IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Regulatory reform and risk-taking: replacing ratings


  • Bo Becker
  • Marcus Opp


We analyze a reform of insurance companies' capital requirements for mortgage-backed securities. First, credit ratings were replaced as inputs to capital regulation. Second, the redesigned system ensures capital buffers sufficient to withstand expected losses, but insufficient to protect against adverse outcomes. Many bonds are now treated as riskless and require minimal capital. By 2012, aggregate capital requirements for mortgage-backed securities have been reduced from $19.36bn (had the previous system been maintained) to $3.73bn. Exploiting that the change did not affect other asset classes, we document that insurers' risk taking was distorted and increased in response to the new regulation.

Suggested Citation

  • Bo Becker & Marcus Opp, 2013. "Regulatory reform and risk-taking: replacing ratings," NBER Working Papers 19257, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19257
    Note: CF

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ralph S. J. Koijen & Motohiro Yogo, 2015. "The Cost of Financial Frictions for Life Insurers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(1), pages 445-475, January.
    2. Skreta, Vasiliki & Veldkamp, Laura, 2009. "Ratings shopping and asset complexity: A theory of ratings inflation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(5), pages 678-695, July.
    3. Patrick Bolton & Xavier Freixas & Joel Shapiro, 2012. "The Credit Ratings Game," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 67(1), pages 85-112, February.
    4. Ellul, Andrew & Jotikasthira, Chotibhak & Lundblad, Christian T., 2011. "Regulatory pressure and fire sales in the corporate bond market," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 101(3), pages 596-620, September.
    5. Mathis, Jérôme & McAndrews, James & Rochet, Jean-Charles, 2009. "Rating the raters: Are reputation concerns powerful enough to discipline rating agencies?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(5), pages 657-674, July.
    6. Becker, Bo & Milbourn, Todd, 2011. "How did increased competition affect credit ratings?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 101(3), pages 493-514, September.
    7. Opp, Christian C. & Opp, Marcus M. & Harris, Milton, 2013. "Rating agencies in the face of regulation," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(1), pages 46-61.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Ralph S.J. Koijen & Motohiro Yogo, 2017. "Risk of Life Insurers: Recent Trends and Transmission Mechanisms," NBER Working Papers 23365, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Barnes, Michelle L., 2016. "Did life insurers benefit from TARP or regulatory forbearance during the financial crisis of 2008–2009?," Working Papers 16-24, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
    3. Goel, Anand M. & Thakor, Anjan V., 2015. "Information reliability and welfare: A theory of coarse credit ratings," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 115(3), pages 541-557.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G22 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Insurance; Insurance Companies; Actuarial Studies
    • G24 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Investment Banking; Venture Capital; Brokerage
    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19257. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.