How Non-Recourse Debt Can Be Safe and Recourse Debt Can Be Dangerousby Seth Klarman
Leverage does not have to be dangerous. Non-recourse debt on an asset can serve to make a large purchase more affordable. Taking out a non-recourse loan on an already owned asset can actually reduce risk, since the borrowed funds become yours, while the risk of loss is transferred to the lender. But recourse debt is something else entirely. If you purchase some investments, and then borrow with recourse debt to buy more, you are now vulnerable to mark to market losses in what you own. Depending on the precise terms of the debt, a decline in the value of your holdings could force you either to put up more collateral--which you may not have--or to sell off some of the investments you purportedly like to meet margin calls. By borrowing, you have ceased to be the master of your own fate and allowed the lender--or actually the market--to be.