Speaking of Magnetar, it was involved here, but the Times flat misses that connection. Yves Smith and Tom Adams heavily criticize that and other elements of the piece. Much of that criticism is way over the top, but the Magnetar aspect is indeed a serious miss:

A simple Google search of “Pyxis” and “CDO” turns up not only the Magnetar connection, provides links to deal lists (ours, recapping and adding to our discussion in ECONNED and ProPublica’s), which show that there was not one Pyxis deal, as the story suggests, but two, a Pyxis 2006-1, issued in October, 2006 with Calyon as the underwriter (that deal is not the subject of this article), and the deal in which Merrill provided assets, Pyxis 2007-1, issued in March 2007, with Lehman as the underwriter. She also fails to mention Putnam, the CDO manager for the Pyxis deals, anywhere in the story or indicate that Magnetar’s CDO deals were being put together by an analyst they hired from Putnam.

(UPDATE: Felix Salmon points out that the Magnetar connection isn’t there. There were similarly named CDOs that had nothing to do with Merrill’s off-balance-sheet doings.)

I imagine there’s more thread to be pulled on this one. It’s good, if not exactly confidence-inducing, to hear that the SEC is investigating this stuff. I won’t hold my breath. But where’s the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission on this?


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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu. Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.