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MBS ratings and the mortgage credit boom

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  • Adam B. Ashcraft
  • Paul Goldsmith-Pinkham
  • James Vickery

Abstract

We study credit ratings on subprime and Alt-A mortgage-backed-securities (MBS) deals issued between 2001 and 2007, the period leading up to the subprime crisis. The fraction of highly rated securities in each deal is decreasing in mortgage credit risk (measured either ex ante or ex post), suggesting that ratings contain useful information for investors. However, we also find evidence of significant time variation in risk-adjusted credit ratings, including a progressive decline in standards around the MBS market peak between the start of 2005 and mid-2007. Conditional on initial ratings, we observe underperformance (high mortgage defaults and losses and large rating downgrades) among deals with observably higher risk mortgages based on a simple ex ante model and deals with a high fraction of opaque low-documentation loans. These findings hold over the entire sample period, not just for deal cohorts most affected by the crisis.

Suggested Citation

  • Adam B. Ashcraft & Paul Goldsmith-Pinkham & James Vickery, 2010. "MBS ratings and the mortgage credit boom," Staff Reports 449, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:449
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Credit ratings; Mortgages; Mortgage-backed securities; Subprime mortgage; Financial crises; Financial risk management;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • G24 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Investment Banking; Venture Capital; Brokerage

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