Crisis point

Monolines

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The monoline insurance sector - once considered a cornerstone of the financial markets - is at crisis point. Having seen the value of their structured finance portfolios plunge on the back of the soaring US subprime mortgage delinquencies, causing hefty writedowns and a chronic erosion of their capital bases, some of the major guarantors are holding on to their AAA ratings by their fingertips.

It has forced some firms to consider what would have been unthinkable just months ago - an extensive re

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