The Economics of Structured Finance
This paper investigates the spectacular rise and fall of structured finance. The essence of structured finance activities is the pooling of economic assets like loans, bonds, and mortgages, and the subsequent issuance of a prioritized capital structure of claims, known as tranches, against these collateral pools. As a result of the prioritization scheme used in structuring claims, many of the manufactured tranches are far safer than the average asset in the underlying pool. This ability of structured finance to repackage risks and to create "safe" assets from otherwise risky collateral led to a dramatic expansion in the issuance of structured securities, most of which were viewed by investors to be virtually risk-free and certified as such by the rating agencies. At the core of the recent financial market crisis has been the discovery that these securities are actually far riskier than originally advertised. We examine how the process of securitization allowed trillions of dollars of risky assets to be transformed into securities that were widely considered to be safe. We highlight two features of structured finance products - the extreme fragility of their ratings to modest imprecision in evaluating underlying risks, and their exposure to systematic risks - that go a long way in explaining the spectacular rise and fall of structured finance. We conclude with an assessment of what went wrong and the relative importance of rating agency errors, investor credulity, and perverse incentives and suspect behavior on the part of issuers, rating agencies, and borrowers.
Volume (Year): 23 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 (Winter)
|Contact details of provider:|| Web page: https://www.aeaweb.org/jep/|
More information through EDIRC
|Order Information:||Web: https://www.aeaweb.org/subscribe.html|
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Katz, Steven, 1974. "The Price Adjustment Process of Bonds to Rating Reclassifications: A Test of Bond Market Efficiency," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 29(2), pages 551-59, May.
- Jorion, Philippe & Zhang, Gaiyan, 2007. "Good and bad credit contagion: Evidence from credit default swaps," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(3), pages 860-883, June.
- Ederington, Louis H. & Goh, Jeremy C., 1998. "Bond Rating Agencies and Stock Analysts: Who Knows What When?," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 33(04), pages 569-585, December.
- Holthausen, Robert W. & Leftwich, Richard W., 1986. "The effect of bond rating changes on common stock prices," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 57-89, September.
- Merton, Robert C., 1973.
"On the pricing of corporate debt: the risk structure of interest rates,"
684-73., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
- Merton, Robert C, 1974. "On the Pricing of Corporate Debt: The Risk Structure of Interest Rates," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 29(2), pages 449-70, May.
- Hand, John R M & Holthausen, Robert W & Leftwich, Richard W, 1992. " The Effect of Bond Rating Agency Announcements on Bond and Stock Prices," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 47(2), pages 733-52, June.
- Hull, John & Predescu, Mirela & White, Alan, 2004. "The relationship between credit default swap spreads, bond yields, and credit rating announcements," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 28(11), pages 2789-2811, November.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:23:y:2009:i:1:p:3-25. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Jane Voros)or (Michael P. Albert)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.