Capital Markets

Subprime Losses Could Reach $400 Billion

A Deutsche Bank report predicts that eventually, 30-40 percent of subprime debt will default.
Stephen TaubNovember 12, 2007

Don’t expect fallout from the subprime credit crisis to ease anytime soon. Deutsche Bank told clients Monday that losses from the collapse in the value of subprime mortgage assets could range between $300 billion and $400 billion worldwide, Bloomberg reported.

Wall Street’s largest financial institutions alone could wind up writing down as much as $130 billion, according to the wire service, citing a report by Deutsche analyst Mike Mayo. The rest of the losses will come from smaller banks and investors in mortgage-related securities.

Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, and Morgan Stanley are the most notable among organizations that have already written down assets due to record U.S. foreclosures. So far, a total of $40 billion has been written down.

Meanwhile, also on Monday, Fitch Ratings downgraded $37.2 billion of structured finance collateralized debt obligations (CDOs), further underscoring the trouble in the credit markets. Fitch cited continued credit deterioration of the underlying collateral, as well as changes to its default forecasting assumptions.

“The updated assumptions reflect increased probabilities of default with respect to recent vintage subprime residential mortgage-backed securities and SF CDOs,” the ratings company stated in its report.

In his note, Deutsche’s Mayo estimated that about $1.2 trillion of the $10 trillion in outstanding U.S. home loans are considered to be subprime. He predicted that eventually, 30 to 40 percent of subprime debt will default, according to Bloomberg.

Mayo reportedly bases his predictions on “seat-of-the-pants” estimates using losses announced by the biggest securities firms. He figures banks and brokers may wind up writing off $60 billion to $70 billion this year, Bloomberg reported, adding that his estimate is based on known charges of $43 billion and expected additional losses of $25 billion.

To underscore the magnitude of the crisis, loss rates on about $200 billion of securities linked to subprime debt will run as high as 80 percent, according to Bloomberg’s account of Mayo’s report.