Interest Rate Roundup

Monday, January 22, 2007

Everybody's warning about risk ... but nobody's selling

I'm seeing, reading, and hearing a lot of warnings about complacency and risk-taking in the global financial markets. Just in the past few days, the Financial Times has chimed in with a story titled "The unease bubbling in today's brave new financial world." It recounts how hedge funds and global financial institutions are making risky bets in the leveraged debt markets ... and makes the claim that market players are privately worried sick about how this will all turn out.

Policymakers in Davos are also making noises about all the risk that the markets are underappreciating, according to Bloomberg. One quote from Willem Buiter, a professor at the London School of Economics who used to sit on the Bank of England's monetary policy committee ...

"Current risks are ludicrously underpriced ... At some point, someone is going to get an extremely nasty surprise."

Of course, the key words are "at some point." No one is willing to make the proverbial first move right now and aggressively unload his high-risk positions. Once someone does, things will get ugly fast. But it's anyone's guess as to what sparks the exodus, and when it starts.


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