Gee, this sounds strangely - and disturbingly- familiar.....as the coda to 'The Big Short' notes, even as the dust was settling from the GFC, banks already were exploring the sale of CDOs under different names like "bespoke debt tranche instruments." History may not repeat, but it sure does rhyme, which also suggests the WSJ is being somewhat disingenuous in calling this a 'new' thing.Big Banks Cook Up New Way to Unload Risk
Banks are selling risk to hedge funds, private-equity firms through so-called synthetic risk transfers
U.S. banks have found a new way to unload risk as they scramble to adapt to tighter regulations and rising interest rates.
U.S. Bank and others are selling complex debt instruments to private-fund managers
as a way to reduce regulatory capital charges on the loans they make, people familiar with the transactions said.
These so-called synthetic risk transfers
are expensive for banks but less costly than taking the full capital charges on the underlying assets. They are lucrative for the investors, who can typically get returns of around 15% or more, according to the people familiar with the transactions.
< - >The deals function somewhat like an insurance policy
, with the banks paying interest instead of premiums. By lowering potential loss exposure, the transfers reduce the amount of capital banks are required to hold against their loans
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Banks started using synthetic risk transfers about 20 years ago, but they were rarely used in the U.S. after the 2008-09 financial crisis.
Complex credit transactions became harder to get past U.S. bank regulators, in part because similar instruments called credit-default swaps amplified contagion when Lehman Brothers failed.
Regulators in Europe and Canada set clear guidelines for the use of synthetic risk transfers after the crisis. They also set higher capital charges in rules known as Basel III, prompting European and Canadian banks to start using synthetic risk transfers regularly.
U.S. regulations have been more conservative. Around 2020, the Federal Reserve declined requests for capital relief from U.S. banks that wanted to use a type of synthetic risk transfer commonly used in Europe. The Fed determined they didn’t meet the letter of its rules.
< - >https://www.wsj.com/finance/banking/bank-synthetic-risk-transfers-basel-endgame-62410f6c