Insurance Bundles Quotes

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He wondered about the people in houses like those. They would be, for example, small clerks, shop-assistants, commercial travellers, insurance touts, tram conductors. Did they know that they were only puppets dancing when money pulled the strings? You bet they didn’t. And if they did, what would they care? They were too busy being born, being married, begetting, working, dying. It mightn’t be a bad thing, if you could manage it, to feel yourself one of them, one of the ruck of men. Our civilization is founded on greed and fear, but in the lives of common men the greed and fear are mysteriously transmuted into something nobler. The lower-middle-class people in there, behind their lace curtains, with their children and their scraps of furniture and their aspidistras — they lived by the money-code, sure enough, and yet they contrived to keep their decency. The money-code as they interpreted it was not merely cynical and hoggish. They had their standards, their inviolable points of honour. They ‘kept themselves respectable’— kept the aspidistra flying. Besides, they were alive. They were bound up in the bundle of life. They begot children, which is what the saints and the soul-savers never by any chance do. The aspidistra is the tree of life, he thought suddenly.
George Orwell (Keep the Aspidistra Flying)
If Jim was back at the imaginary dinner party, trying to explain what he did for a living, he'd have tried to keep it simple: clearing involved everything that took place between the moment someone started at trade — buying or selling a stock, for instance — and the moment that trade was settled — meaning the stock had officially and legally changed hands. Most people who used online brokerages thought of that transaction as happening instantly; you wanted 10 shares of GME, you hit a button and bought 10 shares of GME, and suddenly 10 shares of GME were in your account. But that's not actually what happened. You hit the Buy button, and Robinhood might find you your shares immediately and put them into your account; but the actual trade took two days to complete, known, for that reason, in financial parlance as 'T+2 clearing.' By this point in the dinner conversation, Jim would have fully expected the other diners' eyes to glaze over; but he would only be just beginning. Once the trade was initiated — once you hit that Buy button on your phone — it was Jim's job to handle everything that happened in that in-between world. First, he had to facilitate finding the opposite partner for the trade — which was where payment for order flow came in, as Robinhood bundled its trades and 'sold' them to a market maker like Citadel. And next, it was the clearing brokerage's job to make sure that transaction was safe and secure. In practice, the way this worked was by 10:00 a.m. each market day, Robinhood had to insure its trade, by making a cash deposit to a federally regulated clearinghouse — something called the Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation, or DTCC. That deposit was based on the volume, type, risk profile, and value of the equities being traded. The riskier the equities — the more likely something might go wrong between the buy and the sell — the higher that deposit might be. Of course, most all of this took place via computers — in 2021, and especially at a place like Robinhood, it was an almost entirely automated system; when customers bought and sold stocks, Jim's computers gave him a recommendation of the sort of deposits he could expect to need to make based on the requirements set down by the SEC and the banking regulators — all simple and tidy, and at the push of a button.
Ben Mezrich (The Antisocial Network: The GameStop Short Squeeze and the Ragtag Group of Amateur Traders That Brought Wall Street to Its Knees)
By now, though, it had been a steep learning curve, he was fairly well versed on the basics of how clearing worked: When a customer bought shares in a stock on Robinhood — say, GameStop — at a specific price, the order was first sent to Robinhood's in-house clearing brokerage, who in turn bundled the trade to a market maker for execution. The trade was then brought to a clearinghouse, who oversaw the trade all the way to the settlement. During this time period, the trade itself needed to be 'insured' against anything that might go wrong, such as some sort of systemic collapse or a default by either party — although in reality, in regulated markets, this seemed extremely unlikely. While the customer's money was temporarily put aside, essentially in an untouchable safe, for the two days it took for the clearing agency to verify that both parties were able to provide what they had agreed upon — the brokerage house, Robinhood — had to insure the deal with a deposit; money of its own, separate from the money that the customer had provided, that could be used to guarantee the value of the trade. In financial parlance, this 'collateral' was known as VAR — or value at risk. For a single trade of a simple asset, it would have been relatively easy to know how much the brokerage would need to deposit to insure the situation; the risk of something going wrong would be small, and the total value would be simple to calculate. If GME was trading at $400 a share and a customer wanted ten shares, there was $4000 at risk, plus or minus some nominal amount due to minute vagaries in market fluctuations during the two-day period before settlement. In such a simple situation, Robinhood might be asked to put up $4000 and change — in addition to the $4000 of the customer's buy order, which remained locked in the safe. The deposit requirement calculation grew more complicated as layers were added onto the trading situation. A single trade had low inherent risk; multiplied to millions of trades, the risk profile began to change. The more volatile the stock — in price and/or volume — the riskier a buy or sell became. Of course, the NSCC did not make these calculations by hand; they used sophisticated algorithms to digest the numerous inputs coming in from the trade — type of equity, volume, current volatility, where it fit into a brokerage's portfolio as a whole — and spit out a 'recommendation' of what sort of deposit would protect the trade. And this process was entirely automated; the brokerage house would continually run its trading activity through the federal clearing system and would receive its updated deposit requirements as often as every fifteen minutes while the market was open. Premarket during a trading week, that number would come in at 5:11 a.m. East Coast time, usually right as Jim, in Orlando, was finishing his morning coffee. Robinhood would then have until 10:00 a.m. to satisfy the deposit requirement for the upcoming day of trading — or risk being in default, which could lead to an immediate shutdown of all operations. Usually, the deposit requirement was tied closely to the actual dollars being 'spent' on the trades; a near equal number of buys and sells in a brokerage house's trading profile lowered its overall risk, and though volatility was common, especially in the past half-decade, even a two-day settlement period came with an acceptable level of confidence that nobody would fail to deliver on their trades.
Ben Mezrich (The Antisocial Network: The GameStop Short Squeeze and the Ragtag Group of Amateur Traders That Brought Wall Street to Its Knees)
Unfortunately, the Bull that gilded Renaissance New York did little for most Americans. Eighties Wall Street was about institutional money released by deregulation, mergers and acquisitions, and, most of all, the debt that made it all possible. As John Kenneth Galbraith points out, financial euphoria always starts with new ways to borrow money; this time it was triggered by the Savings & Loan crisis. Volcker’s rocketing interest rates had forced S&Ls to offer double digits to new depositors while only getting back single digits on the old thirty-year mortgages on their books. S&Ls were going under, and getting a mortgage was nearly impossible, so in March 1980, with the banking system and the housing market on the brink, Carter had signed a law to allow them to issue credit cards, invest in commercial real estate, and offer checking accounts in order to stay in business. Reagan then took it a step further with a change that encouraged S&Ls to sell their mortgages in search of higher returns, freeing up a $1 trillion that needed to be invested in something. Which takes us back to Salomon Brothers, where in 1978 one Lew Ranieri had repackaged an old investment product the government had clamped down on during the Depression: A group of home mortgages all backed by government insurance would be bundled together, then sliced into bonds, thus converting the debt some people owed on their homes into an asset for others. Ranieri had been a bit ahead of the curve then—the same high interest rates that killed the S&Ls also made his bonds unattractive—but now deregulation let Salomon buy up the S&Ls’ mortgages at a deep discount, bundle them into bonds, and sell them back to the S&Ls who believed they’d diversified into the bond market when in fact they’d just bought ground meat made out of their own steaks. In June 1983, Salomon Brothers and Freddie Mac together issued the first collateralized mortgage obligation bonds (CMOs), which bundled up debt and cut it into tranches based on the amount of risk: you could choose between ground chuck and ground sirloin. It would be years before technology would allow doing this on a huge scale, but the immediate impact was that all kinds of debt, not just mortgages, were bundled, cut into bonds, and sold: credit card debt, car loans, you name it. Between 1983 and 1988, some $60 billion of CMOs were sold; GM’s financing arm became more profitable than its cars. America began to make debt instead of things. The
Thomas Dyja (New York, New York, New York: Four Decades of Success, Excess, and Transformation)
give you an example. A bank gives some poor schmuck a mortgage at 100% the value of his property. No deposit. The bank sells the debt off to a larger bank in return for instant cash. The larger bank bundles up a hundred crappy mortgages like this and sells insurance policies for ten cents on the dollar – because their analysts tell them it’s a sure thing. They do this with thousands of loans. The mortgage securities market grows. Nothing can go wrong, right?
Nick Stephenson (Eight The Hard Way)
bank gives some poor schmuck a mortgage at 100% the value of his property. No deposit. The bank sells the debt off to a larger bank in return for instant cash. The larger bank bundles up a hundred crappy mortgages like this and sells insurance policies for ten cents on the dollar – because their analysts tell them it’s a sure thing. They do this with thousands of loans. The mortgage securities market grows. Nothing can go wrong, right?” “Until the homeowner can’t make his repayments.
Nick Stephenson (Paydown (Leopold Blake Thriller #0.5))
The fat, puffy, wattle-faced man of forty-five who has turned asexual is the greatest monument to futility that America has created. He’s a nymphomaniac of energy accomplishing nothing. He’s an hallucination of the Paleolithic man. He’s a statistical bundle of fat and jangled nerves for the insurance man to convert into a frightening thesis. He sows the land with prosperous, restless, empty-headed, idle-handed widows who gang together in ghoulish sororities where politics and diabetes go hand in hand.
Henry Miller (The Air-Conditioned Nightmare)