Thursday, February 17, 2011

What is a Ninth Wave?

For fun and nostalgia, a brief look at the legend Jay Brown mentioned in MBIA's 2008 Annual Report:

"Every so often, a giant wave comes along that either sweeps you under and annihilates you, or through skill and vision you successfully ride the wave farther than you’ve ever gone before."

So how might it manifest for the industry or company if at all?

In the financial guaranty industry, a ninth wave might convey the industry to a presence in structured finance that it once enjoyed in public finance. That might come from recovery success unmatched by uninsured investors. Allstate's progress suggests that recoveries might be matched by some but few uninsured investors.

A ninth wave might also manifest in the form of some proposed GSE reform (mentioned in a look at alternative bond insurance business models here) or just returns to prescient investors.

Whatever type of recovery the ninth wave brings, it will not be as fast as the onset of the storm. Crashes are quick, and recoveries are long. Nonetheless, this was not a normal storm. The resurgence of bond insurance will surprise people. Or in the case of Assured Guaranty, the persistent presence on the new issue calendar, despite downgrades and huge rating uncertainty, is surprising to those that understood the industry as selling a AAA rating.

The once-called "lynchpin of the global financial system" will continue to surprise all of us, maybe even Jay and Dominic.

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