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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.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19257.

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Date of creation: Jul 2013
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19257
Note: CF
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  1. Vasiliki Skreta & Laura Veldkamp, 2008. "Ratings Shopping and Asset Complexity: A Theory of Ratings Inflation," Working Papers 08-28, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
  2. Patrick Bolton & Xavier Freixas & Joel Shapiro, 2010. "The credit ratings game," Economics Working Papers 1221, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  3. George J. Stigler, 1971. "The Theory of Economic Regulation," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 2(1), pages 3-21, Spring.
  4. 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.
  5. Becker, Bo & Milbourn, Todd, 2011. "How did increased competition affect credit ratings?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 101(3), pages 493-514, September.
  6. 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.
  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.
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