On April 16th 2008, the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, Inc. ("ISDA") released the results of its Year-End 2007 Market Survey of privately negotiated derivatives. In that report, IDSA reports "The notional amount outstanding of credit default swaps (CDS) grew 37 percent to $62.2 trillion in the second half of 2007 from $45.5 trillion at mid-year. Further CDS notional growth for the whole of 2007 was 81 percent from $34.5 trillion at year-end 2006. The survey monitors credit default swaps on single names and obligations, baskets and portfolios of credits and index trades." [Emphasis added]
Holy crap! No wonder there was so much concern about counter-party risk a month ago when a "run on the bank" which led to the acquisition of Bear Stearns by JPMorgan. Toomre Capital Markets LLC ("TCM") now even more appreciates the efforts of the President of New York Federal Reserve, Timothy Geithner, to clean up the credit default swap middle and back office operational issues. With growth this explosive, the major investment and global banks are particularly interconnected. From a moral hazard perspective, due to their derivatives exposures, are not all of these banks "too big to fail"? Or does this explosive growth suggest that the Capital Markets finally needs a global clearing mechanism so that there is more price transparency on what specific derivatives are worth and that there is less counter-party risk in the financial system?