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MBS Ratings and the Mortgage Credit Boom

Author

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  • Ashcraft, A.
  • Goldsmith-Pinkham, P.
  • Vickery, J.

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 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) amongst 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

  • Ashcraft, A. & Goldsmith-Pinkham, P. & Vickery, J., 2010. "MBS Ratings and the Mortgage Credit Boom," Discussion Paper 2010-89S, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:tiu:tiucen:5da00f7a-44c3-4829-903c-d17b50802480
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Credit Rating Agencies; Subprime Crisis; Mortgage-Backed Securities;

    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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