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The Bear's Lair: Index Credit Default Swaps and the Subprime Mortgage Crisis

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  • Richard Stanton
  • Nancy Wallace

Abstract

During the recent financial crisis, ABX.HE index credit default swaps (CDS) on baskets of mortgage-backed securities were a benchmark widely used by financial institutions to mark their subprime mortgage portfolios to market. However, we find that prices for the AAA ABX.HE index CDS during the crisis were inconsistent with any reasonable assumption for mortgage default rates, and that these price changes are only weakly correlated with observed changes in the credit performance of the underlying loans in the index, casting serious doubt on the suitability of these CDS as valuation benchmarks. We also find that the AAA ABX.HE index CDS price changes are related to short-sale activity for publicly traded investment banks with significant mortgage market exposure. This suggests that capital constraints, limiting the supply of mortgage-bond insurance, may be playing a role here similar to that identified by Froot (2001) in the market for catastrophe insurance. The Author 2011. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Society for Financial Studies. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com., Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard Stanton & Nancy Wallace, 2011. "The Bear's Lair: Index Credit Default Swaps and the Subprime Mortgage Crisis," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 24(10), pages 3250-3280.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:rfinst:v:24:y:2011:i:10:p:3250-3280
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/rfs/hhr073
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Efthymios G. Tsionas, 2014. "On modeling banking risk," Working Papers 183, Bank of Greece.
    2. Flavin, Thomas J. & Sheenan, Lisa, 2015. "The role of U.S. subprime mortgage-backed assets in propagating the crisis: Contagion or interdependence?," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 167-186.
    3. José Jorge, 2016. "Sovereign Ratings and Investor Behavior," CEF.UP Working Papers 1601, Universidade do Porto, Faculdade de Economia do Porto.
    4. Tsionas, Mike G., 2016. "Parameters measuring bank risk and their estimation," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 250(1), pages 291-304.
    5. Augustin, Patrick & Subrahmanyam, Marti G. & Tang, Dragon Yongjun & Wang, Sarah Qian, 2014. "Credit Default Swaps: A Survey," Foundations and Trends(R) in Finance, now publishers, vol. 9(1-2), pages 1-196, December.
    6. Beltratti, Andrea & Spear, Nasser & Szabo, Mark Daniel, 2013. "The Value Relevance and Timeliness of Write-downs During the Financial Crisis of 2007–2009," The International Journal of Accounting, Elsevier, vol. 48(4), pages 467-494.
    7. Rossen Valkanov & Andra Ghent, 2014. "Complexity in Structured Finance: Financial Wizardry or Smoke and Mirrors," 2014 Meeting Papers 104, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    8. Wojtowicz, Marcin, 2014. "CDOs and the financial crisis: Credit ratings and fair premia," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 1-13.
    9. Warren Bailey & Lin Zheng & Yinggang Zhou, 2012. "What Makes the VIX Tick?," Working Papers 222012, Hong Kong Institute for Monetary Research.
    10. Lahiani, Amine & Hammoudeh, Shawkat & Gupta, Rangan, 2016. "Linkages between financial sector CDS spreads and macroeconomic influence in a nonlinear setting," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 443-456.
    11. Beatty, Anne & Liao, Scott, 2014. "Financial accounting in the banking industry: A review of the empirical literature," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 339-383.
    12. Driessen, Joost & Van Hemert, Otto, 2012. "Pricing of commercial real estate securities during the 2007–2009 financial crisis," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 105(1), pages 37-61.

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