June 25, 2014
Standard & Poor’s posted New Players In The RMBS Market Could Present Unique Representations And Warranties Risks. It opens, S&P
believes that new entrants into the residential mortgage-backed securitization (RMBS) market that make loan-level representations and warranties (R&Ws) may present additional risks not present with more established market players. Many of these new entrants not only lack historical loan performance data, but have not yet established track records for remedying any R&W breaches. This can call into question their ability or willingness to repurchase under R&W provisions. In light of this, mitigating factors may exist that could alleviate the risk of a potential R&W breach. (1)
This all sounds pretty serious, but I am not so sure that it is.
S&P explains its concerns further:
We believe it is important for investors and other market participants to evaluate the quality and depth of various factors that mitigate the risk of R&W breaches occurring in U.S. RMBS transactions, including those that would be remedied by new entities with limited histories and the risk that comes with their willingness or ability to do so. Specifically, we believe the quality and scale of third-party due diligence, the depth of operational reviews, and a transaction’s overall expected losses, are critical for assessing the risk of a breach and if a new entity would be remedying it. We consider all of these aspects in our assessment of the credit characteristics of loans that are securitized in U.S. RMBS deals. (1)
One assumes that every party to every transaction would consider the counterparty risk — the risk that the other side of a deal won’t or can’t make good on its obligations. Regular readers of this blog also know that many well-known companies have attempted to avoid their responsibilities pursuant to reps and warranties clauses. So, when S&P states that “the quality and scale of third-party due diligence, the depth of operational reviews, and a transaction’s overall expected losses, are critical for assessing the risk of a breach and if a new entity would be remedying it,” one wonders why this is more true for new players than it is for existing ones.
Further undercutting itself, this report notes that “post-2008 issuers have been addressing many of these potential R&W risks, including newer players. The level of third-party due diligence in recently issued U.S. RMBS for example has been more comprehensive from a historical (pre-2008) perspective in terms of the number of loans reviewed and the scope of the reviews.” (1)
So I am left wondering what S&P is trying to achieve with this report. Are they really worried about new entrants to the market? Are they signalling that they will take a tough stance on lowering due diligence standards as the market heats up? Are they favoring the big players in the market over the upstarts? I don’t think that this analysis stands up on its own legs, so I am guessing that there is something else going on. If anyone has a inkling as to what it is, please share it with the rest of us.| Permalink