By James Kwak
ProPublica has a long and detailed story of Magnetar, the hedge fund that helped fuel the subprime bubble by providing the equity for new subprime collateralized debt obligations — precisely so that it could then go and short the higher-rated tranches. In other words, Magnetar wanted to short some really, really toxic CDOs. But either there weren’t enough toxic CDOs to short, or they weren’t toxic enough. So they provided the equity necessary to manufacture more toxic CDOs. Then they shorted them. Yes, the math works out.
Yves Smith told the story of Magnetar in her book ECONned. The ProPublica story adds a bunch of details. But the best part is that This American Life is doing a story on Magnetar in this weekend’s radio show, which I’m sure will be great.