Wednesday, November 19, 2008

John Paulson on why he like sub prime

Excellent timing: Face to Face with John Paulson - Pensions & Investments
The beauty of shorting a bond is that the maximum you can lose is the spread over the benchmark; yet if the bond defaults, you can potentially make more. So it’s an asymmetrical risk-return tradeoff. In the case of subprime securities, we targeted the triple-B bonds, which are the lowest tranches in the subprime securitization.

In a typical securitization, you have 18 to 20 different tranches with the lowest … taking the first loss. The triple-B bond has about 5% subordination, meaning that if the loss is greater than 5%, the bond will be impaired. And if it’s more than 6%, the bond will be extinguished. The yield was only 1% over LIBOR (the London interbank offered rate) so by shorting this particular bond, if I was wrong, I could lose 1%, but if I was right, I could make 100%. The downside was very limited but it had very substantial upside, and we like those types of investments