Posted: May 25th, 2022
Repo 105 and Lehman Brothers
Banks utilize the repo market all the time in their daily business. It is essentially a manner in which they borrow capital from large businesses that have spare money they can lend. In order to make the loan more secure for the big business, the bank sells them something like a bond. Under this method, if the bank goes under prior to repaying the loan, the large business can sell the asset and recoup its money. Included in this kind of arrangement, the bank concurs to purchase back the asset at the end of the agreement, less a little amount that the business gets to retain as interest. Repo is short for repurchase. The arrangements are short tenure and the bank frequently purchases back the bond just a few days subsequent to selling it (Goldstein, 2011).
Everyone realizes that the bank isn’t actually selling the asset to the big business, it’s actually borrowing capital. So in regards to accounting rules, the capital a bank utilizes in repo arrangements remain on the bank’s balance sheet. But when Lehman Brothers desired to make it look like it wasn’t borrowing so much capital, the company utilized a unique method to circumvent this regulation. It did repo deals where it took somewhat less money than the asset was valued at. For instance: if Lehman possessed a bond that was valued at one hundred and five, it would sell it on the repo market for one hundred dollars. The 105 in Repo 105 refers to the detail that the capital had a value at least one hundred and five percent of what Lehman was getting for them (Goldstein, 2011).
This gap permitted the business to verify the operation as if it had been a real sale of the bond; in spite of the reality that, under the accord, the business would repurchase the bond just a week after it had sold it. Lehman would take the cash it got from selling the bond and pay off some of its liabilities. Then, following that it had put out its quarterly statement, the business would borrow more cash to buy back the asset. Lehman went large on this system. “In the second quarter of 2008 it utilized Repo 105 to move $50 billion off of its balance sheet. Lehman did not reveal its utilization of Repo 105 to the Government, to the rating agencies, to its stakeholders, or to its own board” (Goldstein, 2011). One senior representative inside the company cautioned that the use of Repo 105 would present great danger to the company if the public ever found out (Goldstein, 2011).
Lehman used these off-balance sheet strategies in order to briefly remove securities accounts from its balance sheet, typically for a timeframe of 7 to 10 days, and to make a significantly deceptive depiction of the firm’s monetary circumstances. These Repo 105 transactions were almost the same as normal buy back and resale dealings that Lehman along with other banks utilized to get short tenure economics, with a vital dissimilarity – Lehman accounted for Repo 105 dealings as sales instead of financing dealings based upon the overcollateralization or higher than usual losses in Repo 105 dealings. By re-characterizing the Repo 105 dealing as a sale, Lehman detached the account from its balance sheet (Durden, 2010).
Lehman frequently augmented its utilization of Repo 105 transactions in the time previous to reporting interludes to decrease its openly reported net leverage and balance sheet. Lehman’s intermittent reports did not reveal the money borrowing from the Repo 105 transaction, even though Lehman had in reality borrowed tens of billions of dollars in these dealings, Lehman did not reveal the acknowledged responsibility to pay back the liabilities. Lehman utilized the money from the Repo 105 dealings to pay off other dangers, thus dropping both the entire debts and the entire assets accounted for on its balance sheet and decreasing its power percentages. Therefore, Lehman’s Repo 105 dealing was made up of a two-fold procedure: performing Repo 105 dealings followed by the utilization of Repo 105 cash borrowings to pay down debts, thus decreasing power (Durden, 2010).
Lehman never openly revealed its utilization of Repo 105 dealings, its bookkeeping conduct for these dealings, the substantial growth of its overall Repo 105 utilization in late 2007 and into 2008, or the substance force these dealings had on the organization’s openly accounted for net power percentage. A careful evaluation of Lehman’s financial records would not disclose Lehman’s utilization of Repo 105 dealings. Lehman fell short to reveal its Repo 105 practice. In addition to its substance oversights, Lehman positively distorted in its financial statements that the company saw all repo dealings as financing business, not sales for financial treatment reasons (Durden, 2010).
In the beginning it was disputed that Lehman’s bookkeeping behavior of the Repo 105 dealing obeyed the then-present Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. It was only well after an audit and Lehman’s bankruptcy, did the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) come out with amended accounting standards necessitating revelation of such dealings on a potential foundation. Throughout 2007 and 2008, when the Repo 105 dealing took place, organizations were not mandated to make any precise revelations about repo dealings accounted for as sales. Even if Lehman’s use of Repo 105 dealings in principle obeyed with [FAS] 140, financial statements may be substantially deceptive even when they do not defy GAAP. There is no realistic or lawful foundation for an allegation to be brought against an auditor in this background where the accounting for the fundamental deal is in agreement with the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (Jones, 2010).
It is obvious that Lehman Brothers did not operate in an ethical way but technically they did not violate the GAAP at the time. This is unfortunately the way that a lot of rules end up being changed. They are put into place on way and then when they are utilized in a way that does not appear to be right then the rules are later changed in order to make such action wrong.
Durden, Tyler. (2010). The “Repo 105” Scam: How Lehman Fooled Everyone (Including
Allegedly Dick Fuld) and How Other Banks Are Likely Doing This Right Now. Retreived
April 10, 2011, from Web site: http://www.zerohedge.com/article/repo-105-scam-how-lehman-fooled-everyone-including-allegedly-dick-fuld-and-how-other-banks-a
Goldstein, Jacob. (2011). Repo 105: Lehman’s ‘Accounting Gimmick’ Explained. Retreived April
10, 2011, from Web site:
Jones, Ashby. (2010). Good With GAAP: A Preview of Ernst & Young’s Legal Defense?
Retreived April 10, 2011, from Web site: http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2010/12/22/good-with-gaap-a-preview-of-ernst-youngs-legal-defense/
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