Friday, February 5, 2010

Which Horsey Will "Win" Default Derby First???

I've recently become a fan of this site.  Originally learned of it by way of Elizabeth Warren's connection and also seems this Adam Levitin gets quoted sometimes in the blogosphere.  Well Wednesday Stephen Lubben had a nice post there talking about CDS prices (specifically 5 year CDS prices).  I am a novice to this, and not very well educated on this specific topic (CDS).  But the way Lubben explains it, it seems kind of like a golf score.  The higher the number, it's got a bad meaning as far as the country or state's ability to pay all of its debts (more likely to default).  The lower the number means you have a better ability to pay off your debts (less likely to default).

Lubben points out that although Greece has gotten a lot of media attention for its relatively high chances of going into default, that France's CDS has declined (We say decline but the numbers themselves actually rise) more on a percentage basis this year (26.33 to 37.84).  Germany has also had a bigger percentage decline and of course Iceland is in shambles with 639.42.  California is between Lithuania and Greece, more likely to default than Lithuania and less likely than Greece.  California is at 327.
Lubben explains, and below I quote directly from his site, which gets the numbers from Bloomberg:

" all prices are for 5 year CDS and come from Bloomberg. CDS prices are in basis points, so that California's price suggests that one would have to pay 3.27% of the amount you want to buy protection against (or $3.27 for every $100 of protection)."

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