Despite the lack of detailed information available to the public regarding the MF Global collapse, I don’t think it’s too early to make a few observations / predictions.
1. The money isn’t “missing”. There is no need to check the couch cushions. The $1.2 Billion — or whatever it turns out to be — was LOST by the proprietary trading division and all the laws put in place requiring segregation to protect customer funds from THIS VERY POSSIBILITY were broken in the process.
2. There were daily reports detailing the deterioration of the massive trade. This rumors of seriousness of the situation were swirling outside the firm as early as March — surely those intricately involved had detailed knowledge of how bad it was. A decision was made to keep going, past the point of no return. There was a point at which they could have exited this trade, quite likely losing all the firms capital but not a dime of segregated funds. They chose to start breaking the law instead.
3. The counter parties will be implicated. That is what I mean by the headline I chose. As taxpayers we did not bail out AIG — we bailed out their counter parties, including Goldman Sachs. With exchange-cleared trades the clearing house eliminates counter-party risk. Over the counter trades are a different animal. Counter-party risk is part of the package. That is why those particular bailouts were so immoral. The counter parties got the upside potential and we, the taxpayers absorbed the eventual loss. The counter parties picked the corpse of MF Global clean like a pack of hyenas.
4. Corzine knew. He’s going to jail.