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Securitization and moral hazard: evidence from credit score cutoff rules

  • Ryan Bubb
  • Alex Kaufman
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    Mortgage originators use credit score cutoff rules to determine how carefully to screen loan applicants. Recent research has hypothesized that these cutoff rules result from a securitization rule of thumb. Under this theory, an observed jump in defaults at the cutoff would imply that securitization led to lax screening. We argue instead that originators adopted credit score cutoff rules in response to underwriting guidelines from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and offer a simple model that rationalizes such an origination rule of thumb. Under this alternative theory, jumps in default are not evidence that securitization caused lax screening. We examine loan-level data and find that the evidence is inconsistent with the securitization rule-of-thumb theory but consistent with the origination rule-of-thumb theory. There are jumps in the number of loans and in their default rate at credit score cutoffs in the absence of corresponding jumps in the securitization rate. We conclude that credit score cutoff rules provide evidence that large securitizers were to some extent able to regulate originators' screening behavior.

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    Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in its series Public Policy Discussion Paper with number 11-6.

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    Date of creation: 2011
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbpp:11-6
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    1. Benjamin J. Keys & Tanmoy Mukherjee & Amit Seru & Vikrant Vig, 2010. "Did Securitization Lead to Lax Screening? Evidence from Subprime Loans," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(1), pages 307-362.
    2. Manuel Adelino & Kristopher S. Gerardi & Paul S. Willen, 2009. "Why don't lenders renegotiate more home mortgages? redefaults, self-cures, and securitization," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2009-17, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    3. Keys, Benjamin J. & Mukherjee, Tanmoy & Seru, Amit & Vig, Vikrant, 2009. "Financial regulation and securitization: Evidence from subprime loans," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(5), pages 700-720, July.
    4. Paul S. Willen & Adam Hale Shapiro & Kristopher Gerardi, 2008. "Subprime Outcomes: Risky Mortgages, Homeownership Experiences, and Foreclosures," 2008 Meeting Papers 345, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    5. Piskorski, Tomasz & Seru, Amit & Vig, Vikrant, 2010. "Securitization and distressed loan renegotiation: Evidence from the subprime mortgage crisis," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(3), pages 369-397, September.
    6. Imbens, Guido W. & Lemieux, Thomas, 2008. "Regression discontinuity designs: A guide to practice," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 615-635, February.
    7. John Krainer & Elizabeth Laderman, 2009. "Mortgage loan securitization and relative loan performance," Working Paper Series 2009-22, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
    8. McCrary, Justin, 2008. "Manipulation of the running variable in the regression discontinuity design: A density test," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 698-714, February.
    9. repec:oup:rfinst:v:25:y::i:7:p:2071-2108 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Ryan Bubb & Alex Kaufman, 2011. "Further investigations into the origin of credit score cutoff rules," Working Papers 11-12, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
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