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An analysis of government guarantees and the functioning of asset-backed securities markets

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  • Diana Hancock
  • Wayne Passmore

Abstract

Mortgage securitization has been tried several times in the United States and each time it has failed amid a credit bust. In what is now a familiar recurring history, during the credit boom, underwriting standards are violated and guarantees are inadequately funded; subsequently, defaults increase and investors in mortgage-backed securities attempt to dump their investments. ; We focus on a specific market failure associated with asset-backed securitization and propose a tailored government remedy. Our analysis of loan market equilibriums shows that the additional liquidity provided by securitization may (or may not) lower primary loan rates, but such liquidity comes at a cost. More specifically, if guarantee-sensitive investors doubt the credit quality of asset-backed bonds, significant risk premiums can develop. If a financial crisis ensues, securitization can disappear from the market entirely, leaving banks that originate just the highest quality loans as the only source of credit. This abrupt increase in lending standards can tighten credit, exacerbate asset price declines, and impinge on economic growth. ; We argue that an institutional structure for stemming "runs," analogous to the current set up for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, could be deployed to insure pre-specified asset-backed instruments. Such an insurer would likely benefit from the accumulated information and infrastructure that is embodied in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Hence, the provision of federally-backed catastrophic insurance could provide a rationale for restructuring the housing-related GSEs towards a public purpose. Regardless of its institutional structure, a federally-backed catastrophic bond insurer would provide greater financial stability and ensure credit is provided at reasonable cost both in times of prosperity and during downturns. Moreover, the explicit pricing of the government-backed guarantee would mitigate the market distortions that have been created by implicit government guarantees during prosperity.

Suggested Citation

  • Diana Hancock & Wayne Passmore, 2010. "An analysis of government guarantees and the functioning of asset-backed securities markets," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2010-46, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2010-46
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Hancock, Diana & Passmore, Wayne, 2011. "Did the Federal Reserve's MBS purchase program lower mortgage rates?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(5), pages 498-514.
    2. Dwight Jaffee & John M. Quigley, 2012. "The Future of the Government-Sponsored Enterprises: The Role for Government in the U.S. Mortgage Market," NBER Chapters,in: Housing and the Financial Crisis, pages 361-417 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Dufour, Alfonso & Stancu, Andrei & Varotto, Simone, 2017. "The equity-like behaviour of sovereign bonds," Journal of International Financial Markets, Institutions and Money, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 25-46.
    4. W. Scott Frame & Larry D. Wall & Lawrence J. White, 2012. "The devil's in the tail: residential mortgage finance and the U.S. Treasury," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2012-12, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    5. Poitras, Geoffrey & Zanotti, Giovanna, 2016. "Mortgage contract design and systemic risk immunization," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 320-331.
    6. Nathan Foley-Fisher & Eoin McLaughlin, 2014. "State dissolution, sovereign debt and default:Lessons from the UK and Ireland, 1920-1938," Working Papers 0061, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    7. Foley-Fisher, Nathan & McLaughlin, Eoin, 2016. "Sovereign debt guarantees and default: Lessons from the UK and Ireland, 1920–1938," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 272-286.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Mortgage-backed securities ; Government-sponsored enterprises;

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