Credit Default Swaps: Rodents of Unusual Size

Buttercup: We’ll never succeed. We may as well die here.
Westley: No, no. We have already succeeded. I mean, what are the three terrors of the Fire Swamp? One, the flame spurt – no problem. There’s a popping sound preceding each; we can avoid that. Two, the lightning sand, which you were clever enough to discover what that looks like, so in the future we can avoid that too.
Buttercup: Westley, what about the R.O.U.S.’s?
Westley: Rodents Of Unusual Size? I don’t think they exist.
[Immediately, an R.O.U.S. attacks him]

– The Princess Bride  (1987)

ROUS I’m sure it’s just me, and you serious people feel free to skip over this as it’s a snapped-synapse aside, but every time I say "CDS’s" I hear "ROUS’s". While the former abbreviation refers to "credit default swaps", the latter, of course, is the abbreviation used in the movie The Princess Bride for the pesky Rodents of Unusual Size in the fire swamp.

The metaphor works for me, however, in more ways than the merely sonic. My belief (pace the recent Fortune article) is default swaps remain the dark matter of the current crisis. And just when we think the systemic risk is somewhat reduced (whatever that means when you’re on a precipice), having wandered through the subprime swamp, it will be ROUS’s, I mean CDS’s, that pop up and savagely attack.

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  2. Trading on Unusual Option Volume
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  4. Figuring Out the Impact of Default Likelihood on Default
  5. Quote du Jour: Rodents and Bailouts