Individual investors are not the only ones experiencing pains due to the frozen auction rate securities markets. First quarter earnings show that more than 400 companies held at least $30 billion in these investment products.
Since February, the $330 billion auction rate market has largely been frozen. Failed auctions continue even now, some four months later. Large companies are struggling with how to price their holdings. About half of the companies have written down the value of these securities. The average markdown was 13.2%.
Companies are now looking for ways to handle their lack of liquidity. Some are turning to secondary markets like Restricted Securities Trading Networks. RSTN has arranged 200 auction rate sales with discounts ranging from 2% – 30%.
About 25% of the $330 billion auction rate securities market has been bought back by municipalities or refinanced with new debt. The remaining are likely not worth their face value.