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Valuing Toxic Assets: An Analysis of CDO Equity

  • Francis A. Longstaff
  • Brett Myers

How does the market value complex structured-credit securities? This issue is central to understanding the current financial crisis and identifying effective policy measures. We study this issue from a novel perspective by contrasting the valuation of CDO equity with that of bank stocks. This is possible because both CDO equity and bank stock represent levered first-loss residual claims on an underlying portfolio of debt. There are strong similarities in the two types of equity investments. Using an extensive data set of CDX index tranche prices, we find that the discount rates applied by the market to bank and CDO equity are very comparable. In addition, a single factor explains more than 64 percent of the variation in bank and CDO equity returns. Although banks are presumably active credit-portfolio managers, we find that bank alphas are significantly negative during the sample period and comparable in magnitude to those of more-passively-managed CDO equity. Both banks and CDO equity display significant sensitivity to "shadow banking" factors such as counterparty credit risk, the availability of collateralized financing for debt securities, and the liquidity of the derivatives market. A key implication is that we may be able to value "toxic" assets using readily-available stock market information.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14871.

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Date of creation: Apr 2009
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14871
Note: AP
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  1. Krahnen, Jan Pieter & Wilde, Christian, 2008. "Risk transfer with CDOs," CFS Working Paper Series 2008/15, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
  2. Markus K. Brunnermeier & Lasse Heje Pedersen, 2007. "Market liquidity and funding liquidity," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 24478, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  3. Duffie, Darrell & Huang, Ming, 1996. " Swap Rates and Credit Quality," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 51(3), pages 921-49, July.
  4. Günter Franke & Jan Pieter Krahnen, 2005. "Default risk sharing between banks and markets: the contribution of collateralized debt obligations," CoFE Discussion Paper 05-04, Center of Finance and Econometrics, University of Konstanz.
  5. Francis A. Longstaff & Arvind Rajan, 2006. "An Empirical Analysis of the Pricing of Collateralized Debt Obligations," NBER Working Papers 12210, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. 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.
  7. Francis A. Longstaff & Sanjay Mithal & Eric Neis, 2005. "Corporate Yield Spreads: Default Risk or Liquidity? New Evidence from the Credit Default Swap Market," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 60(5), pages 2213-2253, October.
  8. Lasse Heje Pederson & Markus K Brunnermeier, 2007. "Market Liquidity and Funding Liquidity," FMG Discussion Papers dp580, Financial Markets Group.
  9. Cooper, Ian A & Mello, Antonio S, 1991. " The Default Risk of Swaps," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 46(2), pages 597-620, June.
  10. Benmelech, Efraim & Dlugosz, Jennifer, 2009. "The alchemy of CDO credit ratings," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(5), pages 617-634, July.
  11. Francis A. Longstaff, 2004. "The Flight-to-Liquidity Premium in U.S. Treasury Bond Prices," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 77(3), pages 511-526, July.
  12. Joshua Coval & Jakub Jurek & Erik Stafford, 2009. "The Economics of Structured Finance," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(1), pages 3-25, Winter.
  13. Robert A. Jarrow, 2001. "Counterparty Risk and the Pricing of Defaultable Securities," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 56(5), pages 1765-1799, October.
  14. Giesecke, Kay, 2004. "Correlated default with incomplete information," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 28(7), pages 1521-1545, July.
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