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Are All Ratings Created Equal? The Impact of Issuer Size on the Pricing of Mortgage-backed Securities

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  • Jie (Jack) He
  • Jun 'QJ' Qian
  • Philip E. Strahan
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    Abstract

    We examine whether rating agencies (Moody’s, S&P, and Fitch) reward large issuers of mortgage-backed securities, who bring substantial business, by granting them unduly favorable ratings. The initial yield on both AAA-rated and non-AAA rated tranches sold by large issuers is higher than that on similar tranches sold by small issuers during the market boom years of 2004-2006. Moreover, the prices of MBS sold by large issuers drop more than those sold by small issuers, and the differences are concentrated among tranches issued during 2004-2006. We conclude that large issuers receive more favorable ratings and that the market prices the risk of inflated ratings, especially during booming periods.

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    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17238.

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    Date of creation: Jul 2011
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    Publication status: published as A RE ALL R ATINGS C REATED E QUAL ? T HE I MPACT OF I SSUER S IZE ON THE P RICING OF M ORTGAGE -B ACKED S ECURITIES , 2012, Journal of Finance 67(6), 2097-2138, with Jie He and Jun Qian.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17238

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    1. Becker, Bo & Milbourn, Todd, 2011. "How did increased competition affect credit ratings?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 101(3), pages 493-514, September.
    2. Ashcraft, A. & Goldsmith-Pinkham, P. & Vickery, J., 2010. "MBS Ratings and the Mortgage Credit Boom," Discussion Paper 2010-89S, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    3. Viral V. Acharya & Philipp Schnabl & Gustavo Suarez, 2010. "Securitization without risk transfer," NBER Working Papers 15730, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Bar-Isaac, Heski & Shapiro, Joel, 2013. "Ratings quality over the business cycle," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(1), pages 62-78.
    5. Adam B. Ashcraft & Til Schuermann, 2008. "Understanding the securitization of subprime mortgage credit," Staff Reports 318, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    6. Benmelech, Efraim & Dlugosz, Jennifer, 2009. "The alchemy of CDO credit ratings," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(5), pages 617-634, July.
    7. William P. Alexander & Scott D. Grimshaw & Grant R. McQueen & Barrett A. Slade, 2002. "Some Loans Are More Equal than Others: Third-Party Originations and Defaults in the Subprime Mortgage Industry," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 30(4), pages 667-697.
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