Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What comes around goes around

Herstatt Bank went bust in 1974. I was at primary school so I don’t remember. It’s a famous bank bust because it gave its name to time zone risk usually referred to as Herstatt risk.

The problem was that Herstatt received irrevocable payments of Deutsch Marks in the German time zone against a delivery of US Dollars in New York later the same day. Herstatt failed between acceptance and delivery.

The German failure triggered losses around the world.

Well what comes around goes around. It appears that KfW – a German government owned lender – transferred Euro 300 million to Lehman on the day of its bankruptcy.

It was very kind of the German taxpayer to contribute so much for the benefit of Lehman creditors! Far more than the US taxpayer did...

34 years is a long time for pay-back. But pay-back came.

John Hempton


Anonymous said...

you may be interested in these links on herstatt risk.

Anonymous said...

I'm not so sure the US taxpayers didn't get off the hook, here's a story from The Independent (which I've seen elsewhere):

JPMorgan advanced Lehman 87 billion dollars (£48.3bn) when the market opened on Monday, acting in part on a request by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The New York Fed later repaid JPMorgan that amount. Yesterday, JPMorgan advanced another 51 billion dollars (£28.3bn).

Aig said...

Great note! I thought that business management is a rational endeavour until I got exposure to it myself ... funny/crazy/stupid things happen very often ... even when as if smart and good persons are involved ....

The only thing that makes this case distinct is the amount :)

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