Monday, November 05, 2007

Level 3 Assets

Citigroup has a lot of them.

I haven't quite managed to get my brain around this completely, but in all of this there seems to be this inability to understand the difference between accounting and reality. Obviously crooked accounting can be used to obscure reality, and sometimes the norms of accounting might not provide an accurate picture of reality even if there's no deception intended, but nonetheless there is some underlying reality there.

I guess the point is that the inability to put reasonable estimates on the value of this stuff isn't simply due to an inability to account for them accurately due to the fact that they don't trade enough to have a genuine market price. Whoever loaded up on these piles of shit should have some knowledge of just what is contained in them. Even if the "market" isn't much interested in trading in these things because there's a lack of transparency, someone should be able to make a reasonable guess about what kind of revenue streams can be reasonably expected from them.

Unless, of course, no one has any clue what these pieces of paper represent. And that seems to be where we are.