Although the subprime meltdown seems to have been going on forever, it’s only since the beginning of 2007 that many companies have been taking impossibly huge writeoffs.
Much of this information has come out piecemeal over a few quarters, so it’s been like a painfully slow ooze. This makes it difficult to get one’s hands around the overall damage that has occurred.
Fortunately, there’s always the New York Times to come to the rescue with information like this, and on April 22 the Times published a story with a chart (based on data from Bloomberg) that showed the 16 companies with the largest subprime losses and write-downs since the beginning of 2007.
The total for these 16 firms is just shy of $219 billion.
Granted, this amount of money is paltry compared to most of the budget deficits the Bush administration has managed to accumulate. But in most people’s books it is a lot of money. And not to put too fine a point on it, it’s a lot of money to lose.
At the top of the pile, towering like Mt. Everest, is Citigroup with losses/write-downs of $40.9 billion since the beginning of ’07. Right behind, kind of like K-2 to Citi’s Everest, is UBS with $38 billion. Merrill Lynch comes in third with $31.7 billion and then the amounts fall off sharply, with Bank of America in 4th place on the loss/write-down list with (only!) $14.9 billion.
The list goes on and on: Morgan Stanley, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase, IKB Deutsche, Washington Mutual, Deutsche Bank, Wachovia, Cr?dit Agricole, Cr?dit Suisse, Mizuho Financial Group, Canadian Imperial, Soci?t? G?n?rale.
Now, as denizens of the world of insurance, does anything about this list reach out and grab you by the lapels or hit you right between the eyes?