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Asymmetric Information and the Death of ABS CDOs


  • Beltran, Daniel O.
  • Cordell, Lawrence R.
  • Thomas, Charles P.


A key feature of the 2007 financial crisis is that for many securities trading had ceased; where trading did occur, market prices were well below intrinsic values, especially for ABS CDOs. One explanation is that information had been asymmetric, with sellers having better information than buyers. We first show the information advantages sellers had over buyers in both the issuance of CDOs and, through vertical integration, performance of the CDO collateral that could well have disrupted trading after the onset of the crisis. Using a “workhorse" model for pricing securities under asymmetric information and a novel dataset, we show how adverse selection could explain why the bulk of these securities either traded at significant discounts or did not trade at all.

Suggested Citation

  • Beltran, Daniel O. & Cordell, Lawrence R. & Thomas, Charles P., 2013. "Asymmetric Information and the Death of ABS CDOs," International Finance Discussion Papers 1075, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), revised 16 Nov 2016.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgif:1075 DOI: 10.17016/IFDP.2016.1075r

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Daniel Covitz & Nellie Liang & Gustavo A. Suarez, 2013. "The Evolution of a Financial Crisis: Collapse of the Asset-Backed Commercial Paper Market," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 68(3), pages 815-848, June.
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    3. Gary Gorton, 2009. "Information, Liquidity, and the (Ongoing) Panic of 2007," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 567-572, May.
    4. Peter M. DeMarzo, 2005. "The Pooling and Tranching of Securities: A Model of Informed Intermediation," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 18(1), pages 1-35.
    5. Gorton, Gary & Metrick, Andrew, 2012. "Securitized banking and the run on repo," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 104(3), pages 425-451.
    6. Kristopher Gerardi & Andreas Lehnert & Shane M. Sherlund & Paul Willen, 2008. "Making Sense of the Subprime Crisis," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 39(2 (Fall)), pages 69-159.
    7. Adrian, Tobias & Shin, Hyun Song, 2010. "Liquidity and leverage," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 418-437, July.
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    10. George A. Akerlof, 1970. "The Market for "Lemons": Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500.
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    Cited by:

    1. Caccioli, Fabio & Shrestha, Munik & Moore, Cristopher & Farmer, J. Doyne, 2014. "Stability analysis of financial contagion due to overlapping portfolios," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 233-245.
    2. House, Christopher L. & Masatlioglu, Yusufcan, 2015. "Managing markets for toxic assets," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 84-99.
    3. Broer, Tobias, 2016. "Securitisation Bubbles: Structured finance with disagreement about default correlations," CEPR Discussion Papers 11145, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Svatopluk Kapounek, 2017. "The Impact of Institutional Quality on Bank Lending Activity: Evidence from Bayesian Model Averaging," Czech Journal of Economics and Finance (Finance a uver), Charles University Prague, Faculty of Social Sciences, vol. 67(5), pages 372-395, October.

    More about this item


    CDO; Securitization; Asymmetric; Lemons;

    JEL classification:

    • C63 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Computational Techniques
    • D43 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Oligopoly and Other Forms of Market Imperfection
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design

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