Editor: David Reiss
Brooklyn Law School

August 13, 2014

Consumer Protection in RMBS 3.0

By David Reiss

The Structured Finance Industry Group has issued RMBS 3.0:  A Comprehensive Set of Proposed Industry Standards to Promote Growth in the Private Label Securities Market.  This “green paper,” frequently referred to as a First Edition, states that RMBS 3.0 is an initiative

established with the primary goal of re-invigorating the “private label” residential mortgage-backed securities (“RMBS”) market.

Initiated by members of SFIG, the project seeks to reduce substantive differences within current market practices through an open discussion among a broad cross-section of market participants. Where possible, participants seek to identify and agree upon best practices. RMBS 3.0 focuses on the following areas related to RMBS:

  • Representations and warranties, repurchase governance and other enforcement mechanisms;
  • Due diligence, disclosure and data issues; and
  • Roles and responsibilities of transaction parties and their communications with investors. (1 footnotes omitted)

RMBS 3.0 is expected to

1. Create standardization where possible, in a manner that reflects widely agreed upon best practices and procedures.
2. Clarify differences in alternative standards in a centralized and easily comprehendible manner to improve transparency across RMBS transactions.
3. Develop new solutions to the challenges that impede the emergence of a sustainable, scalable and fluid post-crisis RMBS market.
4. Draft or endorse model contractual provisions, or alternative “benchmark” structural approaches, where appropriate to reflect the foregoing.(2)

There is much of interest in this attempt at self-regulation by the now quiescent but formerly roaring private-label market. But I think that readers of this blog would be interested in its approach to consumer protection regulation. First, the green paper refers to it as “consumer compliance.” (See, e.g., 23) Unsurprisingly, the paper is only concerned with protecting industry participants from liability for violations of consumer protection/consumer compliance laws. It pays no lip service to the spirit of consumer protection — promoting sustainable credit on transparent terms. That’s fine given the constituents of the SFIG, but it only confirms the importance of active consumer protection regulators and enforcement agencies who will look beyond rote compliance with regulations. The private-label industry is capable of rapid change once it gets going, change that can outpace regulations. Someone has to keep an eye on it with an eye toward to the principles that should guide a fair market for consumer credit.

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