Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Those M*F* Risk Controls

A risk manager, naturally prone
To deny an improvident loan,
Heard the boss say: "We're wishin'
To cut this position;
Not that of the loan, but your own."

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Chief Risk Officer of MF Global found himself out of a job after he questioned that firm's big bet on European bonds, arranged by CEO Jon Corzine (pictured). CRO Michael Roseman had argued that the "repo to maturity" trades - in essence, leveraged long bets on treasury bonds of Italy and other sovereigns - could endanger the firm's capital if markets went strongly against them. Both privately and in front of the MF Global board, Mr. Corzine had responded that Mr. Roseman's dire scenarios were unlikely or even impossible. Eventually, Mr. Corzine is said to have grown annoyed with the CRO's persistence; whatever the reason, Mr. Roseman soon found himself assisting in the transition to his successor. Of course, soon afterward, his impossibly dire scenarios came true and the firm was bankrupt.

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