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Retirement Planning > Social Security

Fed Reports Steep Losses On AIG Securities

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WASHINGTON–The Federal Reserve Board suffered paper losses of almost $9 billion, or 19% , in the first quarter of 2009 on risky securities it took over from American International Group Inc. last year.

The data was disclosed in a new monthly report the agency is releasing on the value of assets it has acquired from troubled corporations as part of its efforts to shore up the economy.

These securities are being held in facilities known as Maiden Lane II and III by the New York Federal Reserve Bank. Maiden Lane is a small street next to the New York Fed’s offices.

The Fed purchased the securities from AIG, New York, as part of its effort to prop up the company’s s balance sheet and reduce its need for cash to collateralize its extensive but loss-ridden securities lending operations.

The securities are appraised at fair value, because the Fed plans to hold them to maturity in hopes they will ultimately be worth their face value.

The value of the AIG securities, primarily residential mortgage-backed bonds of various types owned by its life insurance units and taken over by the Fed late last year, dropped 14%, according to the report.

They are being held in the Maiden Lane II facility under an arrangement completed last December. Under the deal, the Fed and AIG both have an equity interest in the facility, but most of the gains will accrue to the Fed when they are sold.

These instruments ranged from AAA-rated bonds to MBSs backed by subprime loans. They were purchased by AIG’s securities trading unit and collateralized by highly-rated bonds, such as Treasury securities held by AIG’s various life insurance subsidiaries.

The Fed acquired them last December as part of an effort to close down AIG’s securities lending unit. They had a fair value of $19.9 billion as of Dec. 31, declining to $16.7 billion as of March 31, according to the Fed report.

The losses from securities the Fed acquired from AIG’s infamous financial products unit and housed in what is known as Maiden Lane III were even steeper.

The fair value of these securities had been $27 billion as of Dec. 31, dropping to $20.7 billion by March 31, or 23.5%, the Fed said.

The heaviest losses were in so-called “high grade” asset-backed securities. These were valued at $18.8 billion as of Dec. 31, a value that had declined to $13.6 billion, or 28%, by March 31, according to the Fed report.

In the report, issued by the Federal Reserve board Wednesday, the agency argued that its actual losses for the quarter were lower because it deducted the interest it received from the securities from the decline in fair value.


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