More banks Friday reported losses from their dealings with a huge speculative fund that nearly collapsed this week, as new details emerged about the firm's final days.
Meanwhile, in a new sign that the crisis surrounding the fund has alarmed Washington, Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin announced after the markets closed that the U.S. government agencies responsible for supervising financial markets will prepare a study of such funds, known as hedge funds, and "their relationships with their creditors."
Republicans on Capitol Hill also said they would invite Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan to testify at hearings on hedge funds that will be held sometime in the next two weeks.
Greenspan recently told Rep. Richard Baker, R-La., chairman of the House Banking subcommittee on capital markets, at a hearing that hedge funds are "very strongly regulated" by the bankers who lend them money and no new government action was needed. But Rubin said lawmakers should consider taking a closer look, Baker said.
Consumer activist Ralph Nader told Senate Banking committee leaders the hedge fund debacle shows that the Senate should slow its action on sweeping legislation to lift Depression-era barriers between banks, brokerage firms and insurance companies.
Germany's third-largest bank, Dresdner bank AG, said it would lose about $144 million on its investment in Long-Term Capital Management L.P., the Greenwich, Conn., investment fund that had placed about $100 billion in bets in financial markets around the globe.
Switzerland's Credit Suisse Group said it expected to write off $55 million.
On Thursday, UBS AG of Switzerland reported a write-off of $685 million from its investment in Long-Term Capital.
With prodding by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, a consortium of 14 banks and investment houses agreed to chip in more than $3.5 billion to rescue the hedge-fund company.
Long-Term Capital had wagered billions of dollars on complex trades that, at their peak early in the year, involved about $160 billion worth of securities, including everything from Danish mortgages to Russian debt. But the fund had never lost more than $100 million, or 2 percent of its equity, in a single month since it was established in 1994, a source close to the fund said.
Then it hit the tumultuous markets of August. On Aug. 1, Long-Term Capital had $4.1 billion in equity. Over the next 54 days it lost $3.5 billion as financial markets moved in directions never predicted by the fund's computer models, according to the source.
On Sept. 18, the fund's capital was down to $1.5 billion, the source said. On the night the rescue deal was announced -- just five days later -- only $600 million in capital remained.
Merrill Lynch, which was one of the biggest investors in Long-Term Capital and which has marketed the fund to many of its best clients, tried to calm concerns among its own employees. It said in a memo Friday that its participation in the consortium was not motivated by a concern about losses that Merrill itself would face if Long-Term were forced to liquidate. "In fact, our current exposure is fully collateralized, mainly by cash and U.S. Treasuries," the memo reads.
Nevertheless, the volatile markets -- and their impact on securities firms' business -- prompted Standard & Poor's to warn Friday that it may lower the debt ratings on several Wall Street firms in the coming months. S&P said that Lehman Brothers Holdings senior debt may be downgraded, while it revised to negative the outlook for the ratings of Goldman Sachs & Co., Merrill Lynch, Bear Stearns and Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette.
Meanwhile, debate continued about the propriety of the bailout and the role of the New York Fed in bringing it about.
The deal, which bolstered Long-Term's capital to over $4 billion, amounts to a takeover of the fund by its creditors, but there were more complaints Friday that the Fed shouldn't have been involved in arranging the recapitalization of a private, unregulated hedge fund for wealthy individuals and big institutions.