What is the right number of prime brokers in the Basel III new world order? This month’s essay addresses another unintended consequence of financial regulation: its impact on the risk reducing effects of the multi-prime model. Basel III and the new US bank regulations have prime brokers fixated on balance sheet usage and client ROA. The conventional wisdom being put forth by the prime brokers is that hedge funds should consolidate their financing balances across fewer primes to boost their returns (ROA). Besides being a self-serving argument it misses the point. I feel hedge funds should do exactly the opposite. First, let’s review the new math of Basel III.
Continuing on the theme of the unintended consequences from the new bank regulations we come to the recent, and increasing, exodus of senior players from the industry. It started with Mike Cavanaugh, the heir apparent to Jamie Dimon, (who is now recovering from throat cancer) leaving for a job in private equity. His reason? He couldn’t see his future in such a regulated industry. This was quickly followed by a large group of the senior ex-Lehman Barclays executives leaving. Same reasons. Now hardly a week goes by without another announcement of a senior banking executive leaving for a hedge fund, private equity or striking out to set up their own boutique investment advisory firm.
“The war is over. They won”. 
The impact of Basel III and Dodd-Frank on the banking industry is becoming clearer and it appears the government is getting what it wanted: a smaller, less risky and less leveraged banking system. Capital ratios, leverage and liquidity rules are all combining to constrain the size of the major banks. Throw in the Volker rule so banks can’t risk their own capital through prop trading and the picture is complete. However in the world of unintended consequences, to paraphrase the Rolling Stones, you can’t always get just what you want.
Pangaea Business Solutions announces the release of CP Accelerator. It is important that every hedge fund have a framework for managing counterparty risk. It must also be sized to your organization and your capacity. CP Acclerator is a quick, cost-effective way for a hedge fund to develop this initial framework for their counterparty risk management process. This product includes the following:
What follows isn’t going be quite as racy as the books (I hear) from which I paraphrase the title for this essay. However I will be offering up some suggestions to help you not get tied up by your counterparties. At times many people in the industry, myself included, tend to only view counterparty risk as some cataclysmic event like 2008. Markets in turmoil, banks failing or on the brink and a general global crisis. But the absence of such an environment or market condition does not mean an absence of counterparty risk – just an absence of that particular kind of counterparty risk.