury market. Traders thought that even the treasury was not enough liquidity so they started to spend money on the most liquid part of the treasury market that was the "on-the-run" treasuries. This hurry for the on the run treasuries widened the pass on dramatically amongst the on the run and off of the run treasuries.

This sudden rush to liquidity is exactly what LTCM didn't consider as a large part of the portfolio was subjected to changes in the price tag on liquidity. In this turmoil, the 'price' or rather value of liquidity increased the price of LTCMs short positions in accordance with its long positions. This is LTCMs unhedged exposure to an individual risk factor

Systemic risk:

The above points out the reason why LTCM almost failed but how do a failure of a single fund threaten the complete financial market. The reason why was that LTCM wasn't acting together in its investing. LTCM experienced several stellar years and many companies were catching on to what the account was doing. Salomon Brothers, Merrill Lynch, the III Finance (which also failed because of the crises) and likely other all got similar leverage treasury relationship positions.

One might speculate why there wasn't more diversity between such companies and the reason was twofold. The foremost is they intensely relied on their sophisticated computer models which told them the same thing that from the run was cheaper than on the run treasuries. The next problem was that the corporations got their information about the market segments and exactly how it flows through their dealings with Long Term Capital Management. This information game them the idea of what positions others took and they would take up similar positions.

The relationship market became prone when in the first a few months of 1998 Citigroup decided to shut down the Salomon Brothers Treasury bond arbitrage desk. At that time, Solomon was considered the most significant player in treasuries trading. They had to begin to market off their positions which caused the deals to become cheaper and cheaper. Since these on-the-run/off-the-run investments became cheaper it brought on the strain on the leverage parties to switch to more safer and much more liquid positions.

Lesson Learnt from LTCMs downfall:

Although LTCM is probably the largest devastation of this kind as common in the financial world it isn't alone. There have been other circumstances highly leverage company that went under in similar circumstances. Franklin Personal savings and Loan was a hedge finance that figured out many risky mortgage loan derivatives were undervalued. Franklin invested in these risky thinking that in the long it can make a profit.

Granite cash specialised in mortgage guaranteed securities trading. The fund saw good economical value in buying dangerous tranches of mortgage derivative market. What the fund didn't anticipate was that the given was going to raise interest rates. There was a rush to liquidate mortgage-backed securities in wall membrane street firms which resulted in their deal at huge haircuts.

The above cases have similar fates, most of them presumed that they had hedged their vulnerability but when the margin cell phone calls were made they were not able to meet them. The common theme among Franklin, Granite and LTCM was that they wanted to exploit the deviation in market value from good value. All three assumed that what mattered most was fair value over market value. Whit this believe they convinced their shareholders that their good value was hedged and it didn't matter what occurred to the market value in the short term as they would converge to the good value as time passes. That why Long term was part of LTCMs name.

Their idea was to wait it out until the convergence however not every person is really as patient. Investors lose patients right at the time when its needed the most as it was in this case. LTCM, franklin and Granite demonstrated that traders get anxious real fast when there can be an external shock such as the Russian crises. The shareholders started to measure the market valuation of advantage and not trust the good value that was forecasted by the computer models. This lead to the valuation of illiquid securities at the market value, margin cell phone calls were made about them. To make the margin message or calls the illiquid securities would have to be sold then more margin cell phone calls were made. It eventually ends up as a vicious cycle. From these we can see that the strategies can create good return but only when they are organised for a long time.

Liquidity risk

In these we see that air travel to liquidity was a cause for LTCMs street to redemption. This phenomenon must have been included in the risk models within the stress test. This would have allowed LTCM to classify its long positions as illiquid and short positions as water and this could have allowed the account to balance its subjection. Refining it further it might have showed how liquidity is damaged by different securities. This idea of contact with liquidity risk should participate any leveraged profile.

Model stress testing:

Another lesson learnt from LTCM models are at the mercy of failure and should be pressed to the limit with stress tests and then impartial judgment should be utilized to interpret the results. Taking into consideration the follies of days past provides us 20/20 hindsight but thinking how sound common sense and stress testing might well have reduced the quantity of damage triggered by LTCM. The sophisticated models used by LTCM proved that their positions were low risk. The key assumption that the model used was that there is high correlation between the long and short positions. the correlation relationship that differed in their risk would move jointly at 90-95% of that time period on the 2-12 months period. During LTCMs crises this number lowered to 80%. If LTCM used stress tests on this lower number they might have dropped their leveraged positions.

However, LTCM didn't do their scheduled diligent as these correlation had lowered to 75% in as just lately as 1992. By stress tests their models making use of this to begin with LTCM even would have been around in such a leverage position to start with.

Financial institution risk assessment:

Another lesson from LTCM was that risk can add up across different business. Many of the large finance institutions were subjected to the Russian crises across many various areas of their establishments. The publicity was only seen after LTCMs crises. One particular example is these banks held Russian government personal debt responsibility bonds (GKO), these banking institutions also made commercial loans to Russian businesses and they had direct contact with the Russian crises through their financing to LTCM. A risk management system could have flagged these common links plus they would have been reported to reduce the lenders risk.

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